I have had countless conversations with fellow educators about teacher quality, teacher tenure, and the removal of teachers who do terrible things, or simply just can't cut it in the classroom. There is consistent agreement that our kids all deserve great teachers. There is agreement that schools and administrators should work hard to ensure that teachers receive the preparation and ongoing professional development to hone their skills. Everyone speaks emphatically about removing teachers who cause physical harm to kids. Yet, when it comes to the processes that should be employed to take really bad teachers out of the classroom, many of us part ways. I have seen this in action in my own experience. There have been multiple times in my career as an administrator when teachers, parents, and kids have alerted me to the wrongdoing of teachers. I don't mean just plain old incompetence. I am talking about terrible acts that cause terrible harm to our most innocent kids. Unfortunately in a few of these cases I had no choice but to remove teachers from classrooms. That's when it got strange. Every time this has happened, the very same people (teachers, parents, kids) who expressed the concerns about the teacher's treatment of students, became very upset when the teacher left. There was inevitably an outcry for the poor soul who had lost his or her job. There were occasions when people asked if they could contribute to the person's legal defense, or if there was some way I could take back the action of removing the teacher. Kids blamed themselves for the problem and cried when the teacher left. It seems we have become so conditioned to the idea that a teacher can't be removed, that when it actually happens, we believe we have done something wrong. I am not aware of any other profession that requires the same level of investigations and legal proceedings to remove an employee who is not meeting expectations. Most people really don't understand what school leaders must actually do to remove a teacher. For some good insight into this, read this article by Barbara Martinez of the Wall Street Journal. So, as teacher unions, legislators, and school reformers grapple with how we determine what a good teacher is and does, we should at least find a way to remove teachers who are causing true ho
Janine Walker Caffrey writes about reading, education and a few other topics related to happiness and life in general.