A Shrewdness of Apes

An Okie teacher banished to the Midwest. "Education is not the filling a bucket but the lighting of a fire."-- William Butler Yeats

Thursday, April 24, 2008

In which I learn what "servant leadership" really means

You know, every day, I try to learn something. It may be something unpleasant, but those are the risks one takes.

Today's knowledge nugget came courtesy of two assistant principals. Now, if you're a regular reader here, you know that we are undergoing massive administrator flight. One of these of whom I speak is already on the wing and one is frantically on the lookout for a new job like an emaciated robin looking for a worm fool enough to pop its head up.

Half the principals were missing as I headed to duty-- who knows where they were, but hey, the halls still awaited clearing so I just shrugged the shoulders and headed back to the dungeon, the remote part of the building where I cast a wide net for all kinds of lurkers who should be in class and doing other inconsequential tasks like learning. So I had just had an extraordinary encounter with a young person who was pretty out-of-control, and so I had to do the paperwork, which I hate to do. I really try to avoid even getting to that point for my own sanity, but this couldn't be avoided, and there are lines that can't be crossed. But when I tried to turn in the referral, neither one of them initially wanted to take it, and basically asked me what I expected THEM to do with it. The bitter taste from swallowing all the smart-aleck comments that rose unbidden in my throat was almost more than I could bear. One shunted me off to another guy, and the other guy tried to shunt me off elsewhere, but I wouldn't be shunted at that point, and I think I got a glint in my eye so that at least I could hand off the damn thing and head back to my post like a good soldier.

But I was pretty annoyed by the time I was finally relieved of my little stack of paper. I am directed to help them with their supervision, and they give me grief. As a teacher, I already understand that I am here to serve the students. I don't have an office door that I can shut to get some work done, like some, so I'm always pretty busy. But apparently this "servant leadership" thing that I keep hearing all these administrators and candidates suddenly talking about means that they are leading a bunch of THEIR servants. Here I thought it was in a kind of Biblical meaning, as in Jesus admonishing the apostles that he came not to be served but to serve. We, the teachers, live to serve at their pleasure! Now I get it!

Lesson learned.

****Updated: I very gently and tactfully expressed my feeling about this encounter to the two individuals involved. Result? One immediate, very sincere apology, and one justification for behavior. Comme si, comme ca.

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At 4/24/08, 6:40 PM, Blogger Mrs. Chili said...


I wish I had something sage and helpful to offer, but there's really nothing, is there?

I'm here, and I'm listening.

At 4/24/08, 10:54 PM, Blogger TeacherDee said...

I spent 10 precious minutes after school tracking down a student's jacket one day because her mom was on the phone and mad. Ten minutes isn't much time, but I spent every one of them fuming. Second graders can be responsible for their own coats! I wonder how much better my teaching would be (and how much less I would spend doing at home) without the petty phone calls, committee meetings, hoop jumping, etc. If all we had to do in a day was plan our instruction, assessment and (pertinent) parent contact we could be that much better. Some people just stay late or work hours on the weekend, but my family and my own well being are important, too, darn it!

At 4/25/08, 12:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My husband's principal is also very into "servant leadership." Which seems to mean "I refuse to do a blessed thing to make your job easier, but I expect you to drop everything (including your students) and come running when I want you."

At 4/25/08, 3:35 PM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

How many days until summer break?????

At 4/25/08, 8:26 PM, Blogger Rita said...

You make me very grateful for my administrative team!

At 4/28/08, 8:32 PM, Blogger Mrs. Bluebird said...

Because I think you're awesome, I've tagged in a meme....


At 4/28/08, 9:23 PM, Blogger Pissed Off said...

It's sad that administrators are the same throughout the land.

Your story is the reason I walk through the halls wearing "blinders". Unless someone is getting killed, I see nothing.


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