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"We do have a growing number of outstanding teachers, but we are still building our schedules around (and I do mean "around") the teachers who do harm, and whom those of us in the school have no power to remove."


Your passionate desire to give the Brighton students every chance at a good education and a good life glows white hot in everything you write. It is the kind of commitment that supports my theory that at a certain point if you want to become a better teacher, you’re going to have to become a better person. Clever strategies, knowledge of subject, good assignments, clear explanations and polished classroom structures only take you so far. From then on you must learn how to be open to individual needs; how to make the classroom less and less about you and more and more about them; how to let their voices tell you about the world they encounter instead of trying to mold them to face the world as you see it. You have to care—not just about a concept of “deserving children” but about the reality of that nasty bully child who has contempt for your dearest beliefs. In short, you have to value Burris Ewell as much as Scout Finch.

I can feel you working on that. The question, though, is “Why?” Why should we want to give up the pieces of ourselves that such commitment requires? Is it because these children are valuable? Some of them darken every room they enter and lighten it by leaving? Do you want to sacrifice yourself for them too? If the answer is yes—yes, they are valuable, yes they are worth it—then, Betsy you have to apply that same approach to the teachers in your school.

Kids aren’t important because they are kids, they are important because they are people. Educating Brighton kids is not more important than educating kids who have all the privileges in the world. Each and every person requires our best efforts otherwise none of them do.

If you are frustrated with some of the teachers in your school, it means you haven’t found the way, yet, to help them grow as educators. So, find a way. Stop wanting to get rid of them, (Would you send them to another school where they would do their damage? Would you get them out of teaching and have them be a problem in some other profession? Would you wipe them off the face of the earth?) and continue to look for what they have to offer Brighton’s children so you can build on that.



Thank you for your response. In your past responses, you have always been very good to prompt me to rethink my position. I would like to share with you that one of my joys the past three years has been watching many of our teachers grow in their practice. This past year, two of our teachers completed the NBPTS process; another young teacher is now pursuing her Masters’ degree at an outstanding School of Education, while one of our first-year teachers is serving on the Teacher Recruitment Committee of the Governor’s Commission on Teaching Quality. In addition, we implemented Professional Learning Teams -- and watching several of our teachers take on leadership roles in this area has been thrilling. It makes me very proud of our profession to be a part of all of this.

However, I do not apologize for saying that some teachers put children in harm and need to be removed. I do not believe that just because a teacher received certification that this insures that he or she is an appropriate person to teach our children. I do not know of another profession that allows this to happen. During the first two years at Brighton my principal initiated over 270 days each year of job-embedded professional development. This averages out to be about 6 days a year for each teacher. Some of these days were full or half days of training while other days were for modeling or side-by-side teaching by consultants, experts, and coaches.

In addition, we have added a fulltime reading coach to assist teachers daily. Plus, we have had the daily expertise of a State Department Peer Mentor, and Curriculum Specialists from our district have spent many weeks assisting teachers at our school. Yet, we still have several teachers who have absorbed little of none of this training into their teaching practice and continue to have very little academic success. One of the Curriculum Specialists from our district said after spending 6 weeks in one classroom that it was criminal to place a child there.

Another concern I have is that we have called upon several of our young non-tenured teachers to take on many of the teaching duties of others due to lack of content knowledge that still exists. I hate putting this burden on them, as I fear they too will become just as frustrated as I am and leave. Our students cannot afford for these young teachers to leave, and neither can they afford the high price they are paying by having incompetent teachers.

Finally, you are right. I will always put children first.


It is hard to argue with your commitment, so I'll just explain my thinking and leave it at that.

For the past 35 years I have worked at a camp for physically challenged children. When I first moved into a director position, I encountered a photo specialist who came to me complaining that "These kids can't do anything and I'm sick of trying!" and therefore she was going to finish working the week and then quit. I told her to pack her bags that night and be out by morning.
When I informed the Executive Director of the agency about the incident, he suggested that she had chosen to do this work because she wanted to give and that she had had every intention of doing a good job. He left it at that, didn't second guess me, simply broadened my thinking.
I had denied her the opportunity to gain greater understanding and I had denied the kids the benefit of her knowledge.
I've made it my business to help every subsequent worker at the camp do a job to be proud of--and haven't fired anyone for a bad attitude in over 20 years.
In my righteousness I had failed everybody. Now,I don't believe I can run a humane camp if I assign places to people (you first, you second, you last).

P.S.(I have counseled two people to leave since that time and they saw the wisdom in it.)

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