Your principles vs. your principal

New teachers should stay off the administrative radar, advises Roxanna Elden in Your Principles vs. Your Principal: How to Speak Up and When to Shut Up.

 School meetings tend to be top-down affairs: Administrators deliver information from the front of the cafeteria or auditorium, and teachers sit silently on the receiving end. Should you try to change this dynamic? Should you be the one to speak out? Should you lead the way in challenging high-level decisions, thus taking a stand for your educational beliefs and proving to administrators and colleagues alike that even new teachers deserve a place at the decision-making table?

Probably not.

New teachers should wait to speak up till they’ve built credibility with their colleagues, Elden suggests. Till then, stay quiet and look attentive.


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  1. Michael E. Lopez says:

    That’s more or less true of most people in most jobs.

    But it’s *particularly* true of bureaucratic positions where people aren’t actually hired for their expertise.

  2. “Probably not”? I think honesty requires a somewhat more forceful response then that.

    How about “almost without exception, no”?

    The public education system is everywhere a hierarchical organization with teachers as the bottom-rung professionals. More importantly, for the vast majority of schools and all school districts the teacher is irrelevant to the success of the school or district. That being the case it’s quite proper not to give a dam what teachers have to say, discourage the volunteering of opinions and punish those tin-eared enough to be deaf to that message.

    • The teachers in K-12 are the peasants and the scapegoats; as far as most administrators are concerned, they’re there to do all the nasty, unpleasant work, AND take most of the abuse from the parents for them, AND they provide an excellent scapegoat, someone to blame and punish, let go, etc. when things go wrong. Who wouldn’t want to be a K-12 school administrator under those conditions?

  3. GEORGE LARSON says:

    This is probably why union management relations are poor in many school systems.

  4. Wrong on all accounts, it should say keep quiet until you have due process rights, which most of the people on here wrongly call tenure.

  5. George Larson says:

    I recognize the distinction between due process and tenure, but there are 2 reasons so many are against due process for teachers. Most employees everywhere lack due process and the media makes it appear due process only protects incompetent teachers. If unions were smart they would show that the second reason is not true.

  6. George can’t argue about the teachers’ unions actions, that’s why I don’t belong to one. Plus, in Texas they are powerless since we lack the right to collective bargain or to strike.

    If I were in charge the union would be much more militant, and on the attack against the “reformers”.