Heather Wolpert-Gawron

The Inconsistency of School Administrations

By on October 17, 2009

There are just so many elements that contribute to education’s struggles, much of which many civilians never even think about. I write a lot about these elements to try to give insight from a teacher’s point of view, and to give an idea of how the consequences of these shortcomings each trickle down to chip away at student achievement.

Today’s post is about the nomadic ebb and flow of school administrators. The media talks a lot about the importance of good teachers, and I make no qualms about that necessity. But I don’t think civilians know that we are, at times, like our student populations, in parental flux with no real, consistent guidance. And that can’t be ignored.

With each new superintendent comes a new district agenda. What was important might no longer be.

With each new principal comes a new curriculum vision for the site, a different personnel preference, and varying levels of abilities to deal with teachers, parents, and students.

With each new vice-principal comes varying degrees of ability to enforce discipline or enforce academic policies.

As simplistic as this seems, the fact is that each member of a school administration has a lot to do with the learning environment and the academic habitat of a school.

I love my current district, and I love my current school, but man, it could use some consistency. My current school has had two superintendents since my hire. I had a VP who left a year after I arrived. Then the principal who hired me left in the middle of the school year two years later. An interim principal was put in place, a new principal hired. Another VP was hired, then made interim principal at an elementary school. A new one was brought in. He left. The original one came back. But now she’s just been told she’s leaving again for elementary. Now there’s a new VP coming from the district office.

Granted, sometimes an administrator wants to keep moving on and up, leaving the school and it’s children behind. But many times these school leaders are shuffled around by their own districts. And without their own tenure to help stand behind, they can’t stand up to the powers that be. shuffle

The fact is that it’s not just the students who need consistency in their life; it’s the teachers too. We need stability to get our craft together without feeling that we have to re-campaign every two to three years for support from a new administration.

We need to know the rules, and we need the rules to stay put for awhile so we can actually all make a difference together.

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  1. Sara Broers
    October 17, 2009

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    Enjoyed your post- Very true. Point proven, everyone needs consistency!

  2. Carmen
    October 17, 2009

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    I just stood up and shouted “Amen!”

  3. Carmen
    October 17, 2009

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    Seriously though, we have the same issues in my district. These problems seem to be magnified in a district that is already struggling with AYP issues, discipline issues, parental involvement issues, teacher quality issues, etc.

    It seems like just when we finally find a very, very, tiny toehold and start to make some progress, the administration (district and school level) changes. We are already battling a war on the classroom front, and then when administrative changes occur, it seems like we have to move some of the war effort to that admin. front as well. It saps time, energy, and spirit.

  4. Stillie
    October 18, 2009

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    Ditto. It’s possible that Carmen up there and I may be in the same district! LOL!

    Our district’s issues stem from the fact that everyone is fighting to get out of the classroom and become a specialist, a counselor, or something, just to get away from the actual business of teaching.

    I don’t blame them, but if I were to go back for a Master’s, it sure as hell wouldn’t have anything to do with the education industry…

  5. Bonnie
    November 4, 2009

    Leave a Reply

    Hi Heather! As a 51 year old teacher veteran with my M.Ed. in Administration, I concur with your feelings. The problems are probably too many to discuss in one post. I got my masters in the mid 90s when there was buzz about “school centered management” and principals as “transformational leaders.” Both of those ideas fell by the wayside with the state and then federal governments’ standards movements. It seems where I live (Virginia)the success of a principal is more based on political (AYP, etc.) than true educational success.

    What was quite revealing during my masters program is the huge disconnect between what the academic world sees as necessary for good leadership and the principals who are “in the trenches”. Many assistant principals are really judged as being good if they are good “guard dogs.” If that is the standard, then many of the people who agree with the principal as transformational leaders, don’t get hired in the AP position to gain experience!

    Finally, given how hard it is, both emotionally, financially, etc. it is hard to find people with the skills, abilities, and commitment needed. I loved my masters at helping me better understand all the educational nuances, but I didn’t want to become an administrator because I have two children and a busy husband. At our HS level, administrators are expected to do tons of after school activities. We in education expect our educators to sacrifice their own children for the sake of others!

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