Staffing Changes, Moving on in Life - June Challenge

Since I am running out of ideas for posts, Larry suggested I write about a staff change that was a real challenge for me. All staffing changes are a challenge.

Something that affected me more than I thought it would is when a staff member leaves. Teachers/staff leave for a variety of reasons and it is beyond my control. Some choose to stay at home with new babies (I always hope they will want to come back.) Some transfer to another building/age group. Some make career changes. Retirement. Regardless of the reasons, when I became a principal I didn't think anyone would ever leave my building. The first year was such a whirlwind that I hardly remember what happened. After that each departure affected me in a different way.

When we hire teachers we hope they are here to stay. We ask the question, "Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?" and we hope it's with us. Unfortunately there are no guarantees. Even the teachers in the interview think they are here to stay, but life happens. I mean seriously, am I going to say, "I would rather you not retire until I retire." or "Your baby will be fine. You need to teach a few more years with me." Those comments would not win me any points I am sure!

Unfortunately we spend more time at work than we do with our own family and our co-workers become our 2nd family. We invest a lot of time in each other and it is hard when there is a "break-up" for lack of a better term:) Most of the teachers and staff who have left my building have stayed in touch and/or I see them very often. It is like a family reunion when a former teacher or staff member comes back for a visit.

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  1. The question that I continue to evaluate is how well does our evaluation process (and tools) reflect our desire to focus on building a partnership for a considerable length of time.

    Do our practices reflect a desire to grow and grow with the teacher/staff member? Are we punitive in our approach or are we focused on doing all that is possible to ensure success? How much time and opportunities do we provide to ensure with the great possibility success?

    It is difficult to go different directions with teacher/staff that are not working within the community as a whole. While going different directions is a reality, it is even more difficult to invest everything we have to ensuring that different paths are a time of bitter sweet celebration not relief and frustration.

  2. Hi George. Recruitment of teachers is quite different here in South Australia (at least in public schools). A teacher is taken on with a limited tenure - usually between 7 & 10 years and then they move on or, if it is advertised, apply for their job. However, most jobs are not advertised and teachers are "placed" in positions. We also have an unusual setup where once teachers finish their tenure they usually spend 4 years (a year at 4 different schools) before they are placed in another tenured position. Principals here are used to a lot of movement!

  3. Last year I left a school I had been a part of for six years. I was offered a great opportunity to open a new school and focus more on areas w/in education I currently enjoy. The decision to switch school on the basis of content and coaching was a no-brainer. But the relationships I had formed during my six years made the choice extremely hard. I try my best to stay in contact with those relationships and will continue to do so. Many of those relationships have helped me become the type of educator that I am. I like your idea of family reunions, that's how I regard many I have worked with in the past.

  4. Do you know the primary reason teachers are leaving?

    Are they staying home? Switching districts? Moving out of town? Changing careers?

    The number of teachers leaving the profession within the first five years of their career is continuing to increase. This is something that needs to be addressed!