Down from the hill
I recently had an interesting conversation with a retired teacher that left me with a few things to think about.
I often hear that educators who put in the hard work in the classrooms with our students feel a disconnect with administrators. But the former teacher I spoke with, who had more than 20 years of service with the District, remarked, “Education always looks different when you’re in the classroom instead of being up on the 'hill.'”
The “hill” she was referring to was the central office.
Her sentiments recalled my own memories of conversations I had with my colleagues when I was a teacher. I have served at almost every level of administration -- from assistant principal to education commissioner -- but I try never to forget where I came from and see issues from a teacher's perspective.
That's why I try to come down from the 'hill' and out of my office as often as I can. I understand that we cannot see transformative change in our District unless I communicate with -- and listen to -- as many staff members as I can. Each Wednesday, I visit at least one school, take a tour, and listen to employees. I also answer as many emails and other communication as I can.
This year, we continue our commitment to ask staff members for continuous feedback. I am starting a new "Talking in the Library" series. Each month, I’ll be in the library of a school in a different performance zone, listening to the voices of our teachers, support staff and administrators. If a new program is working, I want to hear about it. If we have a problem that needs to be fixed, I want to hear about that too. I encourage you all to attend the "Talking in the Library" session when it is in your area. We'll start in December and I will post a full schedule of "Talking in the Library" meetings on this blog as soon as we have it.
As our partnership with TNTP continues, I’d also like to invite you to the first information session to discuss our new teacher evaluation system mandated by the state. It will be held at Chaparral High School, 3850 Annie Oakley Drive in Las Vegas, from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, November 14. All staff will be invited to attend. We will hold these information sessions regarding teacher evaluations via webinar and at various school sites through January. I welcome teacher input on these critical conversations, and value the insight.
Dwight D. Jones