Administration Should Be Like the "Pit Crew"

Recently, I talked with a close friend who is a teacher in a local public school.  She discussed budget cuts and all of the things happening that have made the classroom a bit stressful, and then she threw out something I've heard before:

“The toughest things about cutting back is that some administrative positions are just unnecessary and have been made for people who can do nothing else.  Here we are cutting a hundred dollars here and there and these one or two people represent at least 60,000 a piece and offer no direct benefit to the classroom.”

To me, times are lean and mean.  The classroom should be like a well maintained car and administration should be like the pit crew.  They should give the classroom the tools they need, encouragement, a mission, and quick “pit stops” to improve and keep them going.

What is happening instead is that some of the pit crew are opening up the trunk and piling in lead weights.  Others are siphoning off gas as teacher time and energy is wasted on side issues not important to the classroom.

Paperwork to be written but never read.

Time in meetings that are meaningless.

My friend was telling me about a particular position called the “Administrator of Community Involvement.”  This administrator plans 1 hour sessions in the gym every Thursday for 1600 high school students who listen to a person in the community talk about their job.  All of this, while the teachers confiscate cell phones and “shush” students who cannot hear because of the pitiful PA system.

Last week, the person who spoke had a tiny little tv and dvd that couldn't be seen or heard.

In my humble opinion, this administrator is hurting the cause they are to support.  All of the teachers know it, but if they don't have the assemblies, why should this person have a job?

This is a position that is piling lead weight in the trunk of the car, taking kids out of the classroom, and frustrating teachers who need to get things done and siphoning their energy.

We must be efficient and lean.  That is one thing we almost do too well at our school – sometimes we are lean to a fault.  Our part time curriculum director works full time anyway.  Every person is so necessary that they do the jobs of at least a person and a half.

And yet, there are always those who are taking up space… at every school.

If you're not helping the cause of education, you're hurting it.  And with times being tough, those who count themselves leaders need to take a hard look at their own rolls when asking teachers to make cuts.  For, to ask teachers to make sacrifices when you aren't willing is unfair and breeds contempt.

Being a general manager in business previously, administrators don't want to cut a position because they fear they will never get it back.  However, great benefits come from having flatter, leaner organizations and if you're asking teachers to do more with less, so can you.

Take a hard look at the pit crew — are they equipping and helping the classroom improve or siphoning off energy and weighing it down.  Ask the teachers, they'll tell you, that is if you REALLY want to know.

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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2 comments

Nic Mobbs September 22, 2008 - 3:56 am

What a great analogy. At the start of the year admin here compared themselves to the road service guys and said if we needed tuning up they’d be the ones to tow us off the road and out of the way of those getting on with the job. I much prefer your version!

Penelope September 27, 2008 - 8:31 pm

I completely agree with this! We have been getting dire-sounding emails from our superintendent about cuts and possible ways to deal with it, and yet you could probably cut 1/3 of the people that work at the central office. So many of them just push paper all day.

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