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Angelo Angelo is offline
 
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Let's Quit Pretending
Old 10-20-2018, 08:19 AM
 
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I know many of you can relate. How many of us have been asked to sit on a committee under false pretenses?

They asked me to sit on a committee (of course they did, sigh... and since I'm the guy who has a hard time saying no, I agreed) to explore whether it was worth initiating a new program for handling X issues in the school (sorry that's so vague, but if I get any more specific, I may out myself).

So the chair of the committee, while not part of the Admin team, is very close to them. Same age as the head of school. They've known each other since high school. You get the idea. He's also very abrasive and short-tempered (the chair of the committee, I mean).

He comes to the first meeting of the committee, thanks everyone for contributing their time and talents, and says the purposes is to explore different models and to decide if it's worth recommending to the school that we proceed. If so, we will adopt a model, shake out the details relevant to our school, and help roll it out over 2-3 years. He says, "And if we determine this is the wrong direction to go, we'll recommend to Admin that we not pursue it. No harm, no foul." Fine.

We go around the table and discuss different ideas we have. We agree that we should do some more research individually and meet again. Then, out of nowhere, the committee chair begins distributing a curiously polished, glossy prospectus of a "model" we "might be able to use." It's been developed for Admin by an outside company, has been stamped with our school's seal and motto, and is a very specific proposal.

One committee member raises her eyebrows as we all read through it quickly and asks, "If you already have this, why are we talking about researching different models?" The chair says, "Oh... this is just one proposal. This may not be the way we want to go. We want to look at different models and see if there's one that's a good fit for our school." "Okay..." responds the committee member, "but this looks like a lot of time and work went into it. You're saying this ISN'T necessarily what we're going to be doing?" The chair acts all evasive and then admits, "Well, I mean... Admin was very impressed when they heard this presentation. They definitely want us to consider it." The committee member said, "I don't want to waste time doing more research and generating ideas if Admin has already decided on this model." The chair got a bit hot under the collar and said, "That's offensive. We wouldn't have asked you to sit on a committee if we didn't want other ideas."

Actually, they have been known to do exactly that in the past. They strike a committee and make their idea look like the work of a committee so as to convey the impression that teachers from various departments had input into it. Then they use the committee members to do all the leg work and PD to get it off the ground. Everyone suspects this is what is happening here. We'll put time and effort into discussing/researching it, then Admin will just do what they wanted all along, and we'll be left holding the bag.

Anyway, we (individual educators) weren't nearly as impressed with this prospectus as Admin apparently was (they aren't the ones who would need to do all the day-to-day work to make it happen, and the benefits would be, in our opinion, negligible). It's more of a marketing coup for Admin if we can say we are a "X Model School."

So we come back to the committee and start generating alternative ideas. The chair of the committee promptly starts shooting down idea after idea and basically trying to make individual committee members feel stupid for proposing them. We all exchange looks like, why are we even here?

Four meetings in, a committee member confronts the chair. "It seems like you're just going to shoot down every alternative we suggest." He gets annoyed and says, "No, I'm not. But you keep coming back with these half-baked ideas when we have a workable proposal already on the table." He gestures to the glossy prospectus. A committee member says, "Yes, but the teachers have real concerns about that model." The chair says, "Yeah. I think I know the concerns." He rolls his eyes and gives an exaggerated sigh. The committee member says, "What's that supposed to mean" He says, "Classroom teachers are gonna have a problem with anything that might require them to work a bit harder or maybe change the way they teach." At this point, the classroom teachers on the committee erupt with anger. They have no problem with change if it's likely to be effective and if there's buy in from the staff. This model is problematic. The chair shakes his head in anger and says, "I think that's enough for today." He gets up and stomps off without another word.

At this point, it's clear to everyone that the chair of the committee was deputized by admin to get a committee together to sell this specific prospectus to the rest of the school. This whole thing has not been about developing anything, but rather about implementing this prospectus developed by a company with which Admin has already obviously made some sort of agreement (although they still deny they've committed to anything).

At the next meeting, the chair apologizes (not very sincerely) for his behavior the previous week.

Chair: I'm sorry if I lost my temper last week.
Member A: It's okay, Gene, but we're trying to figure out where you're coming from here.
Chair: I already told you where I'm coming from. Admin wants to look at a new model for X and wants to generate ideas.
Member B: But you came with a glossy proposal that makes it look like a done deal.
Chair: It's not a done deal.
Member C: But then you shot down every alternative we brought to the table.
Chair: Yeah, because here *tapping the prospectus* we have fully planned out model. And you come back with vague ideas you got from surfing the web. If you come back with something concrete and developed we can look at it.
Member B: So you're saying you won't consider any alternative unless it's a fully costed, published proposal specific to our school?
Chair: A costed, specific proposal would be better than vague ideas.
Member C: But what classroom teacher has time to put together something like that? We have full-time jobs. This was done by an outside company that wants to make some money off our school.
Chair: I don't get it. Why do you people resist absolutely everything?
Member A: Wait a minute. We don't resist everything. But was the purpose of the whole thing just to get us to rubber stamp what Admin already wanted? What's the point of that?
Chair: I never said that. You're putting words in my mouth.
Member B: But you pop out a prospectus and then shoot down every alternative.
Chair: I guess I just don't get why you people have such a problem with this. *holding up the brochure* I went with Admin to visit a school that does this, and it's great.
Member A: You never told us you visited a school.
Chair: What does it matter? The idea is to hear your input.
Member B: Well, our feeling is that this might work in a different environment but perhaps not ours.
Chair: Good teaching is good teaching. Doesn't matter on the environment.
Member C: How long have you been out of the classroom?
Chair: That's not a helpful question.
Member C: Just saying.
Chair: Well, you know what? This is the way we're going. If you have a problem with this, I have to wonder how committed you are to becoming a better school. Just because you might have to work a bit harder and try some new things... I dunno. Teachers...
*The meeting ends with riotous angry responses*


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I saw this coming!
Old 10-20-2018, 08:33 AM
 
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Quote:
Then, out of nowhere, the committee chair begins distributing a curiously polished, glossy prospectus of a "model" we "might be able to use." It's been developed for Admin by an outside company, has been stamped with our school's seal and motto, and is a very specific proposal.
Oh boy, based on my experience of 38 years I saw this coming. When I was asked to be on committees I soon realized that I was to be a "nod your head yes and keep your mouth shut" committee member. Admin always had a proposal in mind and would hear no other ideas that teachers offered. If a member spoke up with alternate ideas or voiced difficulties they could foresee with the administration's proposal the member would be called into the admin's office and it was made clear that they were to keep quiet. (Happened to me.) The difference between your experience and mine is that your staff members have b*lls! They spoke up and confronted the chairman with their proposals and then made it clear that they were being set up as figureheads not contributing members of a committee. I really admire that. I think what happened to you is more common than not. Stinks, doesn't it?
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Old 10-20-2018, 08:59 AM
This message has been deleted by mooba1. Reason: Tried to edit, forgot to hit delete button.
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Old 10-20-2018, 09:00 AM
 
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A blind man could see this coming from a mile away. As you knew going in, the deal was already signed, sealed, and quite possibly delivered. What a morale booster for the staff.
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Not Fun
Old 10-20-2018, 09:16 AM
 
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Yup . . . that's the way it goes. They act like they are asking for opinions but already know what they are planning on doing.

This might win the award for the longest post I've seen on PT.
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Yuck...
Old 10-20-2018, 09:20 AM
 
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I hate liars and scammers.

This jerk scammed your time, and lied about the outcome not being set in stone.

Swarmy weasels are the worse.


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Old 10-20-2018, 09:22 AM
 
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And I love the part about the committee chair and admin already having visited a school that's using X program. Committee chair either volunteered or was roped into being the person to steer the faculty committee into selecting the glossy, preordained program, all the while making the faculty committee members feel like they'd contributed to the process so they would buy in. I'd also bet that the committee chair is trying to get an admin job.
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Old 10-20-2018, 09:28 AM
 
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Totally the way it goes.Sometimes it's the fake committee. Sometimes the fake mini pilot where they really want your input , though typically they will announce the decision to adopt it before they ever get your input. Sometimes it's the whole school vote, with teachers voting not to adopt the new model, but guess what: It is not a democracy and if the admin thought it sounded great, who cares what the people who actually have to use it think.
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Old 10-20-2018, 09:30 AM
 
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The politics of public education is just as ugly as it is in D.C.

This is another example why I believe the great deterioration in public ed is leadership. It could be that the Chair's arm is being twisted also.

The biggest fallacy in public education is everything is cookie cutter works.


"Good teaching is good teaching. Doesn't matter on the environment." !


"Member C: How long have you been out of the classroom?
Chair: Well, you know what? This is the way we're going. If you have a problem with this, I have to wonder how committed you are to becoming a better school. Just because you might have to work a bit harder and try some new things... I dunno. Teachers..."

Any speculation there? How many held their tongue?
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My experience, as well...
Old 10-20-2018, 09:40 AM
 
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I stopped volunteering to be on curriculum committees when it became obvious that the decision was already made for us. With out most recent science program, it came down to two choices. The one that was adopted was awful. I asked one of my friends on the committee if that was his choice, and he said no. It turned out the science supervisor had a connection to the other program that we ultimately went with. Years ago, at least we saw presentations from various publishers. Now, the supervisors or principals know what they want and our voices are silenced. By the time I retired, I was careful to pick committees that were either not curriculum-based or were just in place to plan a specific event for the school.
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I was in a huge district..long ago
Old 10-20-2018, 10:12 AM
 
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and was asked to be on a text book adoption committee. ( Big $$$ was to be made...) They truly acted like they wanted opinions. I wasted so much time reading all of the books, going to all of the after school/ weekend events ( They were pretty fancy shindigs though! , and reporting back to huge groups of teachers.
I found a series I loved and showed it to anyone who would look and listen. I was so excited and naive.
The series was a really great program. It turned out the district not only did not give a rat's butt about what teacher's thought. Rumor was someone in district office got a big kick back from the company he chose to adopt. That is when I learned to beware of these types of committees.
My final straw on committees like this... was about 10 yrs ago. When attempting to give input, everything was shot down cus the admin already knew what they wanted to do. I quit the committee for that reason. It was a waste of my time. I used to be more compliant when I was younger. Now I am more likely to say what is obvious. They no longer ask me to be on their committees anymore...lol and that is fine with me.


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Old 10-20-2018, 10:43 AM
 
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What a waste of time. On the other hand, if people are willing/dare to stand up to administration, take an official vote and record the results.

I'm also wondering whether there are any financial ties between the administration and whatever this new program is. It's not uncommon for an administrator to have a consulting deal with an educational publisher (or whatever it is).
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Decision
Old 10-20-2018, 03:25 PM
 
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Sorry to hear about this. It's brutal and a royal waste of time.

I was just wondering how the final decision will be made. Since your names are all recorded as committee members, do you get to vote for your preferred model? I think he just wanted a bunch of puppets to nod in agreement with the glossy model and move on. But what if all members unanimously say NO? Can they still proceed ?
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Old 10-20-2018, 03:32 PM
 
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What an enormous insult and waste of time!
And this is exactly why I've been finding ways to opt out of the "honor" of being on committees recently. I've been on too many where we do lots of groundwork for absolutely no purpose. Admin is going to do what admin already planned to do. I'm over it.
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Old 10-20-2018, 03:49 PM
 
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“You people”

That really says it all about the level of respect given to teachers.
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Have to respect
Old 10-20-2018, 04:43 PM
 
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the chutzpah your colleagues have objecting as they did. I was cheering for your committee!!!!

Oh yah, Lord I have been to those meetings. giving the impression of getting teacher buy-in. What happens is people stop showing up as it is known a waste of time. Then five years later that product is out of favor and it starts anew.
Also, it is known that some admin people really don't want to hear any new anything. Not uncommon. That's too bad, mediocrity is by far the norm.

I just remember that curriculum stops at the classroom door.
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In My Humble Opinion...
Old 10-20-2018, 04:44 PM
 
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The committee members need to invite admin to the next meeting so their concerns can be aired to him/her.

Then, the need to take their concerns to the staff, and all these members need to be on the same page. If that means a letter in mailboxes, staff email, or an on/off-campus meeting, then that is what will happen.

After that, the committee members need to resign.

Then, the committee members need to warn the staff that the admin and present chairman of the committee are going to come looking for staff to replace the committee members who resigned.

Under no circumstances should the staff volunteer to replace the members who resigned. If they do, they will be in charge of the roll-out of this program...one more thing on their plate.

Let the admin and present chairman figure out how to roll-out this proposal.

I can't imagine the roll-out will go well. I also think the new proposal will be ignored by staff, and it should be!!
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what a waste
Old 10-21-2018, 05:41 AM
 
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If the chair of the committee was more fortright, he could've just said that this is a done deal and I'm here to unpack what we're going to be adopting and getting training in. Skip the hard feelings and time wasted.
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Old 10-21-2018, 05:53 AM
 
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Exactly, Mikhail! The boss should BE the boss. If an executive decision has been made, just say so, and tell your people what you expect them to do. Don’t act like they have input if they don’t. If you don’t care whether they like it or not, don’t act like you do care. Angelo’s title said it all. Stop pretending.
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Old 10-21-2018, 07:53 AM
 
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Ha,ha, I've totally sat on committees just like you describe.
On the most recent one we realized which way the wind was blowing when we suggested presenting the information to school staff and having them vote on which program to adopt--let's just say, that proposal was shot down VERY quickly
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I got
Old 10-21-2018, 12:39 PM
 
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on a committee that was allegedly supposed to be planning out a model of a flow chart for behaviors and consequences/responses to behaviors. At the first meeting, attended by the admin who also oversees the paraprofessionals, there were no other teachers. Just paraprofessionals. And all spouting the party line being quoted by our two building admins that consequences dont work, and if we teachers just did a better job of teaching expectations and giving kids tools for managing their behavior, the problems would solve themselves. I could not believe it.
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Every freaking year
Old 10-24-2018, 01:28 PM
 
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I ask to get off the so-called leadership team( really the rubberstamp team) and every year they say no we need you . TOTAL BS and I am done this year I have made arrangements to miss them all. And guess what? They put my name on the crap anyway. Good grief I am so glad retirement light is near the end of my tunnel.
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Old 10-28-2018, 04:21 PM
 
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In my last district the superintendent came up with a grand design of leadership committees for the assorted duties once completed by administrators in order to have buy in from the staff and teachers.

The union negotiated for step one column one pay for attendance and participation of staff and teachers, with a nice $5,000 a year stipend for the chair of the committee.

The end result was the yes men and yes women sat on the sparsely attended meetings and the few of us who did not kiss admins ass and had tenure attended were treated with disdain and disrespect.

A couple of years ago I missed two months worth of meetings due to a life threatening illness. I go to the next meeting and the chair says with dripping sarcasm “Nice of you to grace us with your presence I thought you were a sore loser and quit!” The person was tge spouse of superintendent and a teacher in the district.

The culling out of excellent stellar educators has been snowballing. Sadly many were our most savvy experienced union representatives.

Nope, the aggravation was not worth the $25.00 extra in my pay check.

The harsh reality is that the superintendent’s ass kickers run the district, and it is not to the benefit of the students, their families, teachers or staff.

The burnout is high and the toxicity and hostile behavior against all but the ass kissers is very real.

Early retirement is so tempting for many who do not want to deal with drama, micromanaging wack a doodle administrators.
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