Resistance is futile

November 9, 2007 § Leave a comment

Please pardon me if this post rambles a bit.   I’m living inside my headphones today because I don’t want to have an awkward conversation with a colleague that is going to be tense, and I’m sick, so I really don’t want to be any more stressed today, so instead I’ve got the headphones on as an indication to the world that I don’t want to talk to anyone and I’ve currently got INXS blaring in my ears making it difficult to put together coherent sentences.

Ramble-y enough for you?

So I was reading Miguel’s post about the resistance to change in school districts.  I’ve seen it firsthand, and it’s usually a fight between the Mac people and the PC people, but it goes much deeper than technology.  Technology just happens to be at the forefront currently.  Just the tip of the iceberg.

The reason I bring this up is because of Miguel’s hint at the end of the post as to which local district he’s talking about.  I know the district.  I applied to be Technology Director there last year.  So did another friend of mine, a friend who is a lot more forward than I would ever be in looking for a job.  This friend of mine actually called the personnel director for the district to find out the status on their search for a director.  Spoke with the guy at length, and it turns out that they didn’t even interview anyone from outside the district.  They gave the job to someone in house.

It made me angry.  I knew I was qualified for that job, but I wasn’t even given the chance to show how qualified I was.  When districts don’t explore all of their options for infusing new ideas into their system, they are only making their problems worse.

I saw it when I was in NEISD, too.  They said they wanted ideas from outside of the district, which is one of the reasons they hired me, but when I spoke up and gave my educated opinion and gave them options they hadn’t thought about, they were poo pooed and never went anywhere, which is why I eventually left.  They were so ingrained in their own philosophies that every idea that didn’t jive with the company line was killed.

Think about this – how many of your administrators were hired from in-district?  Isn’t that a bit incestuous?  Administrators from outside of the district bring ideas from outside of the district and fresh ideas are needed to help teachers and students achieve better results.

I’m by no means saying that school districts shouldn’t hire from within, but it seems like there are way too many examples of administrators climbing the ladder because of politics or because they’re incompetent elsewhere.  It’s hard to get rid of people in education, to be sure, but maybe we should do a better job of cleaning house.

Personal story here – when I worked for another large school district in San Antonio, I had a principal who obviously had her favorites, and I wasn’t one of them.  She wouldn’t even say good morning back to me when I saw her in the hall, and this was the woman that hired me.  My second year of teaching, she came into my classroom when I had my 6th graders doing a group activity and yelled at my students in front of my that they were too loud and that she couldn’t tell if any learning was going on.  When she left my room, my students looked at me apologetically, like they had gotten me in trouble.  The thing was, there was a TON of learning going on in that room.  I just taught differently.  She didn’t get it.  I decided on that day that I was going to quit at the end of the year (you wonder why so many teachers quit before they reach 5 years of service?).  Luckily for me, that principal was promoted (!) to the high school we fed into and we got a new principal about 6 weeks later.  The new principal wasn’t much better, but at least she liked me.

The high school she was promoted to didn’t increase their test scores, and she went on to piss off a bunch more people there.

Guess what she’s doing now?

She’s an associate superintendent.

I’m happy to be where I am now, because for the most part, people here are open to ideas that may not fit “the way we do things.”  Districts that don’t have a doctrine, are in my opinion, better off than those that are entrenched in the party line.  At least if something doesn’t work the ideas for how to fix it can come from anyone, anywhere.  Not just from the top.

My point?  Change is going to happen.  People are going to resist that change for any number of reasons, but it’s our job as educators to make change happen.

“Those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.”

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