Thursday, June 28, 2018

The DOE's Brand New, Massively Large, Organizational Structure

Buried in the news of Janus yesterday, the new chancellor, Richard Carranza, announced his new organizational structure of the NYC Department of Education.

Rumors were flying that the new chancellor might see all of the waste that is down at Tweed and do a bit of house cleaning. For those of us in schools, the hope was that fewer people at Tweed would mean fewer monies would be spent in salaries and that, perhaps, some of those resources would bleed down to the school level. The announcement dashed those hopes quicker than Alito's decision in Janus.

Far from creating a structure that reduces the bloat over at Tweed, the reorganization created a brand new, very thick, layer of bureaucracy. A new role -First Deputy Chancellor- covers all school supervision related activities. This includes the supervision of a total of 9 other brand new positions -the "Executive Superintendent". These two new positions are poised to be new faceless faces from far away offices who will be eating up the roughly $27 B annual budget of the NYCDOE.


The new structure places the DOE on a more politically adept footing, better able to answer the city-wide challenges of the time. School space and charter schools will fall under one Deputy Chancellor.  PEP and public relations will both fall under another. And ELL and SWD fall under yet another.  

Tweed re-orgs have become like rugs in the Oval Office. Each new boss gets to pick his or her own and when it's picked, that's "the look" for the next few years. But this new re-org has all the looks at feels of an entity that will not alienate its current employees and can navigate the politics of the time. What's missing when those are the priorities? 

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Grētanology Summary

When you're a teacher, you give different "Good Morning"s to different people for different reasons.
But you always give a "Good Morning".

Image result for good morning cartoonYou see hundreds of people during the day. Literally speaking, that is hundreds of "Good Morning"s. I realize that may feel like a lot, almost like you are  some type of "Good Morning" machine. Maybe, as a person, you're not built that way. I know I, as a person, am not built that way.

But don't bogart your cheerfulness. There are certain responsibilities and expectations associated with being "the teacher". Meeting those expectations have their own benefits, both for you and for those around you. Spreading that cheer is one of them. Don't forget, this is just a "Good Morning". It's really no big deal. But, somewhere between the words of this simple greeting, lies a small part of he key to inspiring the humans around you (both children and adults). That's the coolest part of the job and most teachers who have been in the game long enough come to understand this. This is why most pedagogues eventually just relent their own personal hangups and give the darn "Good Morning" with a teacherly smile.

Here is a rundown of the different types of "Good Morning"s you may find myself offering at some point in your day.

You may give some "Good Morning"s out of sheer coutersey. The school aide and building SSAs get a good morning because they work hard and aren't paid very much. They've earned that courtesy and your "Good Morning" is acknowledgment that they work hard like you. Also important: students turn to those people and you want them to feel warm and fuzzy when students do.

The two students walking down the street on their way to school are important. They may be locked in their own conversation and could just care less about the world around them, but they get a "Good Morning" as well.  Their "Good Morning" comes because, at some level, they know they're passing a teacher and a polite greeting one of those expected things that reminds them they are entering their school zone.

Other "Good Morning"s are more important. You give that student who struggles a "Good Morning" because you want to be a point of light for that young person. Heck, isn't that why you became a teacher in the first place? Struggling at school is hard. A quick"Good Morning"? That's easy. That student gets a warm "Good Morning" from you and the "Good Morning" he or she gets may be just the first step in a brief conversation that may include asking how their after-school-time day was and whether or not all of the homework was able to get done. If done consistently, you will be the one the student turns to if a need arises. Believe it or not, you want to be the person that student turns to. This may include the next time they need a pen or have to take a moment to vent or is looking for something productive to do.  You want to make sure that "Good Morning" counts so you make sure that it comes from the heart. So, forget about the rush to the coffee shop. You'll have enough time. Stop and give that "Good Morning".

The loner gets the warmest "Good Morning" you can muster at any particular moment. Despite how they are dressed or how they may act, you're a teacher and you know that no one wants to be alone during school. That one greeting may be the only connection he or she makes that day. You want that connection to be a good one, so you swallow back your hot coffee and do your best to make sure that "Good Morning" counts. (The shy kid gets a similar "Good Morning" because you don't want he or she to become another loner. There are already too many loners in this world).

Your morning classes get a big "Good Morning" everyday at the beginning of class. You just stand, smile and and say "Good Morning". Do that for 30 school days without fail and, pretty soon, the class will respond with a greeting back. That's a cool teacher experience. The late arriving student gets one too. Maybe they were late upon their own accord or maybe their train or bus was delayed. Regardless of why, they're there now. Just give them a greeting. I'll explain some other time. The smartest student who have gets a "Good Morning". That kid may wind up being the Valedictorian. You don't want to risk being unappreciated by the school's top performing student.

Certain students in the afternoon class may or may not get a "Good Morning". This depends on the circumstance. You know who I'm talking about: That student who falls asleep in your class. He or she gets a Good Morning just after you have woken him or her up. This is *not* a sarcastic "Good Morning". This is a warm, inviting, yet firm "Good Morning". Believe it or not, that young person may be fairly well embarrassed to have been woken by the teacher. This standard, cheerful greeting will go far to ease that embarrassment and get that student into class.

After a while, you may come to be known for your "Good Mornings". At this point, you may learn that cheerful morning greetings begat cheerful morning greetings.  You will start receiving some "Good Mornings" from people you normally wouldn't expect. As a result, you will find yourself giving the greeting as a response as well. That's a good thing. It means your cheer-spreading greeting is working.

Other folks get one just because. Your room partner gets one because you see him or her every day. The person working the copy machine gets one because it is thankless work and you want your copies on time. The attendance person gets one because he or she works through a lot of a paper everyday. Your chapter leaders gets one because, well, chapter leader.

You don't, however, say "good morning" to your friends. They don't get the same old greeting you give everyone else. They get a "what's up" or a quick up-nod with a smile. They'll know why. Others do not receive one, either. You try to avoid saying "Good Morning" to an organized, extreme leftist. New York is filled with them and there are so many different types, it's better to just to keep clear until you've sorted it all out. That one "Good Morning" may, one day be purposefully misconstrued as a threat or as bullying behavior because of that person's agenda. Many left people are super cool but others are known for this slick type of shaming behavior. The sad fact is, you can never tell which type of leftist you're dealing with until you get to know them. So these folks have to to receive a polite smile at first. The laid back ones will eventually come up to and assure you that they're not "one of those" leftists (from that point on, they get a "Good Morning"!). I, for instance, an a liberal Catholic, so I'm used to going up to people and reassuring "I'm not one of "those" types of dreamers". The extreme ones on some type of mission will know you're keeping your distance and will just keep it rolling. Their mission is always more important than any person, anyway and they just won't have the time. You may or may not say "Good Morning" to your principal or supervisor as well. This depends on the person. If they're good, then you give it. If they're not, then the absence of a greeting which you have become known to give everyone else will leave a statement that is neither nice nor insubordinate. Sometimes not communicating anything is the clearest form of communicating. Document this in your own private notebook. That way, if there is retaliation, your grievance will win.

There are other types of greetings you give throughout the day but the "Good Morning" greeting is the most important. That's why it's important to get it right and to share it often.

Say it with me. "Good Morning". Sounds cheerful and hopeful, doesn't it?