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?


At 10:02 PM, Blogger Mr. C

I think, especially as administrators, we have to be flexible in our institutional loyalty, and take a kind of "love the one you're with" approach. While it's important we love our schools and believe in their ultimate supreme position in the district hierarchy, it can't be to the exclusion of other schools, or even other districts.
The role of the AP is often that of staff cheerleader, and teachers, like the students we teach, can sense bullshit a mile away, so we have to be sincere in our love for our current assignments even if we need to dig deep to find something to lovable about it, because if they don't believe that we love the place, they won't do what needs to be done in order to change the place into something to love.
Our personal, professional reality though, is like you say: maybe 5 years on average before we go somewhere else, so it's important that we don't prematurely close any professional doors. It's a challenging tightrope to walk.


At 9:38 AM, Anonymous Jude

I'm involved with two different school districts. The one where I work is small, with three schools. The teachers at the schools are convinced that while they are good teachers, everyone at the other two schools is incompetent. This year, we're finally trying some more integrated approaches to curriculum development, where coaches will travel between schools. A few joint teacher development days a year don't cut it, so perhaps this will improve things. At the district where my kids attend and I've volunteered for years, there's a pecking order in the three elementary schools in my town. I choose to donate Boxtops for Education to the poorest school, but I serve all three as an occasional volunteer. We're still a fairly small town, but even within this one town the prejudice about the schools from the staffs and community are strange and not necessarily founded in reality. Because I've only been involved with these two school districts, I tend to view schools as bizarre political entities where infighting is endemic.


At 7:02 AM, Anonymous dkzody

Loved your idea about ass't supes having offices at schools...would be nice just to SEE an ass't supe or even the big guy himself. They all cloister themselves downtown, far from the craziness and dailiness of school life. No one in the district office knows what happens in the hallways, in the classrooms, or in the teacher lounges.


At 1:51 PM, Blogger Melissa B.

We have dozens of admin in our SUPER HUGE district. We're not used to seeing Central Office types, so when they show up, everyone's in a dither! But let's put aside serious matters for now. BTW, it's that time of week again--please drop on in for a little Silly Summer Sunday Sweepstakes. You have 2 chances to play!