THE IMPORTANCE OF THE RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN TEACHERS AND SCHOOL PRINCIPALS

The following blog is from the “cutting room floor” of my book. Find out more and purchase RESCUE THE TEACHER, SAVE THE CHILD! available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Results of a study [(Leithwood et al. (2004), Marzano, Waters, and McNulty (2005), Portin et al. (2009), Louis and Leithwood et al. (2010), and Knapp et al. (2010)] stated that relationships between teachers and the school principal are extremely important in high-performing schools. The study showed principals identified three dominant factors in positive relationships between principals and teachers that impact student achievement. Leadership and support, communication, and inter-personal (trust and respect) skills were found to be the most important factors in developing positive relationships between principals and teachers which impact student achievement.

If I were determining which of those three is paramount to accelerated standards in any school, I would firmly state ‘trust and respect.’ I have worked in an environment lacking in both of those characteristics. There is nothing comparable to a teacher’s fear when he pulls into the parking lot that today may be one of those days were he is not only unappreciated by his students and parents but equally unsupported by his administration.

Enjoy a summer read and at the same time, garner ideas and empowerment for your teaching experience next fall.

LAND OF THE FREE, HOME OF THE BRAVE: NEW FOUND PATRIOTISM

Audie Murphy, one of America’s most decorated soldiers.
Audie Murphy’s one man stand in the battle for the Colmar Pocket.
The actual area of Murphy’s one man effort to free the Colmar Pocket.

The darkness of the forest shielded me from the day’s intense heat. The serene quiet assured me this was holy ground as these Vosges Mountains, located in the French Colmar Pocket, witnessed one of the fiercest battles of World War II. As our guide related the story of Audie Murphy’s one man stand, my memory barely flickered at the mention of the event. In January of 1945, this young American soldier held off the enemy, alone. He sent his men to a safer distance while he fought off enemy tanks and infantry. With his field phone in hand and a .50 caliber machine gun, Murphy stood on a flaming tank and began his “one man stand.” This story clearly demonstrated Murphy’s bravery, love of his men and a determination to win back a territory long held under enemy suppression. As I stood in the solace, it reminded me of an emotion which is under attack and held hostage by those who cannot understand its importance: patriotism. My own patriotic feelings buried by those who would shame me for loving my country and the brave who fought for her.

A light breeze moved the leaves ever so slightly as the guide finished Audie Murphy’s story. One lone beam of sunlight found its way through the arches of the tall pines. As the final segment to this tour, the guide recited the Veteran’s Prayer. Words like “sacrifice, love, honor” drifted in the air. No one dare move so as not to disturb this incredible moment of memorializing those who willingly gave their lives. And then it happened. A distant church bell slowly tolled as if to pay its own homage to the moment of solemnity. There were audible sounds of suppressed sobs. This band of tourists, who knew nothing of each other’s stories, came together for one moment: to honor the patriotic efforts of an American, Audie Murphy.

Why did I chose to write about this on a teaching blog? Our schools are rewriting and omitting “politically incorrect” history. Statues and murals of our founding fathers, flawed as they were, are destroyed in the name of 21st Century Correctness. Our children are experiencing apologetics for our nation instead of unconditional love for our country. On sporting fields, the National Anthem is highjacked for political purposes of souring our children on the very country which insures their freedom.

The tour guide left us with these final words: thank you America for freeing us from the Nazi’s and the evil which prevailed in our villages and cities. Her voice broke as she welled up with tears. She continued, “We will always be grateful for the sacrifice you made to save our country.” My one wish, at that moment, was all children could witness the admiration for our country professed by this French guide . Our country is doomed for failure if patriotism can only be found after a 9/11 event or on July 4th. We need to assure accurate portrayals of history so our children understand this country never intended to bathe in a false light of superiority. While we are far from perfection, it is our imperfection which hones us to become better citizens. Upholding the tenants of liberty through our varied history is patriotic and must be forwarded to the next generations. Teachers are the future guides. The stories of America’s plight for freedom, through the actions of the brave, must never be forgotten.

I’m Baaack!

In case you missed me, I took a needed break. Upon discovering we never took an overseas trip in our 39 year marriage, my husband and I traveled (via the Rhine River) through the Netherlands, Germany, France and Switzerland on a Vikings longboat. It was amazing! The picture illustrates one of the small villages we encountered on the Middle Rhine. I would encourage you to take any of the Vikings tours. They arranged all air travel, transportation to and from the boat. The cost included all tipping, wine, beer and cocktails.

I’ll be “baack” tomorrow with a post of one incredible moment experienced at the Audie Murphy “one man stand” site in Germany. Tune in!

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.