For the past three years, the Mt. Diablo Education Association (MDEA) teachers’ union has asked its members to complete “school climate” surveys, rating the environments at their campuses according to a variety of criteria, including how respected they feel and whether their administrators demonstrate integrity, honesy and follow-through.
After reviewing surveys from two of the lowest-ranking schools this year, Trustee Lynne Dennler decided to speak to teachers at those sites to gain more insights into their concerns. Dennler, who is a retired elementary teacher from the district, shared her thoughts about the surveys and the teachers’ comments with the board Monday, without naming the two schools.
Here is what she said:
“Last week, I met with the teachers at two schools. I asked to meet with these teachers, as their recent MDEA climate surveys indicated these staffs are extremely dissatisfied with their administrators.
Each school has uniquely different issues, but in each, they are unacceptable and undermine a positive teaching environment. We recently had Clayton Valley choose to become an independent charter. One, of their teachers’ motivations that led to consider a charter, was dissatisfaction with their ineffective, unsupportive administrators. At that time, the district administration turned a blind eye.
I am not suggesting the reason to respond to a poor school climate, is the avoidance of a charter. We as a Board of Education , have the responsibility to provide the best possible environment for our teachers to teach and our students to learn.
A positive classroom climate is an essential factor in a quality education. There are many elements that go into this positive environment. For a teacher or any worker anywhere, being treated respectfully, feeling valued, by management is essential.
Imagine going to your work each day and not being treated with respect by your supervisor. We have teachers who are yelled at in the presence of their students. Teachers are called to the office on false pretenses by the principal, then blindsided by a parent.
Imagine having your administrator make decisions that aren’t in the student’s best interest, just to please the parent. Would you be comfortable with your confidential information being shared with your coworkers, by your supervisor?
Would a supervisor who misrepresents facts or who is outright dishonest, foster confidence in your work environment? Inconsistent communications and ever changing policy creates a difficult work environment. ‘Walking on eggs’ is not a mindset that produces the positive energy and the creativity required for teaching, or for creating a positive classroom climate.
Were all these teachers’ comments regarding their administrators, negative? Absolutely, definitely not! These teachers certainly gave credit where it was due. However, these teachers aren’t accorded the respect and professionalism deserved.
We must be careful, to not assume there is something wrong with the survey questions just because the results make us uncomfortable. I hear teachers blamed because they have spoken up.
This is incorrect. They are professionals who care deeply about teaching and their students. It is our mistake to appoint administrators who lack adequate experience and the required leadership skills to move our schools forward.
Instead of addressing the problem, we make excuses and ignore the problems. The problem not the questions asked, or the number of responses received. We as a Board need to be certain our students have the best climate we can provide. To ignore these problems is educational malpractice.”
Here is a link to video of her statement: http://qik.com/video/51263350
How do you think the district should address the issues raised by Dennler and the teachers with whom she spoke?