Saturday, October 30, 2010
Moving On Up
Fall comes again. The park is ablaze with color. October runs its course and I got through another open school night. Thirty two years worth- and I think I'm over the trauma of the first one which I wrote about in two different posts.
I've been thinking a lot about school leadership. (Not me- hell no, my current salary is pretty close to that of of a beginning administrator and in the new "accountability is everything even if the accountability measures are entirely flawed” climate, I can't think of anything less desirable, but I've been thinking how leadership means everything.
A staff member gave me a ride home.
Me: “I'm kind of angry at the old administrator.”
Her: “For leaving?”
Me: “Yeah that too, but for ruining what it took myself twenty-five years to figure out”
Her: “Which was?”
Me: “That my opinions don't count. That the best policy is the shut the door and teach policy.
Yeah for five years I thought everyone in the community had a voice. The brand new teacher expressed a preference for having the advisory period in the morning and the principal moved the period. The annoying ninth grader wrote a letter that his class should have off campus lunch privileges and they got permission slips allowing them to do so, and I opened my big mouth continuously and sometimes I got in trouble and sometimes I just got what I wanted.
Some faculty conferences took 45 minutes to discuss how many buttons on the uniform shirt can be officially left open but for those of us who have spent a lifetime in “its my way or the highway" hell its a small price to pay.
But the old principal moved onward and upward and we are back in the “shut up and teach" mode.
So I've been thinking about leadership a lot lately. How is it that spreading power around make a leader stronger?
Okay- I swore this wouldn't be a complaining log.
The eleventh grade English class is reading The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison. After a double period that includes a quiz, minor and major disruptions and other fun stuff we get to the following line, where Claudia describes the existence of her family in 1940 Ohio.
“Being a minority in both caste and class we move about anyway on the hem of life struggling to consolidate our weaknesses and hang on, to creep up singly into the major folds of the garment.”
We get it – personification and metaphor and all those good literary term things and what it must be like to live at the very bottom of the garment of life, but I feel the need to emphasize that the very best a Black family can hope for is to move up into the “fold” the hidden part.
Except I can't-'cause Lyle is singing loudly an adapted version of the theme song from the old TV Sitcom “The Jeffersons”
“Moving on up to the inside
To a major fold on the side
Moving on up to inside
We finally got a piece of the garment.”
I apologize to the teacher- I can't continue my thought.
“Usually I can ignore Lyle (funny as he is). But today he is cracking me up.”
The ELA teacher is not amused. “He's rude,” she reminds me. “He's disruptive-you were making an important point”
She' right of course. But he got “it” - the point. He was communicating it better to the rest of the class than my pontificating. I for one, know what its like to not to be able to keep your mouth shut.
And it was funny.