Solutions to the Education Blame Game

Flickr photo by A2gemma
I'm tired of hearing complaints about teacher training, teacher evaluation and teacher tenure that point the finger at teachers, but fail to hold educational leadership accountable for their contribution to these problems. 

The core function of schools is teaching and learning, and yet most school leaders spend a great deal of their time dealing with issues that are only indirectly related to teaching and learning. 

Many of the issues related to teacher performance could be eliminated if educators were provided with an appropriate amount of time to attend to the core function. School principal are supposed to be instructional leaders, but often do not have enough time to supervise and support instructional practice. 

The new teacher attrition rate is often a result of novices being thrown into a new profession with little support or mentoring, not because of inadequate training.  Even if they hold an advanced degree, many corporations spend thousands of dollars and countless hours preparing new employees to successfully enter their workplace. In contrast,  new teachers are often given the least desirable teaching assignments, with busy schedules that don't provide them with the time needed to interact, collaborate and learn from their colleagues. 

I have always found it ironic when educational administrators complain about teacher tenure, as the only way for a teacher to get tenure is by having a principal recommend them for tenure. Providing principals with enough time to properly interview and assess teacher candidates during the hiring process and then the time and resources to evaluate their performance during their first years of teaching would help to ensure that under-qualified or poor performing teachers don't get tenure in the first place.

Using standardized test results as a measure of teacher skill is just another cheap (not so cheap) and easy way to pretend that school systems are addressing the issue of teacher quality. Let's be honest - Principals can't do it all, nor should they have to. Teachers, students, and parents all have a role to play in determining what good teaching looks like. Teacher leaders, those master teachers that are found in every school, need to be provided with the time to work with the principal to support instructional practice. As the first line of defence, teacher leaders could provide invaluable support for new teachers, while facilitating a collaborative environment that sets high expectations for student and teacher performance.

Despite the image accompanying this blog post, these statements are not meant to point the finger at principals, but to draw attention to the challenging work they do and the systemic deficiencies that persist. These challenges will continue to persist until the education community carefully examines all the factors that have contributed to these problems and realizes that we have to work together and draw on the talents of all leaders to find solutions. 
Flickr photo by Lumaxart

No comments:

Post a Comment