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.