Year: 1997-1998
Month: December
Leader: Group J

Situation/Case Study:
TEACHER ROLE/RESPONSIBILITY

Description:
What can teachers do when they feel powerless, when they are not part of decisions regarding discipline issues, best educational practices, etc.? The frustration is especially critical regarding how the staffing of the new school will be decided. Students are over hearing teachers express their refusals to be moved to the eighth/ninth grade setting. What impact is this atmosphere making on the students? What must the eighth graders feel like knowing that the teachers don't want to move with them and work with them? What is the impact on teacher morale when they feel they will be forced into assignments they had no voice in?

Hypotheses:
Teachers are feeling powerless, helpless, angry, threatened, uncertain, unappreciated, stifled, not allowed creativity & flexibility, lost, left in the dark, not sure about job next year. Teachers are fearful of what the new school will be like, what will be the priorities for academics, behavior, attendance, etc., when there is so much discrepancy now on these issues and teachers are not supported by administration. "I am feeling undereducated in expressing concerns positively and professionally." "My loyalty is sorely tried when I feel betrayed by administration." If they do ask for input it is ignored, as if they never heard the teacher's voice.

Theories behind practice:


Impact on others:


Solutions:
Teachers should focus on the smaller issues that they can change. Teachers need to join together to create a more powerful number when they try to express how they wish to be part of the process. Teachers should request training on how to form a "voice" of teacher leadership. Keep the kids in mind! Try to find a silver thread! Pump each other up, get off the small details we can't control & focus on just what we can. Challenge administration to involve staff in rationale for changes as well as discuss with the staff the ramifications for each change. Emphasize the need to have positive, energizing focus. Value teacher input. Don't wait to be asked for input, find a way to get involved. Find a way to get ideas to administrators.

Comments:
The group was very disturbed, frustrated and needed each other’s support discussing the issues of staffing. The continued experience of not being heard, not even being asked for input, yet expected to maintain high morale, be supportive of administration and be a quality educator in front of the students is overwhelming many of the staff. When challenged by the facilitator how this topic related to “best practices” they were very articulate about how it related. The discussion was very sincere, positive and productive. Teachers were seeking professional, positive ways to confront the growing antagonism among the staff. This group did not want to just complain and be negative. They were willing to take action, but were unsure what action was available to them. I respected their focus and their desired goals. At the conclusion of the discussion the decision was made to send to the administrators the notes of this meeting. A copy of the duplicate form on which each member wrote hypothesis and solutions was to be duplicated and forwarded to the administration. The meeting lasted longer but broke down when two mentors had to leave for other meetings. I feel the mentors are not giving appropriate example for the first year teachers. I feel helpless when their excuses for leaving early are a union meeting or some other intervention meeting.