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Cha-cha-cha-changes

From the Top

We have a new Principal. She seems nice enough, if a bit young. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I have the feeling that our school needs a strong leader, someone who knows how they want things to be. And it seems that strength and vision comes primarily from experience.

On the other hand, our old principal was mostly hands off (except when it came to technology). Not bad (and Oh, I’ve worked for some bad principals), but not great either. It seems that at worst, the new one will be a lateral step. At best, she may just be biding time and getting a feel for what she has to work with, and end up knocking our socks off. For now, I think she’s earned the benefit of the doubt.

Observations

Along with the new principal comes new management in the form of Mayor Villaraigosa’s Partnership 4 Los Angeles Schools. The most obvious upfront change is that every administrator will be expected to observe classrooms for three hours a day1. Over the course of a year, that’s 540 hours. Five administrators at our school makes for 2700 hours of observation. Split that up among slightly over 100 teachers, and I can expect to have someone watching me for about 25 hours this year.

Last year, despite repeated invitations, I got maybe a total of an hour. I look forward to the change, if for no other reason than that our administration may develop a better sense for what’s happening in our classrooms, and how our students (fail to) learn.

Dress Code

There are also rumors of a dress code for teachers. One concerned colleague worried that she might be prohibited from wearing jeans. If it’s a good enough rule for the students, shouldn’t it also be good for the teachers?

Other Positives

Every 6th grade student will take AVID. If it takes, it’ll be a huge benefit – they’ll learn to have an expectation that they need to show up ready to work. On the other hand, we’ll need to train everyone at the school to reinforce that expectation, everywhere.

We’re going schoolwide with the pearson learning teams. I think that’ll be good too, though it may tae a couple of years to pay off. I hope it stays around.

And finally, hopefully, our Safe&Civil will get a higher profile. It’s had limited success in the past, but I still think that school wide discipline is the lynchpin for any success or failure we might have, and this is a way to achieve that without the usual referral/suspension fight.

1 This is a huge change. I think something more along the lines of Scott’s resolution might have been in order, but I’ll take this if it gets followed through on.

{ 4 } Comments

  1. dkzody | August 25, 2008 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    If you have a union I don’t think you’ll have a dress code. It’s easy for administrators to say NOW that they will be out in the classroom. It’s the tyranny of the urgent that will keep them pinned to their desks once school starts. I always love the ideas that sound so good at the beginning of the school year, and usually, within 3 weeks it’s all gone out the window. I’ve written a few down that really appeal to me and wait for them to happen. Some, years later, I’m still waiting for.

  2. Mr. K | August 25, 2008 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    .bq If you have a union

    There is that. However, there seems to be a resolution to break through a lot of the old stalemates between district and union, and this may be symbolic of that as much as anything else. Part of being PI5 is that the state has a lot more freedoms in what they can do.

    The observation directive isn’t coming from the administration – it’s coming from the mayor. I understand the tyranny of the urgent, in which case they may be placed in an untenable situation – I think their jobs may depend on them making a decent effort at this.

  3. Scott Elias | September 3, 2008 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    I’m curious as heck to see how long three hours a day lasts. dkzody hit it on the head — no matter how genuine the intention, there is no way I could realistically say I’d be able to spend almost half of my day in classrooms. Assuming that you actually want to conference with the teachers whom you’ve observed, fill out those wonderful eval forms, meet with students, talk to parents, and just manage the day-to-day operations of the building, I think that’s a tad aggressive.

    It’s just amazing how quickly one pot-smoking kid can eat up an entire afternoon with investigations, paperwork, phone calls, statements, and the like.

    More power to ‘em, though. I’ll be curious how it works out.

  4. Mr. K | September 4, 2008 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    I’m waiting to see where it goes also. they’ve got over an hour of “supervision” duty, as well. One of the APs said that with those two requirements, they only have about 2 hours to attend to their other responsibilities.

    I suspect there may be a reshuffling of those responsibilities as those with more clout offload to make time, while also avalanching those with less clout.

    Politics can screw anything up.