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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Administrators' Evaluations

Honesty is not celebrated in my school district. Alliances are. I suppose it's back scratching of sorts. But I don't really understand how my districts' big bosses' backs are getting scratched. I mean, I see that my former violent and abusive principal's itches are immediately eased. If he communicates to district leadership that--"juusstt in the middle-yes, right there!"-he's got a itch he just can't reach, they'll help him. They will DESCEND! Back scratchers in tow. Scratch, scratch scratch- two to three $200,000+ salaried individuals appear to be at his (and others' I imagine) "back" beck. And call for that matter.

What's up with that? How come? I mean: "What's up? and "How come?" questions seem appropriate here. Maybe a "What's in it for them?"

I don't have answers really. I guess it's the status-quo. The way "things're done 'round here."

Man, oh man! I've had a vision-right now! Well dressed scurrying "hamster" people, papers in hand, in corporate offices, flitting from one coverup to another! 'Round and round they go! 

Oh yeah, I am getting somewhere with this. That's what they are paid to do.

I thought they were paid to help me. Thought they were there to assure that children, for instance, benefited from my and other well meaning peoples' bullying prevention efforts. I thought they were there to help principals help me.

I thought they were there to help children. But really, they are not. They are there to help each other.

That's hard for me to write.

They are there to assure that their higher-ups NEVER receive ANY bad news.

Scurry, scurry. Sweep, sweep. Get that paycheck. Put it in the bank.

Here's what employees "can bank on" , it seems: no true leadership. We truth tellers, like reporting children "can bank on" being called out as snitches. Oh yeah, I said it. We can "bank on" being thought of as traitors.

"I don't trust you.", my former principal once told me. I responded, "If I were you, I would trust me the most. I will tell you the truth."

Truth was not celebrated there. Scurry, scurry. Cover up. GET RID OF HER!

I got into this counseling thing knowing I would face many challenges. I got in by getting out of that "flying-around -the -world -and -having -lots -and -lots -of -fun -while -being -paid -more- money -than-I-will - ever -make -here" thing.

I work in a large and urban district. I love it. I love the students and I love their families. I love connecting. I love the multi-lingual, yet always human connection, I get to have with people. I really love helping them.

I got into this counseling thing thinking the challenges I would face would be the challenges my students and their families face.

I got in for all the right reasons.

So it flat out makes me mad that my district leaders have created a place where administrators like my former principal thrive. My district's leaders are to blame. They are not keeping me and others safe. They are not keeping children safe.

They are keeping each other safe. They give each other stellar evaluations. They document excellence where there is very little of that. They scratch backs.

Here's a sad thing. My former principal, in my opinion, needs help. He really does. But he's the over-the-top example of bullying, lying, aggressive and violent leadership. General boorish, uncivil and ineffective leadership is commonplace in my school district.

If I'd treated passengers on airplanes the way I've seen school administrators treat their employees, I would not have been a flight attendant for long.

It seems though, that if I'd been let go from that job, I could have gone straight into school administration. The kind of behavior for which I would have been fired as an airline employee is the kind of behavior my school district appears to look for in their school administrators.

Here's how that interview might have gone:

"Ms. Werner, please give me an example of your loutish and boorish treatment of a passenger."

"Well, I really can't. I sometimes got annoyed with a loutish and boorish passenger, but even then I was respectful."

"And with your fellow flight attendants? Gate agents? Bus drivers?"

"Hmmmmmm..... no, really. Certainly there were people with whom I preferred not to work. But I simply cannot think of one time I was rude with a co-worker. I really worked hard at remembering names, smiling at people and just in general being civil and fun--both with other employees and with passengers. I myself just had a more positive experience doing that. Is that bad?"

"Well Ms. Werner, as you know from having interviewed prospective flight attendants yourself; you know we are looking for that "fit." We're looking for people who will help us reach our goals. We need to see that what we need fits what you are looking for."

"Great. Thank you. I am looking for an opportunity to make a difference in children's and their families' lives. I think school leadership affords me that opportunity. If you hire me I promise to do my best to truly help all children reach their potential. I will do that by being a positive role model for students and for those who work for me. I am not perfect by a long shot. But I will work hard at demonstrating to everyone that doing right things is rewarded."

"Ms. Werner, honey, we'll get back to you......."

Here are some common examples of leadership I have experienced:

I have been screamed at in meetings. "CAN'T YOU GET YOUR JOB DONE LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE?" This immediately following my return from my mother's funeral.

I have been interrupted mid-sentence and told to "shush" by an assistant principal. Me flabbergasted. Me, though, toughened up from past affronts. Me requesting respectful treatment. Did what we instruct adolescents to do. Used an "I feel, when you....."statement.

"I feel disrespected when you interrupt me".... Inside saying this to myself:"Just let me get my sentence out for goodness sakes! "

This same school leader is known for her dismissive and erratic behavior. She keeps reports from her desk with that very behavior. For why would we go to her? It's risky. Better to just keep it to ourselves. Shut up. Heave a sigh and suck it up. If it gets too awful, we'll go talk to anyone of the rest of us. We've all had the same experience.

I have been blocked. Requests I've made to further school- wide bullying prevention efforts not answered. No response. Or: my district wide efforts at feeder pattern bullying prevention met, not with enthusiasm, but with a warning. "Watch your place.", I was told by a district director in my office. "You do not represent the district. Watch your place."

Sadly I am no longer flabbergasted. No longer surprised.

Sadly, what surprises me now is respectful, kind, creative and confident leaders. I do not, now , expect that.


I got into this counseling thing for the right reasons.......

Still though, someone did hire me. A principal. A principled principal. 

It seems there may be one. I hope there are more. 

Have an amazing week out there!

7:33 pm edt          Comments

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Click here for my district's bullying and harassment policy. You will see I have made comments....