I do not believe that I would adopt the strategy of tolerating or protecting an incompetent teacher. As a building administrator, I feel that it is extremely important to put the students first. In my building, the principal regularly asks, “but how are the children?” Based on the belief that every child deserves a quality education, they also deserve a quality teacher. If the teacher is not willing or able to put in the effort for whatever reason, then steps should be taken to either help the teacher improve their performance or begin the documentation process to dismiss the teacher. Keeping an incompetent teacher can lead to a decreased staff morale.
Also, the accomplishments of the competent majority will be overshadowed by the unsatisfactory teachers. Incompetent teachers have to be identified and retrained or dismissed if they cannot improve. Documentation needs to happen fairly and objectively. We desperately need good teachers who are operating well within their competency and on top of their subjects, so that they can properly educate and inspire young people. Colleagues must not brush problems under carpet and administrators must not move the teacher to a different school. Teaching is too important of a job to allow teachers to skate by.
I feel that administrators choose to tolerate or protect incompetent staff members for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons may be time. It is a lot easier and less time consuming to just ignore the employee and push them through with satisfactory ratings. Also, in some cases that I have seen, the principal is younger than the incompetent teacher. The principal may not be as confident in their ability to dismiss the teacher simply because the teacher has been there longer and has gotten satisfactory ratings in the past. Moving the teacher to another school pushes the problem to someone else. When you move the teacher, you do not have to deal with the teacher’s union. Because every teacher deserves due process, the union can be a real obstacle when dismissing the teacher.
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One thing that I have learned from my principal is to not be afraid to steer teachers in another direction. When I interviewed her for a previous class, this is something that she stressed. It is also something that I have seen firsthand. During the five years at my current building, at least five teachers have switched schools and two have been incompetent teachers and left education all together. Although it was not easy, I feel that our school is a better place because of this.
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