Dear Teachers, Can We Tear Down the Great Divide?
I saw your post and it made me pause and do some real thinking. I know you are a strong, respected professional who can represent the teacher viewpoint on the issue. Here’s hoping I can speak for administrators here in our corner of the Internet.
I can still recall the moment and feeling I had when one of the very best in your field, upon telling me she did not agree with a decision I made, looked at me and in anger said “you’ve forgotten what it’s like to be a teacher.” To some degree, she was right. While I have taught before, I didn’t know what it was like to work with her students and the mandates she faced that year.
To some degree, I’d say “you don’t know what it’s like to sit in my chair.” It was a major change when I moved from being a teacher to being an administrator; truly, it was getting a new job. It was my first year of teaching all over again, in front of professionals with expectations of me, some who knew me as a peer a year before.
A gap exists. It’s there because we have very different jobs. We work in the same place, our goal is the same, but our roles are different. What’s needed (in my view) is an environment where we presume positive intent, which requires a lot of trust.
“Support” is a two way street. You need me as your administrator to support you and your work. I need the same from you. Each time something is reported to me about a teacher, I cannot rush to judgement and I must remember that there is more than one perspective. I need to trust the teacher, as a professional, and hear what they have to say on the matter. The challenge for you in supporting me lies in the fact that sometimes, I can’t always talk about my side of the issue and the “other perspective” belongs to one of your colleagues.
Part of the solution requires blind faith. Part of the solution requires more transparency from both of us on our challenges. We both can do a better job of saying “I trust you,” “I respect you,” and “we disagree, but we’re both professionals who want the best for students.” Part calls for some tangible action, like me dealing with some mandates or you sitting in on that tough parent meeting about one of your colleagues.
I hope we can keep talking. Together we’re better.
Let’s close the gap,