I am basking in the luxury of a week off from teaching kindergarten for Winter Break this week. I got to sleep until 8 am this morning and it was such a treat! Today I am going to blog about another issue that I know might not be popular with all teachers. It is the issue of tenure.

In my current private school, there is no such thing as tenure. You are expected to do a good job or your contract is not renewed. My school is a K-12 private Episcopal school where parents pay a lot of money for their child's education. Mediocrity is not tolerated.

While working in the public schools, I would often hear administrators complain about ineffective teachers being protected by the local teacher's organization. What I often SAW were administrators who at times rarely observed a teacher and gave good evaluations until a problem arose. In all honesty, if they had done their jobs correctly, many situations could have been corrected and possibly avoided. I have seen situations where a principal gave a teacher glowing evaluations regularly only to learn that there were some serious problems in the classroom right before or after tenure was granted. Teachers need regular feedback and support from administrators. With our economy in its current state, it is a travesty for an incompetent teacher to hold on to a job simply because he or she has tenure. There are too many good candidates out there like Theresa at Substitute Teachers Saga who want a job.

I saw many young teachers leave the public schools for more lucrative paying jobs in the private sector. A few felt that they just weren't cut out for the profession. Many more were driven out by lack of support, too much paperwork, long unproductive staff meetings, or committee meetings where more time was spent tossing ideas around than actually implementing them.

In my current school, lesson plans must be turned in a week ahead of time. Our Principal is very visible in the classrooms and is knowledgeable about what is being taught. Teachers get lots of "warm fuzzies" regularly and are provided with help and support if they need it. The majority of my time is spent on teaching. If a staff meeting is called, it has a purpose and a specific agenda. Teachers are encouraged to attend National Conferences in order to keep current on the latest research, strategies and techniques and are given the funds to go.

During my thirty-one years in the public schools, I felt that most of my public school colleagues were hard workers who would strive to be excellent teachers. Those few that aren't should be evaluated regularly and given a plan for improvement. Consistent help and support to achieve the plan should be provided.  If a teacher still isn't successful, then they should not be able to hide behind tenure. Incompetency by a few puts a blight on the profession as a whole.

30 comments

  1. Terri // March 1, 2010 at 2:04 PM  

    Thanks for your sweet comment! :) You will love the floor cleaner... it does miracles at my house! Enjoy your winter bread and sleeping in.... you deserve a break!

  2. VKT // March 1, 2010 at 2:32 PM  

    Thanks Terri. It is always such a treat to visit your blog!

  3. Linda // March 1, 2010 at 3:18 PM  

    I have my kids in a small, cheap, Christian private school. We love and adore it. Thanks for your comment on my blog!

  4. VKT // March 1, 2010 at 3:30 PM  

    Good for you Linda and good for your children too!!!

  5. Amy // March 1, 2010 at 3:50 PM  

    We homeschool and I am evaluated every day ;o) Not nearly as difficult a job as being a teacher in a classroom full of kids, though.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog! Looking forward to reading more of your blog.

    Amy

  6. VKT // March 1, 2010 at 4:11 PM  

    Thanks Amy. Let me know if I can ever help in your homeschool journey!

    Blessings!

  7. Choices // March 1, 2010 at 5:35 PM  

    Being a sustitute teacher, I have noticed that lots of teachers in the public schools are always doing there job perfectly just to get the tenure, then they take it easy. I sub alot at a charter school(which is very much like a private school) and yes, they are evaluated everyday. If they don't do their job, they don't come back. I so agree, teachers need to be evaulated everyday and be accountable for what they do.

  8. Edie Parrott // March 1, 2010 at 5:55 PM  

    I agree with you that all teachers should be competent; however, I don't know if tenure really is the problem. I teach in an area with very little union influence, and tenure means little. What I see too much of (and that you allude to as well) is that ineffective teachers are just tolerated because administrators either don't know what they are doing, don't know what they should be doing, don't care about what they are doing, or don't have the time or the desire to work with them. I see that with teachers who have tenure as well as teachers who do not have tenure. These teachers are in the minority, but they are the teachers who make all of us look bad.

  9. Theresa Milstein // March 1, 2010 at 6:00 PM  

    Enjoy your week off. Keep sleeping in and relaxing.

    Thanks for the positive words and link to my blog. I appreciate it.

    I agree with you about new teachers often not getting enough support. At my old school, new teachers were only observed twice, until they upped it to four. But those observations are artificial. I liked one assistant principal who would just stop in and observe. Rather than the stress of a planned observation, he got to see what it was like day in and day out. Luckily, Cambridge provides a lot of training to their teachers and collaborates with Lesley University. I just have to get my foot in the door!

    While I have a lot of opinions about tenure, I don't want to take up any more comment space.

  10. VKT // March 1, 2010 at 6:07 PM  

    Thanks Choices! To be honest with you, it was a little scary having to give up tenure when I left the public schools. I am so glad I did though! I am teaching more now and pushing papers less.

  11. VKT // March 1, 2010 at 6:11 PM  

    I agree with you to a point Edie. Tenure is important in some districts and it does make it harder to dismiss incompetent teachers. I feel that it encourages some administrators to just tolerate them rather than go through the process of dismissing them.

    I couldn't agree more with your statement about administrators. Amen to that!!!!!!!!!

  12. VKT // March 1, 2010 at 6:12 PM  

    I hope you get your foot in the door soon sweet lady! I sense a fantastic teacher just waiting to set up her OWN classroom!

    Blessings!

  13. Tina // March 1, 2010 at 6:21 PM  

    You have an award waiting for you at my blog - check it out!! :)

  14. VKT // March 1, 2010 at 6:30 PM  

    Thanks Tina! I would write more but I am on my way out the door to buy some depends....kidddddding.

  15. My Lipstick Life // March 1, 2010 at 7:55 PM  

    So true and so well stated. There are so many things to lament in education these days. This is why we must celebrate eachother! Hooray for blogs :)

  16. VKT // March 1, 2010 at 8:41 PM  

    I am following both of your blogs now lipstick!

  17. Lisa // March 1, 2010 at 9:48 PM  

    Hi,
    It's nice to meet you. I wanted to stop by and say thank you for the wonderful comment that you left on my blog. (A Wii Story)
    I just got done re applying my neighbors bandage and then fed him a good meal (there are many days I really feel more of a mom to him than a neighbor, but we love him as if he was)
    I didn't get much sleep but I am not stressing as much.
    Walk It Out is also a Wii game...it's actually my favorite one. I will post a new blog entry with more info on this game. The wii, out of all the varias exercise equipments I have bought over the years.....is by far the best investment I have made.

    Anyways, I'm rambling, lol....take care and i look forward to reading more of your blog

    Lisa
    http://awiistory.blogspot.com

  18. VKT // March 1, 2010 at 9:59 PM  

    Thanks so much Lisa!

  19. Missy // March 1, 2010 at 10:16 PM  

    Thank you for your great idea about complete silence. I was going to say that you sound like a Montessori teacher (where my kids go), but I see from this post you are a private school teacher. Following you now, by the way. Love the site. :)

  20. VKT // March 1, 2010 at 10:21 PM  

    Thanks so much Missy!

  21. mie // March 1, 2010 at 11:25 PM  

    to VKT, I'm not a teacher yet, will be taking national licensure exam this year for teachers but am going to teach college students am scared to teach the young ones, hopefully I'll be a good teacher like you are!!

  22. Marla // March 1, 2010 at 11:33 PM  

    Your school sounds wonderful!

  23. VKT // March 2, 2010 at 8:11 AM  

    Mie,

    You will be a terrific teacher! I would be scared to teach college students...lol

  24. VKT // March 2, 2010 at 8:11 AM  

    It is a wonderful place Marla, truly!

  25. Joanne // March 2, 2010 at 8:59 AM  

    Interesting views on tenure here. I think your last sentence can apply to almost any occupation. All it takes are a few incidents to shine incompetence on an entire field.

    Enjoy your break!

  26. ellen // March 2, 2010 at 10:29 AM  

    I agree with Joanne, this subject can apply to any occupation. But, a teacher has the care for children, so it is good you brought this subject up in your blog!

    Have a nice break!!

  27. VKT // March 2, 2010 at 12:16 PM  

    Good point Joanne!

  28. VKT // March 2, 2010 at 12:18 PM  

    You hit the nail on the head Ellen. It does bother me when a child "loses" a year when they get an incompetent teacher. Unfortunately, like Joanne said, it can be found in any profession.

  29. Rene W. // March 3, 2010 at 2:37 PM  

    Great points! I hope you are enjoying a well deserved break :)

  30. VKT // March 3, 2010 at 4:29 PM  

    Thanks Rene! I really am!