I work at a school that is in trouble. We are not making AYP, and we haven’t been for a while now. I think we’re at the point where we really should be fresh-started, and everyone should be let go and have to interview for their own jobs. We are definitely at the point where we need a new principal. Our test scores are poor, and not even our white kids are making a year’s worth of progress in math.
And yet — no one seems to be worried, no one seems to be doing anything. The principal keeps on telling us that everything is fine and we’re all doing a great job, and so the teachers just put their heads back in the sand. Few people seem concerned that we are failing our students. And the district isn’t helping in any way that I can see.
This year has been disillusioning for me. I used to think we were a good school with a really good staff, and now that I am a mentor, I know better. I used to think that our principal was terrific, and now…I know better. I can see that we are a ship without a captain, and have learned what it feels like to crave strong leadership.
The master teacher I work with can see the big picture, and she is getting more and more worried. She knows what needs to be done, but it isn’t her job to do it — it’s the principal’s. She is sort of taking on the weight of the building as she tries to get through to him, and prod him to think ahead and make decisions. All it’s doing is wearing her out.
However, there are little rays of sunshine to notice, here and there. I had a conference with a first grade teacher this morning, about the lesson I observed her teaching last week, and it went really well. We looked at her scores from the fall, and she has improved so much. Her teaching incorporates the instructional rubric and best practices, and she is clearly really self-reflective. And even the kindergarten teachers, who have been so resistant to change all year, are all doing high-quality interactive read-alouds with their classes every week.
We have learned this year, and we have improved. I just don’t know if it’s enough.