Teachers need leaders in tough times
To the Editor:
In the June Heights Observer, Ari Klein (“We must retain and attract school district employees”) and Susie Kaeser (“Intrinsic motivation, not accountability, produces excellence”) spoke to difficulties facing teachers. While I am inclined to their perspective, the helpless tone was discouraging to me.
Both articles concerned themselves with a portrayal of what is happening to teachers as though they were unwilling or unable to do anything to influence their own future. The authors wrote from the perspective “this is what is happening to us,” as though constraints and requirements fully explained teachers’ effectiveness in the classroom, and determined their satisfaction with work.
By omission, the authors implied that teachers either cannot or will not work to influence outcomes in the classroom, and that they have little responsibility for results.
I don’t think that is true. I know elementary, middle and high school teachers. They impress me as exceptionally bright, committed and hard working. I hear them talk about creativity, developing strategies to overcome obstacles, and their personal investment—emotional and financial—in achieving the best for their students. Yet the authors mention none of this, opting to evoke sympathy for poor souls.
Leaders who lead by complaining in the name of the people they serve do them a great injustice. Education is not the only industry that carries the weight of external forces that impose constraints and requirements, some of which are insane. Yet one can find organizations in such industries that flourish above the norm, with people storming the gates to get in to them.
Your job is to lead teachers to greatness, not to bemoan the present and rail against the machine. You may be doing that, but your articles were absent any news on that front.