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

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Tuesday Musing 14: Cindy Lou or Grinch?

For your consideration: as we revel in an absolutely brilliant episode of Glee tonight, it seemed so apropos. Who is winning the fight for your holiday spirit right now? Are you feeling Cindy Lou Who, or are you feeling Grinchy?

I have been fighting the Grinch, but that show helped tilt the axis. How about you?

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Rest in Peace, Elizabeth Anania Edwards

Elizabeth Edwards, advocate, mother, cancer fighter, and political wife, passed away today after battling cancer since 2004.

Her ability to inspire others, her willingness to speak out for the less fortunate, and her ability to remain positive in the face of a devastating diagnosis truly exemplify strength and grace.


Saturday, December 04, 2010

Bunker Mentality

It's once again been over two weeks since we've seen administrators anywhere in the building-- the crises just keep rolling along. I do not envy them. But it seems that even on days when there aren't hearings or meetings with parents, Our Dear Leader hunkers down behind closed doors and pulled shades.

Let me tell you, this is not a good thing to do.

Now, we've long ago given up the idea that a principal should be an instructional leader, although that would seem to be necessary with the district rolling out some new instructional initiative every month -- do not think that I exaggerate. But the kids are smelling the fear emanating from the central office better than the Predator did in that Arnold Schwarzenegger movie. And so are some of the more hard-hearted staff members.

But someone who has more than five seconds of experience in the field of education at the ground level needs to tell you: the problem with hiding in a bunker is more than just the fact that it's awfully hard to push the door back open after a while. There're several others.

1. While you are in there, you completely lose touch with what is going on out in the school. I wonder if the administrators have ef noticed that the more they hide, allegedly taking care of problems, problems multiply even faster?

2. The more you stay in there cowering away, the more irrelevant you appear to both staff and students. That is even worse than point number one, although point number one feeds into point number two.

3. Staying in the bunker appears cowardly since the staff has been left by your default to deal with all the blowback from the crisis du jour. This is especially ironic and deadly if you have previously taken an attitude that staff members are not to be trusted as professionals when THEY have been the ones holding down the fort while you try to decide how to respond.

In Plato's thought experiment known as the Cave, those who were kept in the cave, seeing only shadows projected on the walls of what they told were reality, had no idea what true reality was like. All they knew were distorted shadows. That's wherer any administrators end up who allow themselves to lose touch with their primary tasks.

Don't let this happen to you.

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