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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Administration Should Be Like the "Pit Crew"



Recently, I talked with a close friend who is a teacher in a local public school.  She discussed budget cuts and all of the things happening that have made the classroom a bit stressful, and then she threw out something I've heard before:
"The toughest things about cutting back is that some administrative positions are just unnecessary and have been made for people who can do nothing else.  Here we are cutting a hundred dollars here and there and these one or two people represent at least 60,000 a piece and offer no direct benefit to the classroom."
To me, times are lean and mean.  The classroom should be like a well maintained car and administration should be like the pit crew.  They should give the classroom the tools they need, encouragement, a mission, and quick "pit stops" to improve and keep them going.

What is happening instead is that some of the pit crew are opening up the trunk and piling in lead weights.  Others are siphoning off gas as teacher time and energy is wasted on side issues not important to the classroom.

Paperwork to be written but never read.

Time in meetings that are meaningless.

My friend was telling me about a particular position called the "Administrator of Community Involvement."  This administrator plans 1 hour sessions in the gym every Thursday for 1600 high school students who listen to a person in the community talk about their job.  All of this, while the teachers confiscate cell phones and "shush" students who cannot hear because of the pitiful PA system.

Last week, the person who spoke had a tiny little tv and dvd that couldn't be seen or heard.

In my humble opinion, this administrator is hurting the cause they are to support.  All of the teachers know it, but if they don't have the assemblies, why should this person have a job?

This is a position that is piling lead weight in the trunk of the car, taking kids out of the classroom, and frustrating teachers who need to get things done and siphoning their energy.

We must be efficient and lean.  That is one thing we almost do too well at our school - sometimes we are lean to a fault.  Our part time curriculum director works full time anyway.  Every person is so necessary that they do the jobs of at least a person and a half.

And yet, there are always those who are taking up space... at every school.

If you're not helping the cause of education, you're hurting it.  And with times being tough, those who count themselves leaders need to take a hard look at their own rolls when asking teachers to make cuts.  For, to ask teachers to make sacrifices when you aren't willing is unfair and breeds contempt.

Being a general manager in business previously, administrators don't want to cut a position because they fear they will never get it back.  However, great benefits come from having flatter, leaner organizations and if you're asking teachers to do more with less, so can you.

Take a hard look at the pit crew -- are they equipping and helping the classroom improve or siphoning off energy and weighing it down.  Ask the teachers, they'll tell you, that is if you REALLY want to know.


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