Monday, July 28, 2008
posted by Q6 at 5:05 AM
Well, it's official: I will remain in my current school district for 2008-2009. I had one interview a couple of months ago, and their rejection letter motivated me to fill out seven other applications over three districts. I know "people" in two of those districts, and had some pretty high hopes about having the inside track. Nonetheless, I didn't score an interview for ANY of the seven positions I applied for. Not ONE. Needless to say, I'm having some thoughts about my marketability these days. I've been at this a while, and although I need to keep some mitigating factors in mind (like my experience makes me a little expensive, and that this is no economy--particularly in education--to go moving around) I am somewhat bummed about the result of my job search.

There's another thing: I've been moved from my former school site for a number of reasons, and one of the lesser-known of them is that I'm not really liked at all by several members of the district administration (my new principal was almost told this verbatim not long ago). I'm very pro-school-site, and that [apparently] makes me come off as very anti-school-district. Moreover, this new assignment of mine comes with two caveats (the why of this is a long, boring story, and I'll spare you that): there's a strong chance that this assignment won't exist in a year, and I may go when it goes; and if I do get to stay I will have to endure a $12K-a-year pay cut. (Knowing these two things, I went job hunting. Alas, no success.)

So it seems that the only way to a happy ending is to determine exactly how I can use this job to (a) benefit the school site and (b) get back into the good graces of the school district. On the plus side, the dynamics of this new assignment will give me oodles of time to achieve the latter. With all the other changes going on in my life right now (wedding, teenager becoming even older, finances finally in some sort of order, house projects coming along nicely), which are the positives that will outweigh the negative, I should find myself fairly busy.

In any event, it is finally time to embrace the horror and make some sort of attempt to turn this situation to my advantage (unless, of course, any of you out there are still looking for a secondary assistant principal in Southern California.) We'll see how it goes.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
posted by Q6 at 5:42 AM
I haven't done any real research on this issue, but this seems to be rising to the surface in my district. I'm interested in not only pouring out some of my thoughts, but I'm also interested in hearing what those of you in different districts--some of whom may be going through this type of thing--have to say.

I was recently . . . chastised, shall we say, for claiming that my school site was the best in the district. (I don't know why they, the district leadership, had a problem with this; would they rather I said my school was mediocre? Would they have me claim that all the schools are identical when the statistics suggest otherwise? Do they not realize that I will find the positives of ANY school I'm at at sing its praises?) The district would like me, as a site level assistant principal, to represent the whole school district and not just the one site. I suspect this is part of the reason I was recently transfered to a different assignment in the district after seven years in one location. This isn't uncommon at the assistant principal level--in our area, we're usually moved around every five years or so. The idea, of course, is to give us a range of experiences in different locations to prepare us for principalships. (I don't see this as a stepping-stone profession, so I don't care much about being ready for the next rung of the ladder.) Could this not also be seen as a method of professional detachment? Work at enough of the schools in the district and, theoretically, you'd see yourself less as a school-site employee and more as an agent of the district.

When I was a teenager I worked at a video rental chain. The store location at which I worked had its own manager and assistant managers, but there was a district manager who covered all the stores in that area. At each store location he had his own office, even though each office got used, like, once a week. I would think that this parallels the assistant superintendent, who oversees all the secondary schools; that person, theoretically, wouldn't be assigned to any one school site, but all of them. This may be what they're looking for in me at this point. (Of course, if I'm to believe that all schools are equal and my move from 7-12 school-in-the-best-part-of-town to 7-8 school-in-its-fourth-year-of-program-improvement is a lateral move, as they claim, it shouldn't come with a pay cut. Of course, that's my opinion.)

I suppose that the articulation efforts between the middle school (my new site) and the high school we feed into has helped me to better understand this. Coming from a 7-12 environment, articulation was built-in and assumed. Could we not form a relationship that is so close that the lines between schools sites get blurred, creating a 7-12 school in everything but physical placement? Is this one way to detach myself from a school and look more at a district (or zone) allegiance? Or is that the assistant superintendent's role?

So here's the question: What are the benefits and detriments of school loyalty, especially in cases where the administrator is likely to leave within a five year time frame? How should the teachers approach such a management situation? How should the assistant principal approach it?
Thursday, July 17, 2008
posted by Q6 at 8:52 PM
I'm reading The Dumbest Generation by Mark Bauerlein, and it's scaring me to death. For those who haven't seen this yet: all the technology we've been pouring into classrooms for the last ten years? The studies are starting to come in, and the news ain't good. It seems that while we have a generation of young people who are tech savvy, they're not really doing anything productive with it (in fact, they're reading less and achieving less). High schools and colleges who once decided to "go digital" with laptops for every student are now dumping the technology and scrapping the programs, citing no academic progress. Today's college seniors are testing at the same level as high school seniors of 1955. I'm only halfway through the book, but Bauerlein keeps asking the same question: where are all the academic improvements we were supposed to get with the infusion of technology?

Professionally, I'm worried. We've put all this emphasis on technology, but it apparently isn't getting us anywhere. I like it as a communication tool, but that seems to be all it's good for. Could it be possible that because students are using a totally different skill set to learn, we should be testing on those skills instead of the "antiquated" ones we're teaching now? What if concentration falls to the wayside and multi-tasking becomes the norm? The testing methods will have to change dramatically as well. What happens if, God forbid, reading and writing are no longer measurable skills? What school system could possibly accept that?

Personally, I'm frustrated. I have a sixteen-year-old who fits a lot of this modern technology criteria, and his performance levels are, shall we say, consistent with the research. Lots of "screen time," and even if his critical-thinking skills are stimulated by his X-Box games, the school-related output isn't what it could be--or used to be.

The whole thing is worrisome, and I'm hoping that the outlook isn't as dismal as Bauerlein makes it sound. (Maybe I should finish the book. Maybe there's a happy ending after all.)

There is, however, one really funny aspect to this book.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
posted by Q6 at 9:02 AM
I've been quiet lately. It's summer, after all, and I'm enjoying the professional break; I'm in a wedding in August, so there are some items to attend to (I'm the . . . what's it called? Ah, yes: the groom).

Coming soon will be posts about:
  • My change of assignment, and why the professional recoil alone may kill me;
  • An update of progress on my job search, which will be a very short post;
  • A discourse on district centralization, on which I will want feedback;
  • A summary of a speaking engagement I have coming up (for which I am totally unprepared) on the dangers of technology

Stay tuned.