The Heat Is On
Date: Apr 24th, 2006 11:15:33 am - Subscribe

I would agree with the head custodian that it would be very difficult to work without air-conditioning. I would be facing the same issue myself if they didn’t fix the air conditioners soon, since administrators work most of the summer also.

I would ask him if he had spoken to the maintenance director about this problem. If not, that is whom he would need to contact. Our maintenance director would know what company to work with to get the air conditioners repaired, and he would have the authority to tell the custodians whether to go home or work on another project in another area of the district. Even if the maintenance director is out of town on vacation, he should be available on his cell phone.

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Barbara Should Not Be Promoted
Date: Apr 24th, 2006 10:58:01 am - Subscribe

My first step is to check the online local promotion policy. According to our school district policy:

“In grades 3-5, promotion to the next grade level shall be determined by the following criteria:
1. An overall average of 70 on a scale of 100 based on course-level, grade-level standards (essential knowledge and skills) for all subject areas and a grade of 70 or above in language arts and mathematics. 2. Performance on the reading and mathematics TAKS exams must be met according to locally accepted passing standards.
3. Locally accepted passing standards considered acceptable for promotion shall be:
a. Panel recommendation performance on the TAKS reading and mathematics tests; or
b. Perfomance Level at 1 Standard Error or Measurement (1 SEM) on the TAKS reading and mathematics tests, provided the student passes the respective class and the principal and teacher recommend promotion."

It seems strange to me that the secretary would be pulling Barbara’s files and looking at her grades without consulting me first. If the secretary is very professional, this could be good. If she were trying to solve the problem herself, this would be another issue I would need to deal with. Also, I would like to know if Mrs. Marshall has been talking to the teacher about Barbara’s grades throughout the year, or if she just waited until the end of the year to ask the secretary about this.

I think the first thing I would do is call the teacher, Vicki, and find out what kind of communication she had with Mrs. Marshall regarding Barbara’s grades throughout the year. I would want to see Barbara’s TAKS scores also.

If Barbara has met the requirements for promotion, then I would meet with Mrs. Marshall and Vicki together and see if we could find out what Mrs. Marshall’s concerns are and come up with the best solution for Barbara. If there is still room available in summer school, then that might be the best way for Barbara to keep up with her work and continue on to the next grade.

If Barbara has not met the standards, I would want to know why she was promoted. I would want to do whatever we could to make sure this didn’t happen again. I would still want to see if we could get her into summer school. I would find out what we would need to do to follow our policy and keep her in the same grade, if that was what was needed. If retention is needed, then we also might need to do some testing to see if Barbara is having some issue that we need to help her with to help her succeed.
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Teacher in a Rut
Date: Apr 14th, 2006 10:17:57 pm - Subscribe

This seems to be such a common problem, and a hard one to deal with. Mrs. McFarland has probably seen a lot of fads come and go. She would be leery of new ideas and want to stick to the ones that she knew had worked in the past. Unfortunately, she can’t do that and be an effective teacher for today’s kids. Changing her to another grade would force her to change some of her routines, but it might upset her if she didn’t want to change. If she became upset, and went out talking in the community about it, the community would probably side with her since she had taught many of their children and lived in the community for many years.

The most important question to consider is, what is best for the children? If the children were not learning what they should, testing like they should, and/or enjoying school like they should, then a change would need to be made.

I think it would be important to sit down with Mrs. McFarland and discuss my concerns. I would tell her that I know she works very hard, but that her students are not learning what they should. I would point out the programs or teaching methods that the school has implemented that she has not been using, and the importance of using them for the children. I would ask her why she had not been using the new methods or programs. Maybe she would benefit from visiting another school and observe a teacher of her tenure having success with the new teaching method or program. This would be less threatening than her having to observe a younger teacher in her same school. I would let her know, that as a veteran teacher and leader in her school that it is important that she show support for the new methods, in order for them to succeed.

I would make a note of my concerns and discussions with her, along with recommendations. I would make note of visits to other campuses, workshops, or reading that I require of her. It might be possible that there might be another position, such as a pullout program or something other than a teaching position that she would be better at. If she did not begin to show any improvement, I would have to change her position to one that she could be effective in, or continue the process of collecting information until I had sufficient evidence to terminate her contract. It would be very difficult to do, but I would have to remember that the children have to come first.

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The Matter With Craig
Date: Apr 14th, 2006 9:51:31 pm - Subscribe
Mood: troubled

This could be a case of Craig not seeing the importance of teamwork, coming from the “old school” way of thinking where teachers were responsible only for their own classroom in isolation. This could be some deeper issue that Craig is taking out on the other teachers. It could just be that he is not a good match with the other teachers on his team. There may just be a personality conflict.

I would assume that I have been in and out of Craig’s class and team meetings enough to know that there were some issues with Craig. I would hope that I would know if this were out of character for Craig or not. I would definitely want to keep a copy of the memo in Craig’s file if it fit with what else I had been seeing.

Obviously, Craig is not handling himself professionally if he is losing his temper and shouting and cussing. If Cindy were the kind of teacher who sincerely worked to get along with her colleagues, and I felt like I could trust her to be telling the truth, I would probably call Craig in for a meeting.

I would want to know how Craig was enjoying his school year. I would probably ask how his family is doing, to see if there were some personal problems that were causing him to be so edgy. I would ask how he and the other teachers were getting along. I would give him every opportunity to explain why he had been acting the way he had. I would talk to him about the importance of working as a team to benefit the students.

If it turned out to be a personality issue, I would move Craig to another team for the next year. I would keep a close eye on his interaction with the new team.

If Craig did not want to be a “team player”, I would let him know it was not an option at our school. I would probably require him to read some books and/or articles on teamwork for his personal professional development. I would document my request, and give him a timeline to finish the books along with an appointment to meet with me to discuss them. If there were some workshops on teamwork, I would send him to those.

I would then meet with him and his team, and discuss the importance of working as a team. I would attend some of the team meetings and see how they were going.

If Craig continued to refuse to work with his team, and I felt like I had done everything I could to help him understand the importance of working together, I would let him know that he might be happier in another school that did not require him to work on a team. I would talk to the assistant superintendent about the issue and continue the process of documenting his behavior until we felt that we had sufficient evidence to terminate his contract.
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Health Hazard ?
Date: Apr 14th, 2006 8:41:29 pm - Subscribe

Before calling Mrs. Penn back, I would want to inform the assistant superintendent of this situation and see how he wanted me to handle this. I would think he or the superintendent would want to handle it. If not handled carefully, this could escalate into a major crisis very quickly.

I am certain that Mrs. Penn is breaking the law by giving me information from Mr. Wonderful’s private records. Her supervisor would need to be called to let him know that she is breaking confidentiality. She should probably lose her job for that. The hospital could easily and rightfully be sued by Mr. Wonderful for divulging this information.

Most likely, Mr. Wonderful would need to stay in his position as art teacher, although the school lawyer would need to be contacted to make sure this is would be the proper response. In 1988, in California, a teacher was reassigned to an administrative position because of AIDS. He sued, claiming that the school’s action violated section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. It was eventually found that since transmission of HIV is known to occur through intimate sexual contact with the infected person, invasive exposure to contaminated blood, and through perinatal exposure, the teacher did not pose a significant risk. The court ordered the teacher to be reinstated to his teaching position.

Legally, our hands would be tied, and our only response would probably be to try to prevent this Mrs. Penn from spreading this gossip all over town.
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