Wednesday, April 13, 2016
Collaboration or Confrontation? The Difference Between Good And Bad Schools.
A school that can reach its academic potential is a school where the Administration and staff have a strong collaborative work ethic. Schools where the administration collaborates with the staff allows for high staff morale, low teacher turnover, and a more stable learning environment for the students. The result is a school where teachers want to teach in and have less absences which attracts better quality teachers to the school. Its no secret that this combination is associated with improved student academic achievement.
Unfortunately, far too many New York City schools the opposite is true. The school administration (mostly Leadership Academy graduates) plays "gotcha" with the staff and staff morale is low. Furthermore, teachers teach in fear of the "unannounced" classroom visit, usually in their worst behaving class. It doesn't help that many of the District Superintendents have told their principals that they want more "ineffective ratings" and have greatly limited granting tenure at the end of the third year and extends by a year their probationary period. As a result, more discontinuances are occurring as its easier to discontinue an untenured teacher than terminate a tenured teacher through the two-year 3020-a process since it takes two consecutive "ineffective" ratings and part of that is in the junk science that might actually raise an ineffective rated teacher to developing..
In confrontational schools where teachers don't feel safe or secure, the teachers end up teaching scared. That means teaching to the test and not experimenting with innovative strategies to make learning interesting and maybe even fun for the students. Adding to this is the Danielson Rubric that penalizes teachers who vary from curriculum or ad-lib to ever changing classroom situations. While the high stakes State tests are not being used for the next four years for teaching evaluations, local measures will be and they are associated with testing be it the Regents or other citywide test measures for 40% of a teacher's grade (50% next year). Between a punitive teacher evaluation system and unsympathetic school administrators who look for confrontation rather than collaboration, it makes teaching in the New York City schools an unrewarding occupation while being treated not as a professional but as a worker drone in a dysfunctional system which only hurts student academic achievement.
The bottom line is without true collaboration and support of the school administration, student academic achievement is simply an illusion as high teacher turnover and an unstable school environment makes it virtually impossible for students to reach their full learning potential.