Another blog request has rolled into the email inbox.
Counting this one, I'm up to at least two (could be more, but I doubt it).
A loyal reader (and anyone who wades through more than one of these blogs has to be considered loyal) has asked how to keep great new teachers positive and free from the negative tainting of veteran teachers?
Let's be honest. Tainting is their word, not mine (don't ask me why, but it just seems wrong). And if I knew the answer to this dilemma (or riddle) I wouldn't be posting it for free on a blog.
Can anyone say book deal? This is America, so I might as well make a little money off other school administrators' problems (have you ever noticed we all have the same 10 problems?).
But I don't really want to write (?) a book for two reasons: One, nobody has asked (surprise, surprise) and two, because it would be an insult to everyone who actually knows how to use an adverb.
Since a book deal doesn't seem imminent (and by imminent I mean ever), I'm going to throw my two cents in for free just this once (this is blog #450 so once comes relatively often).
See if you recognize this situation: New teacher is hired. New teacher is excited. New teacher arrives at school early and stays late. New teacher is upbeat and positive. New teacher's room is next door to a teacher who's not quite as excited, arrives right on time and leaves the second they can, and can't be considered either upbeat nor positive. Plus new teacher makes the rookie mistake of eating lunch in the lounge (Noooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!).
What happens next?
New teacher gets less excited, is told he or she doesn't have to arrive early and stay late, and gets less and less positive. If it's happened once, it's happened 8.73456 billion times (guesstimate, but I'm close). What should an administrator do?
Actually, I'm hoping someone will tell me (after all I'm not just here to babble... I'm also here to learn). My suggestion, until someone smartens me up, is proximity and reward. Separate your good staff from bad. Sometimes this is easier said than done, but it's worth a try. If an upbeat teacher (not necessarily new) is drug down by a less than upbeat teacher (not necessarily old or veteran) there's plenty of blame to go around.
And some of this blame should land directly on the administration's desk.
A teaching staff has something in common with real estate: location, location, location. While you can't control attitudes, you can control where these attitudes go to thrive or die. There's no exact science here, it's mostly trial and error (Welcome to Education).
Put great attitudes by bad attitudes. Put great attitudes by great attitudes. Mix them up. Move them around. Draw names out of a hat. Try anything (kids are worth it).
Teachers (and administrators) are hired to work in a school district. They aren't hired to work in a particular building or specific room. Nothing says one teacher gets to stay in the same classroom for 40 years (it's not "theirs"... it's the kids').
Call the moving van (or custodian) and rearrange your attitudes.Don't let one part of your staff dictate the mood of a building.
Another thing worth trying is rewards. Overwhelm your positive staff members. Give them the nicest room, more technology, cool erasers, good parking, candy, or something as simple as a compliment. Everyone wants to be recognized as being good at their jobs. And nothing improves attitudes like free stuff.
This blog could have been titled Administratortudes, Principaltudes, or Pretty Much Any Peopletudes.