By all accounts inner city schools have difficulty attracting and maintaining highly qualified teachers. Philadelphia has several incentive schools offering meaningless financial rewards should you volunteer to teach in one. 6 Teachers in my school this year are seeking transfers to schools where they at least imagine a more positive environment exists. Additionally, one teacher, Zach, after two years is resigning, feeling forced out by our school administrator. (My school is not an incentive school).
Zach is under 25, was valedictorian at his prestigious High School, is a graduate of an Ivy League University, and a highly qualified teacher. Zach did not grow up in the inner city and perhaps has had difficulty overcoming the change in environments. Zach has not yet established his teaching voice and maintaining classroom discipline has been problematic. But man can he lesson plan, and I mean that in the highest regard. The concepts he develops, the deep meaning he creates, this is the stuff great teaching is made of.
How can we force him out? This is exactly the guy inner city schools are trying to attract, so how after just two years do we force him out? Where was the necessary support from our building administrators to foster success?
The problem is we let money speak. Instead of providing the environment where teachers can teach we offer financial pittances. In other words you suffer through greater stress, develop health problems at younger ages, but don’t worry, we’ll pretend to support you. How is it the people who came with these ideas get to run schools?
We need the Zachs of this world. We need to create environments where they can teach and we need to support them when, where, and however, they need support.
Zach’s failure is not his, it is his supervisors. Zach will find another job, his supervisor will keep his, but the children have lost an irreplaceable resource in their lives. When we establish environments where Zach can succeed, then we know our students also have an opportunity for success.