Effortless English Archives

Automatic English For The People

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


by AJ

From Kathy Sierra

Management matters! As much as Id like to ignore all administrators, reality dictates that I cannot. The simple truth is, bad management can easily destroy good teaching. In fact, Id say this is the norm. Most bad schools (and most are indeed bad) are bad not because of their teachers, but because of their management. Its the management that destroys enthusiasm. Its management that crushes innovation. Its management that drives out great teachers. Its management that fosters burnout.

Most (not all) teachers want to do a good job. Many begin their jobs full of energy. Most care about their students, at least to some degree. Given support, encouragement,.... and good management, they will thrive.

But, unfortunately, most school managers are firmly stuck in the Manager 1.0 mode outlined by Sierra. Most managers dictate decisions, rather than arrive at them WITH teachers. Most managers keep information from teachers... rare is the school that shares revenue info, marketing strategy, and other organizational "secrets". Most school managers approach can be summed up with the phrase "responsibility without authority". Thats the position most teachers find themselves in. I consider it the job equivalent of "taxation without representation"... and an equally good cause for revolution.

Teachers are responisble for doing a great job. They are responsible for helping students learn... and for improving their performance. But they dont have the authority to do what needs to be done. They cant make curriculum decisions. They cant change policies. They must constantly ask permission to make changes.

Thats a very stressful position to be in. No wonder burnout is high. No wonder turnover is high. No wonder the public schools are so strongly unionized.

All of this is of more than academic interest to me, as I plan to open my own school some day. When I do, I plan to point my school's teachers to this blog, and these words.... so that, if I become a controlling dickhead, they can throw them back in my face!

My idea of good management agrees with Sierra's:

*Catch them doing something RIGHT!
*Dont try to control people... UNLEASH THEM!
*Profit sharing. When things are good, share the wealth with those who are doing the work.
*Emphasis on community; but individuals given autonomy, responsibility, AND authority.
*Peer review, community brainstorming and decision making.
*Hire passionate, curious, constant learners... not degrees or "qualifications".
*Recruit top talent, like a GM for a professional sports team.
*Cut loose burnouts, clock punchers, and devils advocates... whatever their "qualifications".
*Draw students into management and management decisions.

San Francisco, CA