Reflecting on “Overwhelmed After 13 Years”: The Effects of Poor Administration

We have received such an outpouring of support as a result of our first Teacher TRUTH! Mostly, teachers identified with the teacher who wrote “Overwhelmed After 13 Years.” We have heard from teachers who have been in the classroom for 25+ years lamenting that they, too, feel the same way this year… or have been feeling the same way for the past several. We have heard from teachers who say they wish they could share their TRUTH, too, but just can’t find the time – which is exactly the sad TRUTH behind “Overwhelmed.”

I had a different takeaway from the submission, though. I became frustrated and angry the more that I read it. Instead of saying, “I really felt that way, too,” I said, “AAAAAAHHHHHHH! Why this paperwork is big by Ashley Fisherdoes it have to be this way?”

As if all of the assessments and standards and new curriculum weren’t enough, now the administrators are piling on unnecessary, poorly planned (at least at the secondary level, where teachers already have received two different lesson plan templates), and required paperwork for their teachers. Shouldn’t the administrators want to help their teachers wade through all of the “more” instead of being the ones who are responsible for adding MORE?

But, I know the district in which “Overwhelmed” teaches. I know that when questions about assessments are asked, when questions about scope and sequence and curriculum are asked, administrators get defensive and react, oftentimes, unfairly. It is not uncommon in that district for teachers who ask questions or raise concerns to be observed several times a week. It is not uncommon for teachers in that district who try to teach in such a way that they know is right for kids to be given more duties.

And, it certainly seems that the new elementary lesson plan is nothing more than an act of retaliation against a group of dedicated elementary teachers who got together last school year on their own time to research and share resources to ultimately find a solution to all of the district’s assessments and lack of curriculum and then had to beg to be a part of the decision-making process. I was in attendance at a school board meeting last spring when the board president himself stated that teachers don’t want to take the time to help write curriculum. HA!

I also know that the majority of the supporters of “Overwhelmed” responded to us through email, rather than sharing the Teacher TRUTH on Facebook or commenting on the TRUTH In Teaching website because of these sorts of repercussions that are being dealt out by administrators. We’ve also been hearing from teachers who are reading our material and signing up for our newsletter but are hesitant to get involved with the site or on social media due to the same fears.

These facts alone should be enough to get you involved in sharing your TRUTH with everyone. Don’t forget: Teacher TRUTHS may be submitted completely anonymously, as “Overwhelmed After 13 Years” was. Your voices will help shed light on what’s really happening inside your classrooms and what you really are facing each day as a teacher during these times.

It’s a shame that this we vs. they climate exists in a district that could be so much better. So many teachers are feeling overwhelmed and inundated with MORE, when they should be feeling energized and excited for a new year with new faces before them. This is an administration problem. But, the teachers are faced once again with “making it work.” It’s time for all of the teachers who are feeling overwhelmed to stand together. Show the administration it’s not going to work this time. Show them that you can be professionals who do your jobs without handing in a 17-page manifesto each week. Show them that you are capable of doing your jobs well without the burdens of their paperwork.

At this point, you need to stand up for yourselves. A change won’t happen until people realize just how much a drastic change is needed. Email Bailey at bailey@truthinteaching.com or Angela at angela@truthinteaching.com to help by sharing your TRUTH.

Image via Flickr by Ashley Fisher

One thought on “Reflecting on “Overwhelmed After 13 Years”: The Effects of Poor Administration

  1. Kathy Gephart

    I could not agree more with so many truths in your words. I have always taught with this as one of my guiding principles – when there is a decision to make, make it in the best interest of kids. I have had discussions with some of my administrators (before retiring) and they echoed their strong agreement. Yet, every single thing that has happened recently is no where near best for kids.

    In my role now as a teacher of graduate courses for teachers, I have seen what actions like the 17 page lesson plan are doing to instruction. Oh wait, it’s not doing that much to instruction, as the teachers I know are amazing. But if we think of the school year as a marathon, everyone can start running at the beginning, but sooner or later, carrying too much weight will slow us and perhaps even make us leave the race. Our teachers, the most important factor in the classroom, are being expected to follow and unnecessarily burdened with tasks that do not help improve their instruction, but rather keep them from doing all that they can do to best meet the needs of their students.

    Whether the administration is deliberately vindictive or not, the fact that this is the perception both inside and outside of the school walls, is a problem all in itself. Where are teachers to turn? We are told that teachers are to be the ‘guides on the side’ and not the ‘sage on the stage.’ These administrators are not only not guides on the side, but act as though they are not even on the side of the teachers.

    It doesn’t have to be this way. In my job, I have the pleasure of working in many different school districts, some local. One of those districts, just a county away, has a curriculum coordinator who actually co-taught a lesson with one of the middle school teachers to try out some of what he and his teachers were learning in a professional development class. They have hired me as a coach to help them implement a new writing program that was chosen with the input of the teachers. When I arrive at their classrooms, these teachers are excited to see me and appreciate the support that their district is providing. My delightfully positive experiences have reminded me of the way it is supposed to be!

    What is to be done? There must be changes made and it must start with the administration and this is the time that we need our school board members to do their jobs and get to the bottom of what is happening in the district we love. There must be a change in the culture of our district, and given the attitude and actions of the current administration, that will not happen. By the way, I do not fault the building principals for they are just as much victims as the teachers.

    I appreciate TRUTH and hope that others will continue to use it as a vehicle for raising whispering voices and uncovering what is being hidden. I am proud to have been a teacher in the community that I grew up in and I will not go away quietly. Join me!!

    Reply

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