Want to know how Dallas ISD "leveling" is going? Go no further than your nearest teacher facebook or happy hour.
Sometimes staff development is inspiring. This wasn't one of those times, Dallas ISD.
Sitting in administrator meetings is pretty informative stuff.
We all have someone in our lives that goes a little too far with the personal questions. It's not really their business, but they're your boss, it gets a little tricky.
Yes, we respond to emails. No, they don't.
DISD recently created new policy on the interventions required for failing students, which we briefly mentioned yesterday. There are a couple really big pieces about this policy that teachers need to be aware of. First, the policy states that if a teacher or a subject has more than 20% failure rate any six weeks, the teacher or teachers (if subject based) have to provide documentations for the intervention BY STUDENT. Not a general here is what I did, but what did you do for each student and on what date. The teacher failure rate is straight forward, but what do they mean when they say subject? They don’t just mean Algebra 1, U.S. History, Chemistry, etc. SHEL History is separate from history and the same goes for modified. Therefore teachers cannot just look at their whole class, but need to break down each group to determine their failures. In addition, teachers will need to provide documentation on any students that have a 68 or 69 to explain why they have that grade rather than a 70.
Let’s talk interventions. The policy states that
So what does this mean? Student will get MANY opportunities to make up work. If you have more than 20% of your students failing you will have to prove that you gave the above interventions to your students. This doesn’t really impact the kids that do not come to school and make up work, because they will not get credit anyways, this impacts the kids that come to school, but do not do anything in class. Now consequences for not doing working in class are limited because they can do it the next week, during tutoring, or at home and bring it in. Students will learn that that have second and third attempts to get their work in. I have no problem with this for the student that is trying and truly working to do better. The issue is with the student that does not want to work in class, distracts others, but then comes in after school to get their work done. How are we teaching them responsibility? Again, we are making student failures the responsibility of the teacher. That is not the case in the real world or in college. I rarely got second or third attempts at an assignment. I couldn’t make up my participation grade in office hours. You have to be on it the first time. How are we preparing are students to be college and career ready if we do not expect them to complete their work on time? And selfish or not, I do not want to stay after school every day or come in on Saturday for the students that will not work in class.
On my campus we got into a large debate about what is the purpose of the policy. Are we supporting students or we trying to make it harder to fail students. Is this the way of getting teachers to not fail as many students? We can't really put systems in place that force students to do more work but we can load up the work we give teachers. It is honestly probably a combination of both. The problem is this is not a real solution. This a band-aid. If a lot of students are failing and failure rates are increasing, there is a larger issue going on. That means we need to address the real issue and determine why are students not passing. When I pass the problem child this year, they become the child problem for the teacher next year, until they are the worlds problem.
On the other side I have seen many teachers give 1-2 grades a six weeks. Students have no idea how they are doing in a class, and then at the end of the six weeks they either fail or do not. That is not fair to a student and that is not right. Students need to know how they are doing in your class. Feedback is such a huge piece of the learning cycle. If a student has not received back one assignment in a six weeks how are they supposed to know where they need to grow and what they are doing will in. Similarly, if they do not think anything is graded or matters, they definitely are not going to work in your class.
I have always passed out missing assignments sheets in class every 3 weeks. Students want that. They want to know what their assignments are, what they got, and what they are missing. I can only think of one or two time in three years where I have passed out a grade sheet and a student DID NOT ask for their missing assignments. Students do care. It is about supporting our students and giving them opportunities to be successful. I do not disagree with everything in the policy, I actually agree with a lot of it. The parts that frustrate me are the providing so many opportunities to students that fail because they do not work and the need for teachers to document EVERYTHING THEY DO. Sometimes it feels like 90% of this job is documentation.
So yes we need policies to ensure teachers grade fairly, enter grades weekly, and notify students, but that was there. We had to have 3 grades a 6 weeks, we have to explain what we did in class to support students, and we had to pass out 3 week grades reports. Rather than making teachers put together a circus show of interventions, why not enforce the policies we had in place before. There is a difference between supporting a students and spoon feeding them. We don’t give our students the answers in class because we want to them to learn, we want our instruction to be rigorous. Well we are not creating a rigorous school environment if students can’t fail.
DISD Teachers documentation requirements
Congratulations to the Principal of the Year winners announced today.
Winners are as follows:
Principal Tanya Shelton of Lagow ES
Nakia Douglas of Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy
Tracie Washington of Dade Middle School
Julie Singleton of Holland ES
The Hub put up the finalists yesterday. Certainly there were some shockers, both related to principals included and excluded from the running.
We should now look at these principals and their schools to determine a few things: 1. What are they doing right that has earned them so much acclaim? 2. How/Why are their campuses succeeding? 3. What is the student response to these leaders?
In short, what makes a good principal? If these are our best, what makes them so and how do we get all of our principals to that level?
We have a Dallas Education blog store now! Buy something for an educator you care about!
DISD Principals lie to DISD teacheres
What makes a good DISD Principal?
DISD Principal turnover
HUB finalist announcement
DISD Teachers cry from bad administrators
There are very few things that make me sit down and blog after 5pm. Outside of something game changing like a school shutting down or a new superintendent being hired, I'm all blogged out for the day around then. Principals lying to teachers? That really gets me fired up.
If I hear one more teacher ask if climate surveys impact their pay under TEI, I'm going to call a poorly attended press conference on the matter. Where is this coming from? Principals walking around to PLC's saying that climate surveys "aren't for airing out [the campus'] dirty laundry" and that "[climate surveys] affect our pay." Is that true?
The answer? NO!
As a teacher, your TEI scores are not impacted by pay; however, your principal does feel the sting of a poor climate survey.
I know, could this just be a rumor? If I hadn't heard this principal on multiple occasions, some blogged about here, make things up, I'd check a few more sources. I'm a blogger, not an investigative journalist. I'll leave that to the pros like Tawnell.
What I did check on was my TEI knowledge. I reached out to a few people that know it way better than I to so that I could ease some of the fears floating around this evening. Climate surveys don't impact the pay of teachers.
This doesn't just upset me because it's dishonest. Everyone lies. We'll talk about why principals lie in the morning.
It upsets me because when principals do this, they are clearly bullying and taking advantage of people that aren't paying close enough attention to the details of these complex systems.
It's cowardly and it's mean. Teachers can't dig into this stuff because they're busy helping kids. Show some compassion and some respect.
Benefit of the doubt - I understand that some administrators are poorly informed too. Even if that's true and it isn't the intentional spread of misinformation, it's still using this "we're all in it together" sentiment to strong arm teachers into cooking the books for you. You're still in the position of power even when you're smiling with your arm around them. Not nice.
Sometimes admins say things that make us love them and see them as our fearless leaders on campus. Other times, they say things that makes is question how they got to be in the position they are. Sometimes, they say both at the same time leaving us a confused, angry, teacher mob that cant wait to get to Thanksgiving break.
A teacher shared the following staff meeting story from this morning:
Principal: Let's get through the next few days. I don't want any fights. Relax.
Such a kind thing to say. We're all in it together. Thanks fearless leader.
Principal: Oh, by the way, I'm still doing spots these next two days.
WHAT THE HECK IS WRONG WITH YOU!? WHY? Seriously, why are people doing spots the days before Thanksgiving break? Should every day have excellent instruction? Sure. Are there days where it's much more difficult? Yep. Let's be smart about this observers. Are you trying to help teachers or check off your to do list and get them in trouble? How about next Tuesday? Yeah, let's do next Tuesday.
Why observing Dallas teachers is challenging
Why teacher observation systems fail
Good teacher observations in
Peer teacher observations
How Admins should lead Dallas students
Today may just be a day I need to devote to the different reasons why teachers cry. Rarely do you see it in public, but when you do, it's heart breaking. Last night I saw a DISD teacher cry. Hard.
These weren't the maybe they're sad or maybe there's something in their eye tears. These weren't the I just reached for a popcicle but someone just left the empty box in the freezer tears. They weren't even the I thought there was an extra step so I fell and scraped my knee in front of everyone tears.
These were big, angry, frustrated, streaming down their face tears. What caused them? Reason number 1: Incompetent Administrators.
We all know that assistant principal or that just looks lost. That's frustrating, sure. You ask them a question or need some assistance and they're all thumbs. They don't know anything and they don't know where to direct you. That's just bad customer service. It's annoying like a waiter that keeps spilling water next to your table.
It becomes tear inducing when that administrator knows they're terrible so they overcompensate by throwing their weight around (sometimes literally) to pretend they know what they're talking about. Example: Yelling at kids to use the front door when everyone on campus knows the policy is for kids to enter at the back or side doors where the metal detectors are plugged in. That makes the kids hate admins.
That's the student side though. Bad admins bring teachers to tears by writing them up for frivolous reasons like walking in 3 minutes before class is over on a test day and writing up a teacher for not "teaching bell to bell." Yes, that's a real write up that I signed with a scribble that was 100% not my signature our of protest.
The worst thing poor admins do, completely in my opinion, is dump off all the things they don't know how to do onto their department chairs and instructional coaches. Both of those people are busy enough. Adding the insult of pretending like you're trusting them and giving them more responsibility is what triggers those angry frustration tears.
Last week, there was talk of DISD Superintendent Mike Miles telling Dallas, DISD, and the Board of Trustees to "shove it." My feelings on this are complicated. Not my feelings on Superintendent Miles necessarily, but on what he represents.
Leadership is hard. Balancing personalities and interests of thousands of people is harder. The hardest thing is admitting you’ve made a mistake and owning it. If there is one fault that Mike Miles had as superintendent, it’s his inability to build bridges and coalitions. Part of that was not being willing to make compromises. It was his biggest strength and his biggest weakness.
Throughout history there are leaders who have made similar mistakes. To compare Mike Miles to these great leaders of men would be a bit of a stretch, but the parallels are there. Despite the vocal detractors, Mike Miles had quite a supportive and passionate following, smaller at the end, but still devoted. He was able to encourage investment and interest from people with money and power to make some much needed changes and upgrades to DISD. Some in Dallas will miss him terribly while others will be dancing in the street, burning him in effigy by nightfall. Me? I’ll be letting out a giant sigh of relief for an end to fierce infighting, administrative missteps, and upheaval in the teacher ranks. Then I’ll be bracing myself for the next wave of chaos that will come in his wake.
Dallas will not soon forget Superintendent Miles. I don’t mean that in a good way. The scars that have been carved deep into DISD have festered. Lines have been drawn between teachers, administrators, community members, and others. Miles leaving doesn’t me the pro v anti Miles camps are gone. The Superintendent’s inability to connect with people on a human level has divided the district and tainted the “reform movement” for the foreseeable future. DISD wasn’t perfect, but now the resistance to change or improvement will be more difficult now than ever. People will fear the rise of another Miles. All the people who believed in his ideas while disagreeing with his methods will be lumped into one category and punished for it, maybe forever.
The story of Napoleon is the closest parallel to our outgoing Superintendent. Smart, good ideas, the ability to draw people too his cause. He created something that nobody else had before. It was hubris that led him to march one of the largest, most successful armies in human history to its doom in Russia, and the few who supported him to the end came back shattered, utterly broken, because of the poor leadership decisions of a strong leader. Europe was never the same again after he was ousted, and neither will DISD post-Miles.
Was it the wrong decision to hire him? No, he had some good ideas that were executed poorly. Was it wrong to fire him all those times it was put to a vote? Again, no, you can’t fire someone because you don’t like them. Even though many will say that’s how Miles acted, two wrongs don’t make a right. I largely agree with the board and think many of them showed forethought and carefully deliberated over their decisions. The reality is that Miles didn’t make the most of the many chances given to him and he destroyed himself.
Who wins? Who was right? Nobody. We all lose and our students lose the most; however, we have an opportunity now, without the 3 year lightning rod of negativity that Miles was, to come back together and make DISD work again. It’s going to take community, veteran DISD teachers, novice DISD Teachers, and even student input, but great things are still possible. It’s also going to take someone willing to listen, not just make the tough decisions and ignore the results.
DISD Teacher Believes in DISD
DISD Teacher Unhappy with DISD
DISD Test Results are Flat
Firing DISD Teachers
TEI Evaluations for DISD Teachers
Good Governance for DISD Trustees
Miles fires DISD Principals
This blog is a comment on Sharon Grigsby’s article this morning. It’s going to be a long one, so if reading isn’t your thing, the short summary is that Mike Miles has burned his bridges and nobody is willing to give him an inch anymore. He doesn’t need to tell anyone to shove it because he basically already has. Read on if you want to know how I arrive at that conclusion and what the implications are.
Yesterday, I posted a few thoughts from 1st year DISD teachers. While the assumption is that all new teachers are products of TFA, I purposefully solicited the opinions of 1st year education majors that have chosen this as their career. While their concerns overlapped with those shared by 1st year TFA teachers, their outrage seemed a little more potent, perhaps because they have, for a longer period of time, dedicated their life to education. This brings me to another group of people whose opinions I was curious about: Veterans Teachers.
For the purpose of my questioning, I sought out teachers who have been in DISD for over 10 years. The response was almost the exact opposite of what the 1st year teachers yearned for. Common responses were as follows:
1. "More than anything, I just want to be left alone."
2. "Let me pick what development I want / need."
3. "Worry less about what's happening in my classroom and more about what's happening in the hallway. Let me teach."
This makes sense to me. Many educators have been at it for much longer than the Miles era and will be there long after. For teachers who have been making a difference for kids for decades, I can understand that the "reinvent the wheel" approach is annoying and why they are skeptical.
Lately, the district has been divided into camps of pro v anti Miles with those in the pro Miles camp calling those in the Anti Miles camp lazy and change resistant, while the anti miles folks call the pro miles folks teacher hating sell outs. This isn't helpful or productive and I don't think anyone in a DISD classroom is there because they want to destroy the lives of our children. That said, I wanted to clear the name of veteran teachers who have lately been polarized by all the turmoil in the district.
I asked each of them if they were resistant to new ideas or approaches to education and each and every one of them said "no." "Show me it works. Don't just force me to abandon what's been working for me for years without proof there's a better way," one teacher said.
This sounds reasonable. So does focusing the attention on teachers that are begging for it instead of forcing it on those that don't. If you can prove your methods, perhaps that should be celebrated and shared. Like I've said before, there's room for all approaches in Dallas Education.
Recently, both on twitter and in person, I've had the pleasure of talking with a few teachers that just concluded their first year in the classroom. Some were tired, some were sickly, some were jaded, and some were hopeful. What did they all have in common? They all thought something was missing. "Support" is the buzzword they all clung to. Some wish they had more time to observe other teachers, some wished they had been observed more, and some just with their administrators would have responded to their requests for help with discipline.
I'm glad we have new teachers coming in to the classroom, especially with so many leaving for various reasons. Why didn't they feel supported. The administrators were all too busy at may of their schools. This is my problems with the changes in DISD and Dallas Education: We are trying to please adults more than educate kids. I was and still am a supporter of finding new and better ways to educate students. What I have seen that endeavor become on the ground, in our schools and classrooms, is compliance for compliance sake.
Here is what I mean:
"Is your LO and DOL up? Ok, check!" - Wrong
"Do your kids know what your LO is and why it is important? According to your DOL, was your lesson effective? How will that change your approach with your students tomorrow?" - Right
To me there is a big difference between those two scenarios, but scenario 1, the compliance scenario, is what the "DISD education Reforms" have become. Maybe that is because the administrators we are hiring don't have the skills or training to effectively implement the reforms. Maybe it's because they are to busy to properly conduct their jobs. Either way, it's created a poor environment for students and new teachers alike.
The recent decision by the superintendent to fire the 3 principals contested by the board calls into question the role of the superintendent. With the recommendation by Mike Miles to fire the principals rejected by the DISD Board of Trustees, you would think that the superintendent would listen to the people ho are supposed to represent the general will of the people. The signal being sent by the superintendent is that he is unwilling to listen or compromise because he believes so much in his methods and decision making.
The problem here for Mr. Miles is that the DISD STAAR results simply aren't there to back up his confidence. There are people on both sides of the discussion saying that they results are better/worse than they look, but the reality is that Miles has not lived up to his own expectations. That puts his future in jeopardy and draws into question anyone and everyone that ever supported him. The refusal to examine his own way of operating is part of the source of the frustration for DISD teachers and students.
I feel President Cowan's sadness and confusion. I hope they appeal so we can put this situation to rest with some clarity.
Related article - DMN_
Holly Hacker has been doing a fantastic job in the last few weeks tracking the shifting around of principals in DISD. We’ve commented on the DISD Principal movement before, but the big question is why are we doing this? I understand trying to find the perfect leader for a school in order to solve all of the school’s problems, but now this looks a little more like magic than science. Mike Miles had previously been so data oriented and numbers focused in making his decisions. Now the shifting around of leaders looks much more reactive than proactive. It looks personal instead of professional. This is concerning because I feel like we are without direction as decisions are being made without rhyme or reason. There’s no LO if you know what I mean. If a principal is bad for a school or a community, I understand the decision to terminate, but if the will of the people is behind the principal and there is a positive impact, there are plenty of decisions that can be made prior than the decision to fire. That only spells trouble. More on that later.
Referenced Article - DMN
This is a very bloated and lengthy blog so we'll give you all day to read it without overwhelming you with blogs today.
Yesterday, my colleague and partner wrote about why she believes in her instructional methods, namely DISD's MRS strategies. Her philosophy is always inspirational to me. It's pure, reasonable, and rich with dedication. I largely agree with what she has to say, but have a larger criticism of what I believe is the direction of the district. Let's break it down by buzzwords.
Dallas education is changing, but some things stay the same. Kids are kids. Rich, poor, present day, in the past, no matter what descriptor, kids have always been and always will be kids. Some are more behind than others. Some haven't been trained to be students. That said, they have to be taught and they need to learn if they want to be successful. Grades used to be something that had value in and of themselves. Growing up, I was college focused from a young age. My parents always expected As and Bs from me and I'd hear about it if I was slipping. That does not describe many of my students. I was being held accountable at all levels and in our schools that is largely flipped.
Responsibility for success and achievement has shifted almost entirely toward teachers as of late. The philosophy of "there is no excuse for poor quality instruction" makes sense, but there are a million excuses for poor quality learning. Yesterday, our principal gave us a stern talking to about how there was no excuse for failing a senior. It's about that time where our counseling staff comes by and strong arms everyone into giving 70s to seniors that have done nothing and didn't earn that "senioritis" by doing anything in their last 4 years. Before that it was attendance for credit, another sham in Dallas ISD education. In addition to those, there is DISD discipline procedures that don't help or keep DISD students safe. All of that is now blamed on the teacher, but teachers are no longer supported enough to be able to make the changes administrators want to see. We shouldn't be removing DISD teachers on a whim, we need to be supporting teachers.
Check for Understanding
MRS strategies can be a good idea. The problem is the belief that they can and will replace traditional lecture style instruction. That's still college. Abandoning that means we have given up on our kids going to college. Why do I think that? Because removing that from education means we've stopped preparing them for what they will see at higher levels. Many of our students are unprepared for the amount of independent practice DISD administrators want to see. 3 MRS strategies in 10 minutes? Not only do a number of our students not think and process that quickly, but how much teaching can actually happen in that 3 minutes between strategies? Shouldn't be a problem if the kids are engaged, they say...
Administrators harp on this word engagement in front of crowded rooms of teachers on their cellphones. I'm usually not engaged. If you can't engage me, you can't engage my students. You don't know what you're talking about. The end, I'm not listening to you anymore. Differentiated instruction in DISD is a popular thing to expect; however, differentiated engagement is not. Kids engage in different ways. Some are 100% engaged with their phone out. My DOLs prove they know what i'm teaching, but I still get yelled at. How can we get them to completely engage if we're breaking their attention ever 3 minutes with an MRS? Some DISD students can't read so videos work better. What? Not allowed to show more than 5 minutes in a class period. Sorry, i'm already breaking that rule from time to time.
We've talked about the student learning objective in DISD recently. Setting a goal at the beginning of the year and working to grow from it by the end makes sense. I'm not going to do it on your website unless you tell me why that's important and make me believe someone is actually going to read it. One of our leaders flat out told us nobody was reading ours anyway.
The point of this is to get teachers to plan. That's fine. That's good. Teachers planning is important. Should I be getting written up for deviating from my lesson plan though? If my kids don't look at or care about it, why am I in trouble for it not being on the wall? Busy work frustrates kids and adults alike. Let's trim down to the important stuff and get back to focusing on kids.
Buy in / conclusion
That was long but it's my breakdown. My philosophy on education is that all methods have a place at the table and you have to do what works for you. If you're uncomfortable you won't do as well. Does that mean you don't have to try new things? No, but if you give something a try and it's not working, you shouldn't be penalized for doing what is. You shouldn't have to worry about punishment if you haven't been trained. If nobody can model what you're supposed to be doing, your observer shouldn't be able to say you're doing anything wrong. DISD schools should be a community where everyone is working together for the benefit of the students, but our schools are divided against themselves. The direction of the district is a tear down and rebuild direction. It's not necessary and absent shining examples of success, nobody is going to "buy in" or get on board with the plan. DISD needs to stop viewing everything in education as zero sum. Increasing MRS doesn't mean decreasing lecture. Bringing in new teachers doesn't mean getting rid of veteran teachers. It's not a hard science. It's a business of people and feelings.
Is anyone else stressed out over SLOs? I'm not, but yesterday I nearly had my head ripped off by two teachers that flipped their ever loving s$*t on me because of their respective SLO related stress.
What's an SLO? For those of you lucky enough to have no idea what an SLO is, it stands for Student Learning Objective. It functions as a benchmark for students to grow from that is set at the beginning of the year, then everyone forgets about it until now when people decide that it's important.
Is it a good idea in theory? Sure! I track data almost daily and have no problem producing it on command, but the problem with things like this is that we do it, then everyone in the administration forgets about it. Why is this a problem? Because if it was important, we'd be talking about it all year. It comes off as high stakes busy work when the principals pop up at the end of the year and start demanding it be completed immediately, calling meetings, and having random trainings for people that have forgotten it existed and/or can't figure it out. What you end up getting is BS data that gives a false sense of progress in the classroom.
Again, I have no problem doing it if it's purposeful, but if you don't care, then I certainly don't care. I have 140 kids who demand my constant attention, a puppy who demands it when I'm out of school, and a whole separate life that needs some dedication too to keep me happy and not getting yelled at.
My message to the higher ups? If you're going to give us busy work, keep it brief and keep it simple. You don't need teachers more stressed out and threatening to murder each other over paper shortages and paperclips because of SLO stress.
Yesterday, the Board of Trustees voted to keep the 3 principals on the hot seat, awaiting termination. The Administration had requested and intended to fire the popular principal at Rosemont Elementary, the principal at North Dallas High School, who is widely held as a successful campus reformer, and the principal at Wilmer Hutchins Elementary. This recommendation was denied by a 5-4 vote. This was a bold move made for the right reasons by board members who have been repeatedly slighted by Miles in the past. I respect the decision. It was a response to loud outcry by the people in the district and it made sense. That said, I think the decision was a mistake that we will pay for in the future.
This decision sets a dangerous precedent going forward for superintendent / school board relations. The role of the superintendent should be to manage the district, including instructional practice, facilities maintenance, and personnel issues. Hiring and firing are placed in their hands by the board who selects them as a capable steward of the district. The Board makes policy, determines the budget, and responds to the needs of the communities they serve. That broke down yesterday.
There is an appeals process for people terminated to have that decision changed by the board. That was not respected yesterday as the board jumped over that process to block the decision to fire made by the superintendent. Like I said above, I understand the decision and would likely have done something similar considering the level of dissatisfaction of my constituents. You can't stand by idle when the community you serve is seemingly under attack, but the proper channels were ignored and the power of the superintendent and the board were called into question. This was overstepping by the board.
Who is to blame? You could blame the superintendent for pushing the board to what I think is an extreme action. This wouldn't have been necessary if such an abrasive and uncompromising leader was at the helm. You could blame Eric Cowan for bowing to the pressure of his constituents who are making acting on emotion and not the cool head required of an elected official. Cowan stood with Miles when his people called for the superintendent's head, why did he bend to the will of his people this time and not back then? You could also blame Dr. Blackburn, Jones, Foreman, and Nutall for cultivating and acting upon a personal conflict with the superintendent rather than falling in line with the approved system of evaluations for principals. What about big money reformers who have backed some people in education into a corner by funding "reform" candidates in elections that challenge their hold over their districts?
The point here is that DISD is a powder keg ready to explode and we've seen nothing yet. The attempt to fire Miles, this grab for authority by the board, the protests, the rallies, and everything in between are just flashes that preceded the big one. What will it look like? No idea, but our students are going to be the ones hurt the most.
Why are some schools more successful than others? Is it the teachers? Maybe its the technology. Could it be that good facilities produce good students? All of these are pieces to the puzzle; however, some schools in Dallas are used as dumping grounds for the "undesirable" students from other campuses. This dooms certain campuses to failure and tells the students already there that they pretty much go to school in an educational dumpster. That causes problems for everyone at those campuses: students, teachers, and administrators.
With so much controversy surrounding DISD central staff in the past week, it's important we realize that DISD isn't some student focused, cohesive group fighting against educational inequity. Should it be? Yep! Unfortunately, politics are still politics at EVERY level. Between the administration (Superintendent to Assistant Principals), teachers, and students (including parents), there is an unhealthy amount of animosity and mistrust. Why? Nastiness behind the scenes is one example, but it doesn't tell the story of mistrust in the classroom. More after the jump, read more!
Safety in schools is something that none of us can take lightly. Violence between students is jaring and visible. It's treated as a reflection of the violence in their communities that has produced an attitude, rooted in deeply ingrained survival instincts, of defensiveness and suspicion toward challenges to their security.
There is, however, a much less publicised violence and that's violence toward teachers. Recently, a teacher attempting to remove a cell phone from a student was thrown to the ground while the other students laughed and filmed the encounter. Obviously we all only have one perspective and lack most of the facts, but when do we stop making excuses for students and start protecting teachers?
Teachers are the ones on the front lines in the classroom. Teachers are the ones breaking up the fights. Why would a teacher or coach want to break up a classroom or cafeteria fight when the risks are so high? Why would a teacher want to take a phone or enforce a seat change when they could get hurt?
The reality is that teachers are the ones most poorly protected by our administrators and, at a higher level, our laws. If a student hits a teacher, they get a vacation at home and maybe a transfer. In many cases they get put back into the very same classroom with the teacher they assaulted.
Should the student get counseling? Should teachers get training in proper restraint and conflict management techniques? Absolutely, but not if the automatic responses to self defense continue to be administrative leave and termination of employment.
Teaching and learning can't happen if no one feels safe. Discipline can't exist if rules aren't enforced. Rules can't be enforced if administrators don't support AND protect their teachers.
For the full video, please click here: