I am not sure I am the right one to bring this up,in fact, I am not sure it is my place to start this conversation. Yet, this blog has offered me a voice that not all teachers have, a place to start a public discussion that is needed. That doesn’t mean I am the best one to bring it up, but here goes nothing.
There has always been a divide between administration and teachers it seems. From the poor jokes about going to the dark side to the hushed conversations behind closed doors discussing the latest admin “screw up,” it seems that there is an invisible mountain between teachers and administration that both sides don’t understand the origin of. It is not that anyone wants to think of the other as being on another side and yet it crops up in conversation time and time again. But I am starting to wonder why we all seem to be okay with it. It seems to just be an accepted fact when I don’t think it should be. After all, are we not all trying to educate the same children?
So what is it that is creating it, and more importantly what can we do? Because I hear over and over that teachers don’t think their administration will believe in whatever idea they have, or their administration won’t give them permission, and I am always left wondering if this really is true. Do they really know that or is it just an assumption? In fact, how often do we assume what someone else may say or think and thus feel defeated? How often do we blame our administrators for something when we don’t know if it is really their fault? How often does our own fear of having a courageous conversation create unintended barriers?
Perhaps the divide has to to do with trust. While I believe almost all administrators trust their staff, I wonder how often that is explicitly communicated. Not just in words but in actions. I wonder how many times trust is assumed rather than discussed, how many times both sides assume that the other know their intentions. What if we decided that the other side couldn’t read our minds and instead started asking questions? What if we were told that administration trusted us in both words and action, would that break the divide? What if teachers started to tell their administrators that they trusted them, what would that do?
What if we gave second chances? What if we, every day, gave each other a new chance at doing what is best? What if we actively tried to create a community of educators just like we work on it with our students? What then?
I don’t know what the answer is. I am not an administrator, just a teacher who wants to find a solution. So dear administrators and other educators reading this, what do you think? How do we tear down the great divide? What can I tell all those teachers who feel like their administration will never trust them? Who feel like their administration will never understand what they do, what they are trying to do, and who feel no one has their back? Because I don’t think it’s true but maybe I am wrong, I have been wrong so many times before.
PS: I am absolutely loving all of the great conversations that are happening due to this post. Here are a few responses to the post on other blogs.
And Brandon Blom here
I am a passionate teacher in Oregon, Wisconsin, USA but originally from Denmark, who has taught 4th, 5th, and 7th grade. Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. The second edition of my first book “Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students” is available for pre-order now. Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” is out now from Corwin Press. Join our Passionate Learners community on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.