Friday, November 6, 2009

The Cycle of Failure for Administrative Decision Making

Having a good relationship between administration and faculty is paramount for a positive work environment. When that bond crumbles, everything else is soon to follow. No one likes being told what to do and it's even worse when the person handing down the commands is out of favor. Here's the series of events that leads to total collapse:
1. The administrator sends down a directive. Either because of poor rapport with the faculty or nearsighted decision-making, he/she does not ask for input before doing so.

2. Naturally, the faculty is furious. They vow to either ignore the directive completely and rely on safety in numbers to avoid consequence or they pursue the directive in such a lax manner that there is no way its goal will ever be achieved.

3. The directive is a spectacular failure.

4. Frustrated and looking to make things right, the administrator sends out another directive. Again, the faculty throws up its arms in resentment. This time, however, they cite the failure of the previous directive as the reason to not do as they're told. "His/her previous plan didn't work, so why should we believe this one will?"
The administrator's efforts will always fail because of the faculty's ill contempt. It's a vicious circle that is nearly impossible to recover from without some major personnel changes.

When this cycle of administrative failure happens, what's to blame - the poor attitude of the faculty or the myopic approach taken by the administrator? Probably a bit of both. I understand that me offering advice to administrators is like the flight attendant telling the pilot what to do in the cockpit, but sometimes a different perspective helps. Before handing down orders, do yourself and every else involved the courtesy of gathering as much input as you can before making a decision that affects everyone in your building.

While most posts on my blog are reactive/reflective of something happening in my professional life, this one is not. At least not recently. Several teachers on my team at school currently have student teachers, and I thought about this today while discussing with them what they should hope for as they begin the interview process for a permanent teaching position. In my opinion, working in a positive environment far outweighs all other aspects of a district. It's the job of both the administration and the faculty to make this happen.
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