Just the other day, I got a really nasty comment on an article I wrote from someone I didn’t know. She was a teacher and her comment was so bitter, so mean-spirited, and so inaccurate that my first thought was, “They let this women around kids???”
But the more I thought about it, the more I realized, she’s THAT teacher and so, she needs special handling.
Over the years, I’ve learned how to deal with THAT teacher. As someone who believes that ANY teacher can become a master teacher with the right kind of support and practice, you can imagine I’ve met a few teachers in my career who have challenged that belief. So, I’ve had to learn or develop ways to support even the most recalcitrant, mean, noncompliant, bitter teachers and move them towards mastery.
The thing is, while most of us agree that we MUST do something about THAT teacher, the approaches we typically use just make matters worse.
We ostracize, criticize, and demonize THAT teacher, or write them up, initiate the dismissal process, or try to make them so uncomfortable at work that they just leave.
THAT teacher should not be allowed to terrorize children, but in going after that teacher we can’t become terrorists ourselves.
There is another way.
You see, I’ve done it both ways.
I’ve gone after THAT teacher and spent a miserable 6 months observing, documenting, and conducting really painful conversations. Sometimes I was actually successful in having the teacher removed.
But, the stress was awful and it wrecked my culture.
Over the years, I’ve learned to do it differently.
Now, I spend more time creating the kind of culture where the best kind of teaching thrives. I engage THAT teacher in meaningful conversations that allow me to get to the root of their resistance and often, help them choose to improve. I’ve devoted my time not to get rid of the bad teacher, but to eliminate that kind of behavior period.
Best case scenario, THAT teacher chooses to change.
Worst case scenario, THAT teacher chooses to leave on his or her own.
Either way, my culture grows stronger, the rest of my staff grows more committed and focused, and my school keeps getting better.
You see, I look at THAT teacher the same way I look at THAT student. Just like I would never let THAT teacher come to my office and say that they can’t teach THOSE kids, I cannot allow myself the excuse that I cannot lead THAT teacher.
I’ve got to walk the talk.
And so do you.
If you’re interested in learning how, I want to invite you to join me for Leadership Lab. There, I’ll be showing you exactly how to support and motivate every teacher you lead – even THAT teacher.
In fact, I’ve even included a bonus session where I’ll share the Failsafe Feedback Framework a fantastic tool for having difficult conversations with teachers about those non-instructional issues THAT teacher specializes in – like not submitting lesson plans, refusing to implement a new initiative, or worse bullying students.
We’re keeping things small so that I can give you my personal attention and coaching throughout the 3 days. Bring your challenges with THAT teacher, and my team and I will help you develop a plan to resolve them before you leave.
You can sign up for Leadership Lab here.