A LITNUS TEST FOR PROACTIVE TEACHERS AND SUPPORTIVE ADMINISTRATORS or WHY YOU SHOULD BUY MY BOOK!

The following blog is from the “cutting room floor” of my book. After sharing some reasons to run from teaching, my current purpose is to share insights so the reader learns from my mistakes. I couldn’t save my own job. Perhaps these ideas will save your’s. Find out more and purchase RESCUE THE TEACHER, SAVE THE CHILD! available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Teachers: What if you perceive no common ground regarding your teaching philosophy and your administrator? Do not believe if you stay long enough, you will “win him over.”

If you see a disconnect with your style of teaching and the interviewing committee, this is not the right job. Remember you are interviewing the administrator just as much as he is interviewing you. In one such interview, when it was my time to ask questions, my first question was, “What is the procedure of discipline for your students?” The answer: all of our kids are great kids so we don’t have a certain procedure. I did not accept the position.

Administrators: Principals’ main job description should be: how can I remove obstacles so my staff teach in an atmosphere of positive reinforcement and productivity?

Don’t use the words “I have your back” or “I always support my staff” unless you have a history of doing so. There is nothing worse than staff experiencing the small town atmosphere of their school only to discover the “mayor” makes campaign promises which he refuses to keep.

Administrators should avoid speaking to or asking a department chair to intervene with the “questionable actions” of a teacher. If admin doubts the conduct of a teacher, it is prudent he and the teacher have direct communication. Dropping by my office, the department chair expressed my principal’s disapproval regarding a previous meeting where I questioned the lack of budget for a new program. The passive, aggressive actions of the principal demonstrated “if you question me in a public meeting, I will silence you in a private office visit from your department chair.”

Administrators and Teachers: Principals and staff should avoid gossiping or hypothetical conversations. Whispering a true narrative does not pass the gossip test if the subject is not in the room to defend himself.

Enjoy a summer read which addresses these situations and provides solutions.

PROACTIVE CONVERSATIONS WITH ADMIN or WHY YOU SHOULD BUY MY BOOK!

As I edited my book, I realized 85,000 words were about 15,000 words too many! I needed to do some pruning. The following blogs are from the “cutting room floor” of my book. After sharing some reasons to run from teaching, my current purpose is to share insights so the reader learns from my mistakes. I couldn’t save my own job but perhaps these proposed conversations will save your’s. Find out more and purchase “RESCUE THE TEACHER, SAVE THE CHILD!”


Be proactive! Make sure your admin is on record with his response to parental complaints. Such collaborative conversations between teacher and admin could include but not be limited to:

1. What is the procedure when a parent contacts me to complain?
2. How do you want me to reply? Is the admin copied on the reply?
3. What if my reply is not enough?
4. What is the admin’s philosophy of dealing with parent complaints?
5. What criteria determines the teacher’s favor? the parent’s favor?
6. What if the parent is unreasonable?
7. How will the admin interact to insure that I am able to continue teaching without vitriol e-mails, personal confrontations or meetings behind my back?
8. Does the admin meet with parents without my knowledge?
9. Are parents’ negative comments placed in my file?
10.Do I have access to my file?

Enjoy a summer read which addresses these situations and provides solutions. Rescue the Teacher, Save the Child! is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

AVOID MAKING BROAD ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT ANY SCHOOL AND ITS LEADERSHIP or WHY YOU SHOULD BUY MY BOOK!

The past 10 blogs dealt with issues in our school system. The next blogs are from the “cutting room floor” of my book. After relating 10 reasons to run from teaching, please remember there needs to be some temperance when making broad assumptions about all schools and their leaders. Otherwise we will continue to loose our best and brightest teachers. Read more about the wonderful times I experienced in “RESCUE THE TEACHER, SAVE THE CHILD!”


Here are some ideas in becoming proactive with a good administrator:


*If you are a performing arts teacher, get to know your administrator’s expectations before you do any teaching! Over the 46 year span, most principals I worked with were either former PE teachers/coaches or academic teachers. The area of performing arts is a mystery and usually misunderstood by those who never experienced the performing arts. Auditions, in particular, pose as troublesome. In an academic subject, where there is a right and wrong way, transferring that mindset to the essence of auditions does not translate. The only way you will have success and support is to make sure you and your administrator are on the same page. Ideally, accomplishing this before you even take the job would prove the best approach.


*When setting up an exchange of ideas and norms with your administrator, it should be done in August before school begins. You should have a clear rubric of how you audition your students along with a statement of purpose. I possessed both but did not feel compelled to share them with my new administrator. I assumed she respected me for the decades of success I garnered. Hindsight is 20/20. Assuming anything with an administrator places you in rough waters before your boat launches. A clear reckoning with the administrator, before the first audition ever takes place, would provide a proactive stance. Go one step further: record the collaboration with your admin, as a joint statement. With his permission, place it on your website. Tomorrow’s blog will cover appropriate questions to assure the agreement reflects both the admin and the instructor.


Enjoy a summer read which addresses these situations and provides solutions. Rescue the Teacher, Save the Child! is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

PROBLEM # 10: TENURED, SUCCESSFUL TEACHERS ARE LOSING THEIR JOBS WITH NO DUE PROCESS or WHY YOU SHOULD BUY MY BOOK!

The past nine blogs dealt with issues in our school system. Problem #10 became the epitaph to my 46 year career. Five students and their parents, three colleagues and two administrators contributed to my demise. Those four points of view are found in “RESCUE THE TEACHER, SAVE THE CHILD!”


Problem #10: I left for school on April 25, 2017, knowing it was my End of Year evaluation. Why should that day be any different? Our school supported eight choirs. The a cappella group won the quarter finals of the International Championship of High School A Cappella. In March I took students to New York City to see Broadway shows and participate in workshops by Broadway actors. April saw our choir program honored locally and state-wide. Our a cappella group traveled to Dallas for semi-finals. It was an incredibly successful year until April 25.


The following article appeared in the Colorado Springs Gazette. It best demonstrates how parents and students felt when I was told I could not return to my position I held for nine years:

https://gazette.com/news/air-academy-high-choir-teacher-retiring-after-being-called-out/article_e8bb5927-c327-594b-beba-1ab1fba64351.html

What can teachers do in order to avoid what happened to me? Is it legal removing a teacher from his position without due process? What ever happened to honest and transparent conversations between administrators and their staffs? Great questions! Enjoy a summer read which addresses these situations and provides solutions. Rescue the Teacher, Save the Child! is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

PROBLEM # 9: PROACTIVE OR REACTIVE? IT’S TIME TO MAKE PARENTS AND ADMINISTRATORS ACCOUNTABLE or WHY YOU SHOULD BUY MY BOOK!

Over the next few days, I will reveal problems which live in our educational system. Those situations represent all four points of view found in “RESCUE THE TEACHER, SAVE THE CHILD!”: students, parents, teachers and administrators.


Problem #9: Yesterday’s blog referred to the link where parents brawled at their 7 year olds’ baseball game. Coaches and performing arts teachers share the same air: how can we pick the team, the lead in the play, discipline an athlete or require standards of a performer if the parent can level constant complaints without consequences. It’s time coaches and performing arts instructors make the administration and the parents accountable for their actions.


The consequences delved out to the fist-to-cuffs Colorado parents proves once again reacting to a situation is never as affective as implementing proactive tools. In my book, I suggest every coach, performing arts teacher, administrator and parents involved sign a uniform agreement BEFORE the year starts. A committee of coaches, teachers, admin and parents could devise the document. The following should be laid out: 1. all expectations, auditions, team tryouts would provide a clear rubric of selection 2. any questions by parents would be initiated in a face to face meeting 3. confrontational emails or face to face confrontations would not be accepted and could mean the player, parent, coach or instructor suffers consequences for the behavior 4. all parents would sign a code of conduct for all events 5. there would be clear consequences for any defined “misbehavior” of all parties.


There will be times when a parent of an athlete or singer may have serious inquiries into how the athlete or singer is treated. Those questions should take this journey: 1. ask for a face to face meeting with the coach/instructor (emails will no longer be accepted) 2. ask the questions in a non-confrontational way (a neutral third party should attend) 3. if the parent feels unheard, then a meeting with admin should be immediately scheduled with the sole purpose of finding an equitable solution in the compromise. Never should this process become the victim of short-cuts.


Can we actually avoid the sports brawls of parents? Are administrators the common denominator? Could unhinged parents’ behaviors be compelled to civility? Great questions! Enjoy a summer read which addresses these situations and provides solutions. Rescue the Teacher, Save the Child! is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

PROBLEM # 8: THE ENTITLED, UNHINGED PARENT SYNDROME or WHY YOU SHOULD BUY MY BOOK!

Over the next few days, I will reveal problems which live in our educational system. Those situations represent all four points of view found in “RESCUE THE TEACHER, SAVE THE CHILD!”: students, parents, teachers and administrators.


Problem #8: Take a look at the link below and watch parents brawling at their 7 year olds’ baseball game. This happened less than an hour from my home. Whereas parents may not physically attack teachers, their caustic verbal attacks leave the same scars.

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/parents-throw-punches-not-baseballs-brawl-children-s-baseball-game-n1019311

Four parents contributed to my demise. Their complaints: my daughter did not make the audition to perform in the talent show; my daughter believes the teacher is biased in appointing soloists; the teacher won’t excuse my daughter from a required attendance concert; the teacher passed a bucket for a student in need. Does this not reflect the “my kid must win at all costs”? And so goes the daily plight of teachers.


Yesterday I wrote to a nationally syndicated television show and pitched an idea of dedicating a program to the demise of our nation’s teachers. Within 30 seconds (this is not an exaggeration), the platform emailed back they were not interested in this kind of a story. And there lies the issue: teachers are leaving in greater numbers than ever before due to a hostile work place but it’s not a story worth investigating.


Could we change the attitudes of parents? Are administrators the frontline in protecting their staff? Could entitled, unhinged parents be the primary reason teachers are leaving? Great questions! Enjoy a summer read which addresses these situations and provides solutions. Rescue the Teacher, Save the Child! is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

PROBLEM #7: HOW TO AFFECT CHANGE IN CHILDREN WHO FEEL INVISIBLE or WHY YOU SHOULD PURCHASE MY BOOK!

Over the next few days, I will reveal problems which live in our educational system. Those situations represent all four points of view found in “RESCUE THE TEACHER, SAVE THE CHILD!”: students, parents, teachers and administrators.


Problem #7: When children feel disconnected from their teachers, peers and school experience, open hostility will dominate the learning environment.


Many times my administrators accused me of getting too close to my students. Yet in the 21st century best teaching practices, especially Emotional Intelligence, educators are encouraged to “be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationship judiciously and empathetically. It is the key to both personal and professional success.” A theatre instructor once used this analogy to acting: is there a cement brick wall, a heavy dark curtain, a thin piece of glass or nothing between you and the audience. The latter is the wise choice of an actor. Shouldn’t it also be the choice of a wise educator? If you are not already, become emotionally available to your students. Blurring or destroying the precious line between student and teacher may cost you a reprimand. If your administrator cannot own the importance of emotionally connecting to your students, start looking for a new job! You may be the one person who affects positive change in that one child. Do not miss that opportunity.


In the previous blog, I alluded to God and religious teachings. If you walk with God, demonstrate your beliefs with your actions. Do not be afraid to stand up for any child who is bullied. He or she must know there is an adult somewhere in the building who will not question their real sense of fear. Embrace those students who walk to the beat of a different drum and celebrate their differences. Understand today’s students cannot be viewed through the eyes of someone unwilling to see diversity as an asset. Honor those students who struggle in their day to day dealings with their peers. Honor them with a safe place to learn and a viable adult advocate.


Could a three hour, small group retreat before school started solve the disconnected student syndrome? How would students sharing their story, before the school year begins, increase ownership to their school? Are students able to walk in others’ shoes? Can a moral compass and holding the sanctity of life be taught without invoking a religion? Yes, but only with a planned approach implemented before school begins. Enjoy a summer read which addresses these situations and provides solutions. Rescue the Teacher, Save the Child! is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

PROBLEM #6: LACK OF MORAL COMPASS AND SANCTITY OF LIFE IN OUR SCHOOLS or WHY YOU SHOULD PURCHASE MY BOOK!

Over the next few days, I will reveal problems which live in our educational system. Those situations represent all four points of view found in “RESCUE THE TEACHER, SAVE THE CHILD!”: students, parents, teachers and administrators.


Problem #6: We can no longer teach as if children are equipped with a moral compass or they understand the sanctity of life.


In 1962 when God was asked to vacate the public schools, one of the best arguments for keeping church and state separated was children would receive their religious teachings from their church, synagogue or temple. And of course, their parents would first and foremost provide their children with the basics of humankind: do unto others as you would have them do unto you, known as the Golden Rule. Those teachers in today’s educational trenches will tell you the loss of civility amongst our children is the lack of any moral compass from either religious institutions or parents. The reason? Churches, synagogues and temples are struggling to keep children and teenagers attending. Parents find themselves struggling to keep their heads above water. Somewhere in the chaos, they forget or ignore their responsibility to teach their children to discern right from wrong. In my experience, my troubled students were a product of disconnected parents.


When I began teaching in 1971, in my wildest dreams, I could not conjure a school shooting. Even after Columbine, I was sure that fateful day would remain a once in a lifetime hideous event. But in the final five years of my last position, I worried almost everyday that my school could become the next statistic. In fact, it continues to blow my mind, after a shooting, when kids and adults from that school take to the evening news with remarks, “We never thought it could happen to us.” How could you not believe your school is next? The whole scenario of someone wanting to kill innocent children feels as if it would be a better script for a horror movie than real life. And yes, that is one of the problems. Our children, while engulfed in animated violence on their daily screens, have lost the sanctity of life.


What religious teachings do the public schools adopt? Whose God shall be represented? How do we help children empathize with their peers and adults? Tune in tomorrow. I have answers. Or you could take a break and enjoy a summer read which addresses these situations and provides solutions. Rescue the Teacher, Save the Child! is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

PROBLEM #5: 21ST CENTURY CONSEQUENCE-FREE SOCIETY or WHY YOU SHOULD PURCHASE MY BOOK!

Over the next few days, I will reveal problems which live in our educational system. Those situations represent all four points of view found in “RESCUE THE TEACHER, SAVE THE CHILD!”: students, parents, teachers and administrators.


Problem #5: A litany of a consequence-free society:


*If you purposely bring false charges against a person and they are proven bogus, there exists no consequence for the accuser. This plays out everyday in mainstream media and in our court system.
*If a school board touts a policy of “putting kids first” yet they support the harassment of older, experienced teachers in order to drive them out, there are no consequences for their actions or the offending administrator.
*Hypothetical circle of a consequence-free society: If a child disrupts his home life and is inclined to abusive behavior, parents are reluctant to administer consequences. Same disrespectful child comes to school, where he continually causes problems. If the teacher tries to hand out consequences, the parent complains to the administrator. It appears easier to side with the parent, so the administrator scolds the teacher for the consequences and the parent knows he officially tied the hands of the school. Same child grows up searching for a vocation and of course the parents blame the school system. Now this adult, who believes teaching is the only thing left to do, receives a degree in education. He opens his first day of class in torn jeans and a t-shirt, lectures with profanity, buddies up with his students and we wonder what has happened to the educational system.
*Dress codes: there is no consequence, in most schools, if a student comes inappropriately dressed. When I suggested to one of my parents her daughter’s dress was too short for the stage, the parent explained his child had a right to wear whatever she wished.
*Profane language: One of my students told another school’s choir to F off (she used the word). When I asked for a meeting with the principal, her father sighed and asked why he had to come to the meeting. The girl’s mother boldly stated “it’s a free world and my daughter can say anything she wishes.” And the consequence? Drum roll: there was none.
*Complaining, manipulative parents receive no consequence for harassing a teacher.
*Seldom is bullying addressed and if it is, the condescending rebuke by the administrator to the victim of the bullying allows a consequence-free bully to continue his reign of misdeeds.


So where have all the consequences gone? Everyone appears to fear the word “no.” No, you cannot bring charges without proof. No, you cannot “fire” older teachers just to balance the budget. No, you cannot act out at home. No, you cannot behave this way in school. No, you cannot blame the teacher for trying to establish decorum in his classroom. No, you cannot wear revealing clothes to school. No, you are not allowed to use those words in a civil conversation. No, you cannot demean my staff. No, you cannot bully anyone in this school. The ending to these conversations: And if you decide to continue with this detrimental behavior, you will suffer consequences.

How do you fight back against false charges? How do you protect yourself from forced retirement? Is there a way to correct poor behavior in children and have parents on board? With today’s ACLU oriented society, do we dare ask kids to dress and speak appropriately? What is the response to chronically complaining parents? Is there a way to stop bullying? Great questions. Take a break and enjoy a summer read which addresses these situations and provides solutions. Rescue the Teacher, Save the Child! is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

PROBLEM #4: ADMINISTRATORS WHO CANNOT OR WILL NOT ADMINISTRATE or WHY YOU SHOULD PURCHASE MY BOOK!

Over the next few days, I will reveal problems which live in our educational system. Those situations represent all four points of view found in “RESCUE THE TEACHER, SAVE THE CHILD!”: students, parents, teachers and administrators.

Problem #4: In the 1970’s an assistant principal called me out in a public meeting because he did not like my curriculum, which included an auditioned choir. Before I could respond, the principle turned to his cohort and stated emphatically: I’m going to tell you the same thing the superintendent told me when I called out the basketball coach for starting the wrong players. Shut up!

In the early ’90’s, my principal shielded his staff from parental rough ups. When a parent complained, the principal would go directly to the teacher and ask what happened. In most situations, the child did not reflect to the parent the actual events. No surprise there. The principal would then relate to the parent that he investigated the matter and the teacher made the correct call. I was a performing arts teacher so I know the complaints were there: why didn’t Susie get into the highest choir; didn’t Johnny deserve to have the lead in the musical, etc. Interestingly, I never heard from the parents directly. All complaints went to the principal where he was able to defuse the temper tantrum of the entitled parent. No teachers ever complained of harassment by the administration. There were no blindsided “gotcha” meetings. It was a time period where not only did I adore teaching but I was encouraged to grow in a caring environment.

Where are those administrators today? I have no idea. For the past 20 years, I became the victim of stark reality: today’s administrators do not feel compelled to support their staff. If they do shield a teacher, it is usually based on a teacher who holds “favored child” status. In my experience, the favored child syndrome is bestowed to those staff who cannot navigate a classroom. Perhaps the adage of “water seeks its own level” manifests itself in administrators’ fear of opinionated, bright educators who do not “rubber stamp” the administration agenda.

How do you deal with today’s inept, biased and limited-vision administrators? Can you do it alone? When do you know the time is right to change schools or quit? How do you fight back if you are wrongly released from your position? Great questions. Take a break and enjoy a summer read which addresses these situations and provides solutions. Rescue the Teacher, Save the Child! is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.