One of the most recent silver bullets in education has been for there to be coaches on our campuses for teachers. The coach’s job, of course, is to work with teachers to refine practice or to try new teaching methodologies. Theoretically, this would involve a lot of trust building and collaboration.
Unfortunately, in educational practice what should be often never is. I’ve found that these positions often end up with the coaches being the principal’s minions. Trust isn’t something built. Instead there is a feeling that the principal is using the coach to spy on the teach, gather intelligence, and use it against the teacher. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t quite seem like the kind of action that changes schools for the better.
The other thing about coaches is that they don’t work with kids. At all. They work with adults. Now, there are coaches who think this idea is rubbish and discard it. However, a lot of them go in acting like managers and do precious little that’s valuable to work towards improvement. I mean, truly, sometimes you have to SEE it in action.
One idea that I presented to both my union and the superintendent, that has NEVER been addressed and probably WILL NEVER see the light of day, is that EVERY credentialed teacher in the district MUST work with kids. In fact, they should be in classrooms or working one-on-one or small group at least 300 hours a year, AND their evaluations will be based on their classroom/student performance.
Yes, this is radical. However, it serves many purposes. First, it keeps a large portion of the major stakeholders tied to the classrooms and the schools. They would know and see firsthand issues. It would keep their skills current, forcing them to practice and refine new procedures. It would also allow for classroom teachers, if these people were in charges of release classes (art, music, technology, library, languages, etc.) time to observe, work collaboratively, refresh for an extended day, or prep for their own classes. Since we are already paying these people, there would be no need to hire additional teachers for these positions.
I know. I’m an idealistic idiot. No one who has gotten out of the classroom and is in a management position is going to go back. You know why? It’s hard. THEY know it’s hard. It’s demanding. THEY KNOW IT’S DEMANDING. It would involve opening them up to parent complaints, issues about their teaching skills, and perhaps even questions about their participation in test scores. Truthfully, WHY would they want to go back and face all that?
Yet, if we have anyone in the district who is actively avoiding the classroom, shouldn’t that be reason enough for elimination? Think about it.
Then go to your school board and actively call for this action. After all, we already PAY for these people. Why shouldn’t they be part of the teaching solution?