If we invert the perceived power structure in our school district, and teachers become the highest eschelon of employee (as far as perception and delivery of services is concerned), then the following things will have to be accomplished:
- re-train administrators (pricipals and assistant principals, et.al.) to serve teachers. They should make eye contact with every single teacher in their building, every single day, and make sure those teachers' needs are being met. They need to make sure they listen to the teachers, and make sure they are happy. The administrators should do everything in their power to avoid asking teachers to do extra duty. They should do it themselves, to free the teachers to do their jobs. If subs are in short supply, the administrator should teach that day, instead of asking the teachers to do it on their planning periods.
- re-train upper administrators, so that they serve building administrators. The building administrators will balk at their training, because currently they are accountable to upper administrators. They have to answer to them about test scores, curriculum, etc. Remove this from their duties. Building administrators are too busy serving teachers to compile data and fret over curriculum. The upper administrators need to do that job, or make sure it gets done. They need to serve the building administrators, instead of the other way around.
- re-train the super higher-ups to serve the upper administrators. The higher-ups should serve the uppers by providing them with what they need to do their job. These are the people who get things done, but don't necessarily do it themselves. They instruct others to make things happen, toward the benefit of the upper administrators.
- The highest ups, the Gurus, need to answer to all of these people, of course. They need to gather the experts to think of solutions for problems, and implement them. They need to listen to all sides of all stories, and make decisions that will support teachers.
How can we support teachers?
- Pay them by merit. The current system that is being implemented is a nice first step, but it is not enough. This school district needs to be the first district in the nation to pay a teacher $100,000 on merit. If that happens, people will start lining up to work for us. We will then be able to choose among a vast talent pool, hand-picking the best teachers for our district. This will result in even better instruction, better experts from which to choose for staff development, etc.
- Provide them the support that current higher-ups enjoy. This may take the form of a copy service, for starters. Office assistants may need to be re-trained to serve teachers, as well. They can make phone calls to parents, arrange meetings, organize their calendars for such meetings, etc. Certain positions in the district that now seem superfluous could be turned into office assistant jobs for teachers. These folks might also be able to provide the copy service. Hmm.
- Provide teachers with a say in who their administrator is, and let them have a say in evaluating that administrator's performance.
- Provide small, random motivational gifts to teachers, to show our appreciation of them.
- Re-institute the Teacher of the Year idea, with teachers nominating each other, and have an awards ceremony every year, with very real prizes. The prizes and ceremony, etc. will be donated. The ceremony should be black-tie. The ceremony itself could be a fund-raiser for the district. Red carpet, paparazzi, everything.