Monday, January 28, 2019

Teaching/Learning Support: Policing or Supporting

In schools today we often see a divide between those who police teachers and those that coach teachers. People who police teachers are always reminding them of the expectations, deadlines, and have-to's--like a policeman who directs traffic, those who police teachers are focused on making sure that teachers do what they're told. As you might imagine, there is little camaraderie with these kind of teacher leaders. People tend to avoid them rather than work with them.

Then there are those who well support teachers. These teacher leaders are always working with teachers to put teacher/students' needs and interests at the front of their work. These teacher leaders help teachers by thinking ahead to help educators attend worthy professional learning events, order helpful materials, get a break to do more planning, and work together to continually evolve the program in ways that matter.

I have found that leaders that police are often educators who spend little time with students--these policing leaders have often lost sight of what it means to teach day-to-day and what children are like. Without regular responsibility for student learning and engagement, it's easy for teacher leaders to take a robot-like attitude and affect on educators--they see teachers as do-its, not the dedicated, invested professionals that they are.

Alternately, I've noticed that leaders who continue to work with students on a regular basis, have a greater understanding of what it takes to do the job well. These leaders' regular day-to-day work with students makes them empathetic and knowing of educators' challenges, potential, and needs. These teacher leaders appear to be better able to support educators in meaningful and helpful ways.

As we look carefully at school structure, we have to think deeply about the kinds of roles that make up that structure. In my opinion, we want to minimize policing and elevate support. Of course some oversight is needed for schools, but in general, if most educators in a building are working with students and coaching one another, I believe we will have stronger, more supportive student-friendly learning/teaching communities. Do you agree?