Monday, April 20, 2009

School Climate Surveys... does my opinion really count?

Every year, our district asks us (the school board employees) for our opinion. I am not sure how much of our opinion really matters, but I don't mean that the school district ignores our pleas. What I mean is that I don't think ANY opinion really matters that much, unless you are a registered voter and are voting in an election.

And even then, if it is a presidential election, you really aren't actually voting for the candidate, but rather someone to cast THEIR vote for the candidate.

Anyways, these climate surveys are touted to matter. We are told the union uses our comments as ammunition against schools, principals or district policies. It's not that I don't believe the union, because I am a member of the union, although there are times I question my membership due to the other individuals who are also enrolled.

I think unions are valuable. I think there should be a system in place to protect teachers, but I think that unions should protect "good" teachers. The reason I question my membership from time to time is because the union also protects bad teachers.

Seriously, I could sit at my desk, have students do only worksheets or textbook work, never stay more than 30 min after school and do a sub-mediocre job, and I would still get paid the same salary as the individual who spends their weekends grading, planning and researching ideas for their kids to work on for the following week. There are times where I wish I could be those type of teachers, because my job would be a whole lot easier.

But the truth is, I can't be one of "those" teachers. I would be miserable. Kids deserve better than that.

So back to the climate surveys. This is my 5th year, and I was brutally honest. I listed specific people on our campus who I felt deserved to be recognized as one of our school's strengths. I also reported that I was glad that I have the type of relationship with my principal that allows me to speak the truth and tell him what I think, but whether he takes my thoughts into consideration when making decisions is HIS job and once I pass on my thoughts, it is no longer up to me. I just have to hope (and trust) that he makes the best decision(s) for our school based on what is best for our children.

Which is something I think a lot of people have lost site of: what is best for students. This job wasn't meant to be easy. If you don't like the way the school is run, go find another school or better yet, become a principal yourself and see if you can do it better. I believe there are a lot of "things" that go on behind the scenes that we as teachers are unaware of, reasons that determine a principal's next move.

Regardless, I am not sure if my climate survey is truly taken into account or is taken seriously or is even looked at. I don't care if it or if it isn't. That isn't my job to worry about such things and I can't waste my time or energy on something that is beyond my control.

An athletic director used to ride my ass about the way I was coaching volleyball, until I told her one day that I was offered a job at a different school. I also told the administration it was because of our difference in coaching philosophy. What I really wanted to tell her was, "If you think you can do so much better, my position can suddenly become available." Me arguing with her wasn't going to change anything, all I could change was where I would coach. I think she got the message though when I left and never looked back.

So my point is, you can't worry about things you can't control. All you can change is YOU.