Wednesday, April 15, 2009

school climate check

Have you looked around your building lately? Have you really looked carefully at your colleagues? How about listening? Have you listened to the way your colleagues speak to children? What does it feel like to go to go to your school each day? Is it energizing and inspiring? Is it a little depressing and possibly prison like?

This week, I have been a little baffled by some of the observations I have made in my building. Teachers have said horrific things to their students, things so horrible I won't even type them here. Unsure of whether it was my place to say anything or not, I knew that it was my place to advocate for that student. Since their conversation was taking place in the hallway, I merely opened the door and stood there, which for the moment, made the teacher stop her horrible tirade. The student walked off and the teacher said that he deserved every word she said and that she only wished she could tell him all of what she was thinking. In all of this, I couldn't help but wonder what exactly the student had done in the first place and where the administration was when this conversation was happening.

So many of the teachers in my building are struggling with behavior issues ( both their own issues and the behavior of the students). One perfectly awesome and excellent teacher who I admire and look up to, is considering leaving the building or leaving the profession all together. Both would be a great loss, but I understand where she is coming from when she says her kids are so needy, when she says its hard to remain calm when chaos is continually erupting all around.

Too many of our students are disrespectful to the each other and the physical school building. The same group of kids are in trouble day in and day out, and if they are not in specific trouble, they are simply allowed to wander around the hallways, doing whatever they please. Students don't seem to care that trash is all over the cafeteria or that they themselves are the reason for that.

I feel this overwhelming desire to make things better, to help my colleagues. To improve the school. I want to change the climate in the building. I feel like I should be doing more, but I am struggling to keep up with my students and meet all of their needs to the best of my ability. How could I help, what time would I help with , and what exactly would that help look like?

Maybe it is just the time of year. Maybe all of us teachers and all of our students are tired and desperately need the upcoming April vacation. But what if the issues are actually deeper than simply being tired?


  1. I read this and could feel actual tears forming in my eyes. It is unbelievably hard to feel that helpless and have no idea where to begin and no time to make the necessary changes anyway. I started writing to affect more change and reach more people, but I wonder what extra good I'm actually doing.

  2. Thanks for speaking out about this. I am inspired by your post and always so relieved to hear happy, invested teachers recognizing this important issue and taking action - especially in spite of all the important, fundamental work they're doing in the classroom everyday. And TeachEnEspanol, it's always worth the extra effort even if it's just helping a small group of people - so kudos to you, too!

    Not to plug our nonprofit organization, but we do have some resources in our blog ( and website ( that may help you take action in your classroom and motivate leadership teams. And if you want to discuss more, give me a shout. - Lauren