Friday, March 2, 2012

Rant: Teachers are like CEO's

As I write this teachers in British Columbia, Canada have voted with 84% affirmative support to take legal strike action on Monday. There are talks about legislating teachers back to work and there are marketing campaigns from both sides of the debate (Government vs. The Teachers Union) that do more to muddy the waters than clarify things.

BC's Ministry of Education has a plan...

But wait, let's clarify:
   Goal = an idea to work towards
   Plan = detailed actions on how to get there

The "plans" on the Ministry of Education's site are old school, top down, management visions; they are not actual plans. Dear Ministry of Education, what do you think you will accomplish by employing old strategies to old problems in old ways? We have heard these plans for change before: re-assess curriculum, address teacher accountability! These are not new ideas for change.

(Quick! Somebody form a committee and commission a report! It will be money well spent because the report will be so cumbersome that no-one will have time to read it! In fact, by the time schools get around to deploying some of the idealistic recommendations, there will be a new government in charge and those reports will be old and outdated! Money well spent indeed.)

Old solutions applied to old systems does not give new results. But dialogue is good and so I applaud the Ministry for open sourcing ideas on one small part of their website. They are opening up lines of converstation and that is good. New solutions are bound to surface on this site.

My innovative solution for improving the system? (I'm so glad you asked!) I am in favour of full time administrative assistants supporting small groups of teachers with administrative tasks. (Not an earth shattering idea, but a NEW idea in education.) The role would be different from Teachers Assistants that currently exist to support students who have special needs. Having a dedicated Administrative Assistant would enable teachers to delegate work that a teacher doesn't necessarily need to do and a parent volunteer can't do. They could be interns. New teachers possibly. Maybe the role could serve as the final year of their teacher education degree program.
If you told a CEO that he was going to plan and facilitate 6 hours of back to back meetings every day, 5 days a week, every week in addition to his regular duties (managing his staff of 30, meeting company goals and  keeping pace with what others in the industry are doing,) the first thing that CEO would do is hire an assistant! If a corporate manager needs an assistant to do their job effectively, why wouldn't a small group of teachers benefit from an assistant? Someone to book and organize field trips, research instructional materials for the next project, look after lunch milk and pizza day money, track down the bean bag bin when it goes missing from the gym, prepare for a complex lesson demonstration... I could keep going but I think you get the point.

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