Sunday, July 12, 2009

Master Manipulators, School-Based Leaders, and Big Cry Babies

We've all heard the saying "the squeaky wheel gets the grease", and I must say that some of my fellow colleagues are pretty well lubed! Whine about having a particular duty, and surely that duty will magically disappear. Complain about needing more materials, even in a budget crisis, and surely new books will appear on your classroom shelves.

See your fellow colleague go from a 10-month position to a 12-month position in order to provide the needed higher level math at a year-round school, complain about that incredibly loudly and indicate how you'd like to be 12-month, too, because it's not fair, blah, blah, blah....

Tonight I'm trying to decide into which of three categories these squeaky wheels fall. Are they master manipulators, school-based leaders, or just big ol' cry babies?

I guess I would define master manipulators as those teachers who subtly work the system, not for the good of the children, but for their own evil, selfish plots. Maybe they are the ones who agree to head up a committee, department, or other endeavor so they can control the time, money, and efforts surrounding said endeavor. Ultimately, I know they are out for themselves and they do not have the students' or their fellow educators' best interests at heart.

Sometimes those squeaky wheels are the school leaders. They are the teachers really trying to make a difference in the academic lives of their students. They squeak because they know that having that additional novel, resource, material, whatever it is will help them teach better, more effectively, stronger in order to help a kid learn, achieve, grow. They squeak because they are the voice for all their past, present and future students. They squeak for the rest of us who are timid, unsure, too reserved or frightened to speak up for ourselves and our students.

And then there are the plain ol' big cry babies. They wail about what's fair and unfair, usually about their own situations, their selfishness right on their sleeve. But while they aren't necessarily wanting to gain anything for themselves, they don't want others to gain anything either. They may think they are crying foul, boo-hooing to help their students, but they just wind up alienated themselves from their colleagues and coming across negatively to most.

Obviously I want to continue to be a school-based leader with the right amount of squeak to manipulate the system for the benefit of my students and my teachers and to ensure that we all get the best environment in which to teach and to learn. I'm just not sure how much of a squeaky wheel I truly want to be.

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