Thursday, June 23, 2016
Early on I worked with an AP who had an odd management style. He would call me into his office and show me people's files. He would tell me they did this, that, and the other thing and try to elicit my sympathy. It was pretty odd, because my job was representing these people, I knew it, and I wasn't going to stop doing it just because of something I saw in a file.
I would get called into his office, he would close the door, and we would get into these circular discussions. He had a very hard time dealing with my repeated failures to accept his point of view. He would refer to me as administration, which was bizarre. I can only suppose by doing that he thought I'd be flattered and go along with whatever nonsense he saw fit to enact. Our meetings would often end with him screaming about something or other. I would excuse myself and walk away.
On one day, he decided that teachers in my school ought to start clocking in. I told him that was unacceptable, as I actually recalled when we stopped doing so, and knew that it wasn't simply because every administrator decided to be kind and forgo the whole clock thing. I called my DR, who found me a copy of the regulation, from sometime in the 80s, that declared schools would set a policy to preclude teachers having to clock in. It said that schools would negotiate a policy.
The AP got an idea. He asked me how I knew we didn't already have a check in policy. I told him if we did that he should show it to me. He handed me a copy of some school rule book. I asked him if it was in there and he said those were all the rules. I didn't find anything relevant, and told him it was on him to find the rule if there was one. He told me it was on me to prove there wasn't one. We went on and on.
After a number of these sessions they became boring to me. I had better uses of my time than arguing about things we would never resolve and started avoiding him. But when I was directly called into his office I went. Once he asked for an expedited posting for something or other. I gave it to a staff member who was a little upset with him, told her to look ever so carefully at the posting, and told her not to bother getting back to me until she was sure it was absolutely perfect. The AP haunted me, coming into my classroom to ask about it. But my agent wasn't finished checking, and you know, you just can't be too careful these days.
He called me in a second time to resolve the issue of teachers checking in, which was very important to him. Why I have no idea. This discussion became pretty lively and ended with him shouting, loudly enough that people could hear him behind the closed door, "I can do anything I want!"
At my request, we met with the principal. The principal informed him that he could not, in fact, do anything he wanted. There was a contract, there were regulations, and there were laws, and we were all bound by them. I was a new chapter leader and was not expecting a whole lot. I was pretty happy the principal acknowledged the obvious.
Eventually this AP was let go. I was amazed. I thought supervisors from hell just stuck around forever. But this one was sent to another school as, oh my gosh, a teacher! Oh, the ignominy. Oh the injustice of it all! To be reduced to such a lowly status, after having had it all, and after having bought all those suits to look important while having it all. (Full disclosure--I wear suits too, and as a result had to listen in great detail while this AP described his suit size and purchasing process.)
Nonetheless, he bounced back at least twice from what I can deduce. I am amazed at the number of administrators who are able to rise via force of naked ambition. Though they may lack leadership, compassion, common sense, and whatever, they simply crawl above enough people and there they are, making an extra 20K a year or whatever it is, and playing God with that Danielson rubric.
There is that C30 thing, where a panel of teachers, parents and students sit and ask tightly regulated questions, but in the end principals do whatever the hell they want. And if they want someone who will just walk over everyone and anyone, then that's who they get.
I actually do know some teachers who used to be APs, but none of them seem crazy to me. It's hard for me to imagine any of them being that unreasonable, and a few have even told me stories that made them (and me) not want to be an AP. In fairness, that's not a tough argument to sell me, because I've never wanted to be AP in the first place.
I guess if the only important thing in your life is rising up and advancing, you do it one way or another. But people who are about that and nothing else make awful leaders, and they are a big problem for those of us who have to deal with them day to day. They're an even bigger problem, long-term, for those of us who actually care about education and working people. And make no mistake, most, if not all of our students are gonna become working people very soon. They've got enough to deal with without warmed-over Dilbert characters as bosses.