A Little Good Leadership Pays Dividends

A friend recently posted on Facebook a note about how hard it is to be a teacher these days. Public education has become so political that education policy is driven by the latest whim. Everyone is critical of teachers, yet very few know anything about what really goes on in the classroom. Yes, we’ve all been students. But things are always different on the other side of the desk.

During my time on the local school board, I discovered that programs were faddish that everyone was trying to find the latest nirvanna yet neglecting the fundamentals of good instruction. Management was also sorely lacking. Leadership was often nonexistent. Control was the keyword—teachers were expected to control classrooms, principals to control teachers (and parents), superintendents to control principals (and parents and school board members).

Principals would complain that they couldn’t fire incompetent teachers because of contracts and tenure. Nonsense, we replied (a board composed of business managers and leaders). There are procedures. Follow them. Observe, document, offer corrective suggestions, terminate if no improvement is observed. It was possible in 1985, it’s possible today. It’s work, but it is the work principals are expected to do.

This applies not only to teachers, but everywhere.

But this all implies inheriting problems. If you can develop an area with your own hires, you can avoid these problems with astute hiring (finding motivated, adaptable people) and team building. Inspiring a team to work together is a great experience. I’ve had the opportunity to do that a few times. Watching people grow and succeed is among the most satisfying experiences you can have.

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