We have been hearing from a lot of teachers who say that their principals and assistant principals are bullies. We have no evidence to prove or disprove this, but the comments on the blog tell amazing stories of sorority cliques, blackballing of teachers who speak out against preferential treatment and general mistreatment of teachers who are not part of these inner social circles.
It does seem rather arbitrary and easy for a principal to set their sights on destroying a teacher in DeKalb. One does have to wonder if giving principals more latitude is truly a good idea. Our teachers have little protection when it comes down to it. Remember the case of Kesha Lanier, the Georgia Tech educated math teacher who ended up without a job after refusing to change grades for a student when requested to do so by a high-ranking administrator. DeKalb lost a terrific teacher in that power play.
We came to possess what is commonly referred to as a "Professional Development Plan" or PDP written by a principal putting a teacher on some kind of probation type status.
Below are the principal's complaints about the teacher along with demands for "improvement". To us it looks more like a vaguely worded, difficult to quantify, condescending control mechanism. Let us know what you think.
Required Plan for Specific Needs Development
Specific Objectives for Improvement
1. [Teacher] will interact in a professional manner with students and parents
2. [Teacher] will work cooperatively with school administrators, special support personnel, colleagues, and parents.
3. [Teacher] will only use appropriate and research based instructional and discipline intervention strategies as directed by the DCSS Office of Teaching and Learning and the school's local administration.
4. [Teacher] will provide plans of remediation for failing students in a timely manner.
Activities and Timelines
1. [Teacher] will participate in two workshops during the months of X and X that focus on effective classroom discipline strategies and developing effective interpersonal skills through the Office of Professional Learning.
2. [Teacher] will schedule and have two conferences with the Assistant Principal for Instruction, [another AP] and the principal to discuss strategies for improving instructional practices and workplace communication and during these meetings, teacher must share success in this area prior to [date].
3. [Teacher] will research and summarize at least three articles related to appropriate communication with students, colleagues and parents. [Teacher] will submit to the principal by [date] a plan outlining at least three professional goals in these areas along with appropriate actions teacher will implement in the workplace/classroom to improve communication with students, supervisors, colleagues and parents.
4. [Teacher] will schedule and have a conference with the principal prior to [date] to discuss progress [teacher] is making and to receive feedback about areas addressed in this PDP.
5. [Teacher] will observe three model teacher-leaders in the building, complete a summary of those observations and implement the effective teaching strategies observed in [teacher's] own classroom. Evidence/usage of these strategies must be demonstrated when [teacher] is observed by county personnel, local administrators and/or the instructional coach.
Criteria for Measurement of Progress
1. There will be no documented instanced wherein [teacher] does not follow school policies and procedures (e.g. using unofficial hall passes, not standing at the door between classes)
2. There will be no documented instances wherein [teacher] uses an unprofessional tone when interacting with supervisors, students, colleagues and parents.
3. There will be no documented instances that required conferences or expectations as communicated in this PDP have not been fulfilled as set forth in this PDP.