“Anyone with gumption and a sharp mind will take the measure of two things: what’s said and what’s done.”
Here we go again. The first year Dr. Joseph arrived from Maryland, the weather turned bad and people turned to leadership for… well, leadership. Leadership dropped the ball.
Dr. Joseph was the new guy and so people were quick to defend.
“It’s a hard call to make.”
“You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”
“He’s new to town. He didn’t understand how we are impacted by the weather.”
Dr. J emerged from the incident pretty unscathed. Everybody vowed to give him another chance. Because there is going to be a learning curve, right?
Fast forward a year and inclement weather comes up once again. And once again… fumble.
Fast forward to year three, this morning, and once again streets are covered with snow and once again… fumble.
At some point, you have to wonder why no one seems to be learning anything. Why does the process never seem to improve? Based on today’s handling of inclement weather, I’d say the only lesson learned is that since no matter what you do people are going to be critical, you might as well do nothing. Because that’s the approach the district employed.
Not a word to teachers. Not a word to students. Not a word to parents. No call outs. No emails. No social media posts. Just silence. Even as districts around us canceled and parents communicated the treacherous road conditions.
Snow started falling throughout the district around 5 AM. Parents and teachers who were up turned to social media and the local news to see what the plan was for the day. They were greeted by crickets. There was no communication from the district until 8:35 AM, when the district’s former public information officer, now communications backbencher, Michelle Michaud tweeted out:
This morning, we had unexpected blast of winter weather in areas across Davidson Cty. MNPS puts the safety of students & employees at the forefront of all weather decisions. We encourage families & employees to keep their safety in mind when traveling in hazardous conditions.
To be fair, we should be grateful that Michaud took the initiative because it was a full 10 minutes later before an official statement from MNPS came out. One that was completely nonsensical:
Hello MNPS families,This morning, we had an unexpected blast of winter weather which resulted in a dusting of snow over many areas across Davidson County. Our Transportation team was out early assessing the roads to determine whether they were safe to pass. Our team works closely with Metro Public Works to salt areas of concern. MNPS puts the safety of our students and employees at the forefront of all weather-related decisions. We also always encourage families and employees to keep their personal safety and well-being top of mind when considering travel in hazardous conditions.When schools are closed or delayed, information will be shared in a number of ways: 1) calls to families; 2) announcements on the district’s Twitter and Facebook pages; 3) announcements on the district’s webpage, and 4) through local media outlets.For questions, please call (615) 259-INFO.
No communications at all from
@MetroSchools engenders bad feelings & further breakdown of trust for parents & teachers.
And here’s why educators continue to get screwed. I’m going to school because of guilt. I cannot let my school kids and coworkers down on principle. Damn it all to Hell. It makes me so angry with Metro and with myself.
We say that leadership is the process of driving groups of people towards outcomes. That’s true, to a point, but it’s much broader than that. In reality, leadership describes what leaders symbolize more than what they achieve. Productive leadership requires that followers find a sense of purpose and meaning in what their leaders represent, such as social identity or some future opportunity.
In our attempt to understand process, we strive to tame leadership into a static checklist, ignoring the reality that leadership is intensely contextual, and always is dependent upon particular circumstances.
Here are some protocols and processes that apply when addressing the MNPS Board:
- Please be a few minutes early to check the speaking order on the agenda. Staff members will be present to assist you if needed.
- All speakers are limited to three minutes. The length of time may change at the chair’s discretion.
- Your name will be listed in speaking order on the screens in the board room. Please be alert and at the microphone when the previous speaker finishes. Your time begins when the previous speaker finishes. Any additional time it takes you to walk to the microphone may count as part of your time.
- You should begin your comments by stating your name and your address (or school assignment for MNPS employees) for the record. For example, “Good evening Chair, members of the board, and Dr. Joseph. My name is John Citizen and my address is 123 School St. in Nashville.” It is important that we have your contact information in case follow-up in necessary.
- Avoid repeating points made by other speakers. Board members appreciate any new information you can present.
- During your comments please be mindful to not disclose any information that could jeopardize the privacy rights of any students, faculty, or staff members.
- You may not distribute materials, printed or otherwise, directly to board members during the meeting. If you would like to distribute materials please submit these by bringing 20 printed copies to the meeting. Staff will distribute the material as deemed appropriate by the chair.
- You are not required to speak for the full time. If you complete your thoughts early that is fine.
- At the close of your comments simply say, “Thank you for your time,” and return to your seat.
- If you would like to contact board members outside of the board meeting visit http://www.mnps.org to find contact information.
The first red flag for me is that in both signing up, and upon speaking, a speaker must give their home address. Huh? Why? Based on the climate of the last several board meetings, how many potential speakers would demure based upon fear of divulging that information? Remember at a recent meeting a speaker who was critical of the director was barely permitted to finish uninterrupted because of people in the gallery. In the past, speakers would divulge the individual school they were affiliated with, and it seemed to work just fine.
I’m sure the defense from MNPS leadership will be that the director just wants to meet with speakers individually to gain a better understanding. But as evidence of retaliation – sexual harassment lawsuits, program cuts, and favoritism – mount, how many will see a different intent?
Congratulations to former MNPS teacher Cicely Woodard for being a recipient of this year’s Horace Mann Award for Teaching Excellence. She is one of 5 recipients that will be honored at NEA’s Gala on Friday, 2/8. You can join in celebrating them by tuning in to the live stream of the Gala at http://www.neafoundation.org
Blogger and teacher Peter Greene has an interesting take on the national teacher shortage. Per his latest:
There is no teacher shortage.
There’s a shortage of willingness to invest the profession with respect and support. There’s a shortage of willingness to make the jobs appealing enough to attract and retain all the people schools want to attract and retain. There’s a shortage of will to make the job appealing enough to hold onto the people who start out. There’s a shortage, not just of money, but of respect and support and empowerment.
There is no mystery to what is happening, but to deal with effectively, to actually face it, the People In Charge need to stop calling it what it is not.
There is no teacher shortage.
I urge you to read the whole piece.
Nashville blogger Vesia Hawkins writes this week about the pending deadline for MNPS’s School Choice process. It’s a good read and I urge you to check it out.
That’s a wrap. Check out the Dad Gone Wild Facebook page. It’s a good news station with lots of inspiring pictures from last week. If you need to get a hold of me, the email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep sending me your stuff and I’ll share as much as possible.
If you think what I write has value, please consider supporting the work through Patreon. I’ll be honest with you, January and February are slow bartending months so I could use any support you can throw my way. To those of you who pledged money this past week, thank you, thank you, thank you.