"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Profession That Left Gerald Conti

1 comment:

  1. The first time we at our little elementary school were exposed to a principal who had bought into this new anti-teacher philosophy we were shocked. At our first faculty meeting he announced, "Now I won't tolerate any more rowdy behavior during assemblies."

    Was he from Mars? We had been widely complimented for our friendly and respectful student body by those who performed before or attended our assemblies. Our relationship went downhill from there. Despite a lot of smiles and positive comments, his introduction of rules and restrictions and a one-way pattern of communication revealed his assumption that we were uncommitted and uncooperative--that we needed to be managed with carrots and sticks in a manner that would make Skinner proud.

    In a very short time he lost our respect, but we didn't lose our professionalism. Is if by an unspoken agreement we cooperated with his ambitions and did our best to serve the students. He got district and national attention for his "innovations" and was rewarded with a promotion to a larger, more prestigious school.

    We were rewarded with his departure and subsequently enjoyed one final pleasant term with one of the last of the breed of old-style principals--the kind who saw we were doing the best we could with what we had. She did all she could to provide us with the support we needed.

    A few more years and the reprieve was over. We again were saddled with the new breed of administrator whose decisions were all "data-based." She micro-managed all our schedules and curriculum decisions. So-called "collaboration meetings" were all top-down. No more room for individual initiative.

    Under her "purge the faculty" system one or two of us were singled out every year for daily scrutiny and criticism until the target teachers transferred or quit. As a rather independent type I was a target one year. I only survived with support of our professional association.

    By then I recognized that the outlook would remain bleak for years. I had taught enough years to live on retirement, so I cut bait.

    I mourn the passing of my career and pray for a return to professionalism for the sake of the students and teachers I left behind.