Education Week - Calendar of Events & Professional Development Directory - Spring 2013 - (Page C6)

FOCUS ON: LEADERSHIP PERSPECTIVE Teacher Satisfaction: A Matter of Principal Rita Raichoudhuri, a resident principal in Chicago, reviews paperwork with her mentor principal, Ernesto Matias. I almost quit teaching five years ago, but I’m so glad I didn’t. I won’t indulge you with all the gory details here, but suffice it to say that my principal was a bit like Steve Carell’s character on the NBC show “The Office.” One day, I finally just broke down during a grade-level cluster meeting. I had given up breast-feeding my infant because there was no consistent time available in the school day for me to pump. My administrators had recently cut a teaching position, leaving me with 33 3rd grade students in my class while my 2nd grade colleagues had only 12 to 14. The final straw came when my 30-year-old male principal lectured the all-female primary teachers in the meeting, expressly forbidding us to speak. I just couldn’t take it anymore. “I hate my job!” I shouted amid tears. He later told me privately, “It’s like you wanted me to fire you.” Strange things happen in schools in terms of communication. Teachers and administrators are often speaking different languages. Teachers who are crying out for support and a voice often get a version of this from administrators: “If you’re not happy, you can leave.” I know that retaining good teachers is vital to any long-term education improvement strategy, but I have a hard time believing it’s a true priority for most schools and districts. The main people sounding the alarm on this issue besides teachers seem to be education researchers, who are essentially powerless to implement changes. From my experience, and based on what I hear from other teachers, the prevailing sentiment among school leaders seems to be that good teachers aren’t really that hard to find—schools can pick from a long unemployment line. But when throngs of teachers are leaving a school year after year, the principal should come under high scrutiny. Hardworking teachers are not tools that should be discarded and replaced once they’ve gotten old or a little banged up. We are professionals who need to be supported, developed, and valued. We deserve opportunities to grow in our careers. And administrators need to understand that every good teacher who leaves significantly weakens the school’s instructional program and sense of community. By the same token, there is nothing wrong with good teachers leaving the classroom to pursue other ambitions and opportunities. CONTINUED FROM PAGE 6 Putting Principal Training in Context CONTINUED FROM PAGE 5 Mathis Vanessa Solis studies at the university and the coordinator of its urban education leadership program. “The right place to develop capacity was in the most challenging schools.” When the joy of teaching fades or when a teacher is distracted by a desire to make a broader impact, it may be time for him or her to walk away without regrets. Staying may actually have adverse effects. Besides, many teachers today are not the kind of people whose professional goals include staying at the same school or in the exact same position for 30 years (though there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that, either). Still, poor school leadership is one sure-fire way to end teaching careers prematurely and destabilize schools. Having a strong yet collaborative principal, however, can motivate teachers to stay in the classroom longer than they ever thought they would. I should know: I have an amazing principal now, and I’m in my fifth year of not wanting to quit every day. n MARILYN RHAMES is a middle-grades teacher at a charter school in Chicago and runs a nonprofit called Teachers Who Pray. She is the author of the Education Week Teacher blog Charting My Own Course. This piece originally appeared in Teacher’s online forum Teaching Ahead: A Roundtable. 6 Greg Ruffing for Education Week By Marilyn Rhames Sharing Knowledge Rituparna “Rita” Raichoudhuri, a resident principal at Wells High School in Chicago and a member of the program’s 10th cohort, says her residency has been helpful. “The biggest learning here has been really learning the day-today operations of the school, different things that happen in a day with students and parents,” she says. “I work hand in hand with the principal. I’m doing everything he’s doing; I’m in every meeting he’s in.” Her mentor principal had been in an earlier cohort in the same program. The University of Illinois program is one of four that are part of the Chicago public schools’ Chicago Leadership Collaborative, through which the district is trying to bring in more principals with internship or residency experiences and whose education has been tied to a set of “principal competencies” outlined by the district. At Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., the college of education began focusing on coordinating its Education WEEk 2 0 1 3 CA LENDA R O F EV EN T S & P ROFESSIONAL DEVELOP MENT DIRECT ORY program with the nearby Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C., school system, and now does the same for a number of smaller districts in South Carolina, says Mark W. Mitchell, the program director for education leadership at the university. “The things you teach are more relevant when you can sit down and talk with your students about what’s actually happening in their “ The right place to develop capacity was in the most challenging schools.” STEVEN TOZER Coordinator Urban Education Leadership Program University of Illinois at Chicago district,” says Mitchell, who was a principal before he came to Winthrop. “We have to become much more cognizant of how important it is for us to stay current with what’s happening in the public schools.” The collaboration with the 141,000-student Charlotte-Meck- lenburg system, which now receives funding from the Wallace Foundation, began in 2004, when Mitchell and another former school administrator arrived at the university and set a goal of building a relationship between the district and the university. Tying universities’ programs more tightly to districts also has the benefit of allowing districts and programs to track their effectiveness, says King of the Education Development Center. The Chicago program has produced 83 principals in the city’s public schools so far. Tozer says that schools headed by graduates of the program are more than twice as likely to close achievement gaps between students of different racial and ethnic backgrounds. “We’ve known for 35 years that a really good principal could transform student-learning outcomes in a very bad school—but we have acted as if such principals were born and not made,” says Paul Zavitkovsky, a former principal who now coaches aspiring leaders through the Chicago program. “We have to create the organizational structures,” he says, “to take advantage of principals who have succeeded to help pass on to the next generation what they’ve learned.” This article originally appeared, in a different form, in Education Week.

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - Calendar of Events & Professional Development Directory - Spring 2013

Education Week - Calendar of Events & Professional Development Directory - Spring 2013
Principal Development Goes Back to School
National Teacher of the Year: Educators Need Career Paths
Creating a School Culture That Is Collaborative
Teacher Satisfaction: A Matter of Principal
Lessons From Reality TV on Supporting Teachers
2013 Calendar of Events
Sponsors of Events
Subject Index
Directory Table of Contents
Directory Index
Directory Listings

Education Week - Calendar of Events & Professional Development Directory - Spring 2013