District Leadership Means Supporting Teachers
I received an email this week from a high school teacher in the Davis School District asking for my thoughts on leadership at the district level. I'm sharing my reply here because I think others may have similar questions.
Thanks for reaching out. And a huge thanks for being on the front lines of our country’s current educational disaster. Seriously. I can only imagine how frustrated you must feel to be doing so much work in so many different directions all the time. And that’s what teachers do even without mid-pandemic conditions, right? I’m overwhelmed for you, and I’m grateful for you. Your work is more important now than ever. I don’t know a whole lot about Reid Newey, and I don’t want to point fingers or be disparaging. But I will say this: I’m running for school board because I don’t like the way things are going in this school district. I started at the most local level looking for help with my concerns, and I found that none of the teachers I met with were being supported to do their best work. As I moved along the spectrum trying to get resolution, I only found greater confusion, minimal transparency, and nobody willing to take clear responsibility for improving situations the higher and higher I directed my questions. This is just absurd. The most painful part is that it’s students and educators who take the biggest hit—and to me, they’re the only ones who matter. I truly believe if we’re working hard as a district to create support for teachers to do their best work, then we’re going to create spaces for students to do theirs. This is the whole point of public education—America really felt we could provide this inalienable right to all. I don’t believe we’re doing this in DSD. And it seems to me we won’t be able to do this until DSD leadership models and facilitates practices, policies, and expectations that don’t fail educators or students. I don’t think this is idealistic thinking. I think it’s totally possible if we get our focus and our examples right: we make sure teachers have a clear, weighty say in what they need, use, and create in their classrooms; we make sure teachers have access to regular PD from subject specific best practitioners; we make sure we’re using data to make policy decisions that will benefit student learning; we keep our special interest groups in check; we make it mandatory that teachers are paid more. The list goes on. Professionally, I’m an educator, not an administrator, so that’s where my focus always is. I think too much time in or as administration confuses that focus. But frankly, I’m a parent, and I want this district to run as smoothly, efficiently, and effectively as it possibly can. Because when it does, my life gets easier. My kids feel encouraged. I feel encouraged. I feel like their teachers trust that I’m committed to working with them for my kids’ greatest good. I feel like my tax dollars are going to the right thing. None of this is happening in DSD right now. It’s past time for a new reality. I hope this is illuminating of my position rather than just wordy. I really do welcome a conversation about this or any other issues you value in this school board election. Many thanks again for the work you do to help students. Kind regards, Amanda Olson