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I work in a large urban district in Ohio. I have worked in high performance schools as well as in low performance schools. I have worked under most sanctions from the state and federal levels. I have also been an administrator in a few of these schools. I have had to require teachers to implement initiatives which they were against. Now I am retired and working as a long term sub in a magnet high school. High performing, no real stress to implement new instructional strategies just to do some things required by the district. However, it is a magnet Montessori school so the curriculum and instruction is very specific to the program and the students are screened through an interview process, their past discipline record is considered, and references are needed before they are "invited" to enroll. So, of course the problems most schools have are not there. Such luxury is not afforded to the neighborhood schools who have very different clienteles.

There are times when teachers are asked to do things they believe not to be in the best interest of the students' learning. There are also times when teachers are asked to implement curriculum they are not familiar with, strategies they are not comfortable with, without needed materials to implement it effectively, or with little or no support from colleagues, administration, or families. I for one was always the teacher who believed what was being asked may not have been in the best interest of my students so I would go against the grain and refuse to follow what I was being told to do. I didn't lose my job and I was told a "letter" would have to go into my files. Since my file was clean, this would be a first. I also was quite naive of the whole reprimand process so in this case ignorance was bliss and I stood by my beliefs and refused to do it the way I was being told. Turned out I was not the only one because several weeks later it came down that some of the initiatives were made flexible enough for us to custom fit to our classes. 

Although I have a strong belief in my knowledge and ability to deliver curriculum effectively, I also know it takes a lot of courage to stand up to the system. I didn't necessarily have that courage. Mine was more just thinking I knew what was best for my students then the district or some company did and since I was there for them I was going to protect them from programs or activities which were not going to effectively promote their learning. At that time there were no accountability sanctions. The State and Federal Governments were not necessarily breathing down our necks to make sure we were meeting targets. The district had a merit system for achieving schools and although there is always the chance of losing one's job due to incompetence, the union was far too strong to let that happen. So I wasn't functioning under the same climate of accountability as schools are today. It was much easier to go against the grain and do what you felt was necessary to meet the needs of your students. 

But today, in the here and now, sanctions are very real. Turnaround programs which remove teachers and principals have become the norm and there is a very real chance of job loss if student performance isn't met. Students need to come first. But those who spend 6 to 7 hours a day with them need to also have their needs met. The stress of not knowing how to implement new strategies or not having support beyond the training of these strategies takes a toll. For a principal, trying to make sure every teacher is implementing these new, mandated strategies while also trying to balance community affairs and manage the climate in the building has always been a challenge but now there is this threat of being removed if he or she is not successful.

Many schools lack materials and resources to implement. They may receive training and instructional coaches or grants to help them implement but to talk to these teachers, it isn't enough. There is something missing. In talking to some teachers, time is an issue. Time to learn and ingrain the procedures, strategies, and new paradigms, time to look at data and problem solve effectively, and time to come back and discuss individual students and their needs. Time for principals to actually turn a school around to make it high performing. But is this all? Is there something else you as teachers and principals believe should be taking place to help in this effort to educate all students?

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Hi Teresa...Happy Mommy's Day to you {and even if you're not a biological Mom, you're definitely a spiritual one!}.  I can sense from the tone of your message that you're on the brink of true-revelation.  Because the questions you're asking in Ohio are the very same questions we are asking in DC.  And I'm sure many other locations within our Nation with Urban corridors are making similar inquiries.  As a matter of fact - these same questions prompted me to enroll in a MOOC via Coursera.com; titled Coaching Teachers: Promoting Changes That Stick. I've enclosed the link below for you to explore further if you're interested.  It just started yesterday, and already I'm impressed.  Now; I'm not sure how it measures up with regards to 'prime-time' academics. For my perspective arrives from a different angle...from where I stand...it's invaluable insight.  Mainly; I teach on the subjects and fundamentals of the novice Urban Mentor-Leader {so I can freely educate w/o the strain and limitation of the System}.  But I wanted to learn from the challenges that Urban Teachers are faced with because most of my mentor-students deal with Urban Teachers on a daily basis.  It's beneficial for me to be familiar with the language and the environment.  Essentially we're all Educators.  With all sorts of Students {regardless of demographics} that depend on us to guide them into new heights-of-knowledge and teach them to effective-interpret the vast languages of Love-&-Life for themselves; as they'll surely need such elements while maneuvering thru the upcoming phases of their lives. 

I have a few ideas I'd like to run pass you. One being the contents within these books; (1) The Principal's Companion {3rd ed.} by Pam Robbins and Harvey B. Alvy, (2) Dealing with Difficult Teachers {2nd ed.} by Todd Whitaker... I've been seeking an Urban SchoolHouse Administrator to chat with me for almost a year now...no one seems all that interested.  We must intervene before we lose all of our educational-momentum at the likes of system-supporters and social/teacher-disadvantages. 

Is it possible for us to chat?...maybe some of the answers in-which we seek are hidden in our conversation(s).  Oh, here's the link for the MOOC https://www.coursera.org/course/coachingteachers ... cheers!

I would be happy to chat with you. I am actually doing research which involves hearing from urban teachers and administrators in hope of revealing what they believe is still needed to improve instruction for urban children. In all the reform which is imposed on schools for the sake of improvement, very little improve is actually taking place and the little which may be taking place isn't sustainable.

And I understand the issue of finding Urban administrators or teachers who are interested these types of discussions or participate in these type of professional sites. It appears teachers from other countries have an interest but not our own. Sad. 

Thank you for the recommended books and the website. I look forward to chatting with you. If you would like a specific time or day please let me know.

Teresa

Hi Teresa...Happy Wednesday to ya!  You're very welcome...my pleasure.  Yes, can we look-forward to mid-next-week?  Anytime Tuesday-Thursday 10AM-3PM is ideal for me.  In the meantime, take a look-@-this...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iG9CE55wbtY&list=PL70DEC2B0568B5...

I'll inbox you my info...I'm excited!!

Thank you Thea. I have also downloaded the books you recommended onto my Kindle. What I am reading so far is exactly what I am advocating. 

Next week between 10 and 3 should work. Thank you also for the youtube link.

I guess it would have helped if I suggested an exact time between 10 :00 and 3:00! LOL! My best times within that time block are either 1:00 or 2:15 and really any of those days. Let's say Tuesday of next week?

If you need an earlier time let me know. 

Thanks,

Teresa

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