Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Staff Dissenters.... Or Staff Slackers?

As a testament to the dedication of those involved in two of our most active school committees, teachers came together on 2 different days, unpaid, to get amped up for the new year. Our Behavior Support Committee met for several hours today, and last week (as I noted in a previous post) the PLC- Professional Learning Community- Task Force got together. Truly, hundreds of manhours have been logged in for the direct benefit of our students.

That said, an obstacle of massive proportion came up during both meetings. Perhaps you can help us with this:

What can be done about those staff members (not part of the task forces) who regularly ignore the positive efforts of large groups of their colleagues.

You know who I mean. The complainers. The eye rollers. The folks who refuse to work collaboratively because the culture of isolation feels safe and secure to them.

The slackers.

Now I'm as skeptical as the next person, and I hate administrative b.s., but when over a third of the staff dedicates itself to promoting change for improved student achievement, and then about a third more of the staff wades in slowly, but joins up as it begins to make sense..... What do we do about the others who are likely to pooh pooh just about any new idea?

Working to help that group "buy in" has been fairly fruitless.
It continues to be taboo to even specifically name those groups or individuals... As if identifying them is bad manners.

What to do? Any ideas?


Mr. C said...

Work around them and pray for their retirement. Every staff has it's naysayers and whiners; you can't change them, they don't want to change themselves. Let them go, and do the best you can without them.

Fred said...

I agree with Mr. C. Because of the flaws in the tenure system, these folks don't have to care. They're not accountable to anyone or anything.

Your only hope is to get a principal that's willing to sit in their classes every day and pressure them to change.

Mrs. Ris said...

The committee had the same idea you did Fred, that the administration had to put the hammer down as it were.

A pretty sad statement about our schools.

I'm still hoping for some big, new idea from someone across the edusphere! HA

kevin said...

"if identifying them is bad manners."

The for the children's sake, have bad manners! Be a jerk! Go after these people, embarass them, call them out during meetings, assert leadership amongst those who do want to actually work hard and make it a social norm in your organization that laziness, apathy, and pessimism aren't tolerated. Or am I suggesting a big educationland no no?

Mrs. Ris said...

I guess calling folks out is a social no-no among those who are uncomfortable with "conflict" or "confrontation".

You are exactly right, Kevin. I will practice being a jerk today and let you know how it goes!! :)

The Tablet PC In Education Blog said...

Good for you, Mrs. Courageous! Actually, you have three options.

One is to talk with abstainers privately, one on one, colleague to colleague as time permits. Ask each individual what they think will help get (name a different third person each time) more involved, etc. You know how to follow this logic out.

A second option is to ask in a public meeting what a third person suggests. It's ok to ask questions in meetings. If your principal tries to shut it down, ask the principal the Q, courteously, of course.

Here's a third option I learned from Floyd Dennis when he was on the research staff at Kennedy Center, Nashville. He used it to manage an Air Force Flight Group. I used it with mental hygiene staff in NY, etc. It follows the maxim that people respond to what you inspect, not necessarily to what you expect. It's a form of tough love for adults. It works like "aaaa" counters affect public speakers in Toastmasters.

Pick a thing to measure. Don't tell anyone what you're counting or give any explanations. Count how people (other teachers?) perform. Post those measures on a chart. Post the chart in a public place. Point a big blue arrow to the top/best performer. Measure the same thing daily and point the arrow to the best daily performer.

Soon, it's uncanny how this works, someone will tell you how the blue arrow person "cheats" to get that recognition. Ask the teller how to change what you measure; he or she will. So, without any announcements, change what you measure, etc. In a week or so, add a small blue arrow to point to the second best performer, ... It works!

For whatever reason, some people like vinegar while others swarm to honey. It's hard converting one to the other.

Best wishes. Bob Heiny