Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Buddha in the Classroom

This was sent in an email to staff, expats of Murry Bergtraum and the Chancellor.

As our PD the last two weeks has told us- greet students with unconditional positive regard. Don't punish, but look at yourself. See how you can grow together to a better relationship. After all, discipline is about relationships and compassion, not punishments. I agree wholeheartedly. 

The problem is that Buddhist philosophy doesn't pass muster at the Principal's Leadership Academy. Machiavelli is the prevailing philosophy when dealing with "subordinates". Is that the message from the top as well?

The damage done is to drive cynicism even deeper in us. Below is a quote from an article about the extent of the Chancellor's Buddha nature

"The schools chancellor, who defined her first year on the job as a mission to restore “joy” and “respect” to the classroom, has, of late, been encouraging hundreds of city principals to identify and get rid of their weakest teachers. “The teachers who are not up to the job, you’ve got to get them out the door,” FariƱa said to a large group of high school principals at a conference in late February."  
If there was every effort to develop the "bad" teacher it would not be such a blatant contradiction of the Chancellor's pledge to bring "joy" back to education. But, that's not what we are hearing. It's because of the void in leadership. Type A personalities, that belong on Wall Street (to be blunt the Chancellor's way), have flocked to fill the administrative vacancies created by the explosion of small schools. They often have neither the experience or intent, to develop teachers. Their job is to fire. We have experienced that first hand at Bergtraum going on 5 years now. It's Social Darwinistic to terminate without a meaningful intervention. 

The culture of the school must be consistent from top to bottom. Everyone deserves patience, understanding, compassion and support. I would give the Chancellor the benefit of the doubt that she did extent the possible patience and support to teachers who needed it before she wrote them off. I hope she conveys to the new principals to get their Buddha nature up.


“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” Albert Einstein

John Elfrank-Dana
UFT Chapter Leader
Murry Bergtraum High School

No comments: