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may then be prepared and placed in the hands of the teachers. They are required to answer these questions in writing in advance of the meeting. Some of the answers may be read and made the basis of discussion. They are all given to the superintendent, who goes over them with care and indicates by notations wherein the teacher fails to grasp the problem, and perhaps indicating some article or book that his wide range of reading leads him to think will be helpful to the teacher. In the small school system, it is possible and desirable to have these meetings partake of the nature of the conference in which the presentation of some topic or the subject-matter called for in the course of study is given consideration. In these gatherings, the teachers should be made to feel perfectly free to express their opinions. The superintendent needs to guard against two things. He must not mistake the criticisms offered as personal matters when they are intended only to apply to his plan, nor must he allow the trend of discussion to get out of his control. These meetings frequently give the superintendent an insight into the perverted philosophy of a teacher that it would be impossible for him to get in a more formal meeting, and which he might not discover in several visits to the classroom. In these conferences, the superintendent will find that the teachers of the first group will be able to render material assistance. The number of these meetings that are handled by the superintendent in person will depend on the size of the system and its organization.
In closing this discussion, let us again refer to the individual conference with teachers of which we do not make enough. These interviews may be made an opportunity for indicating to the teacher helpful literature to be read by him and discussed later with the superintendent. This practice gives a purpose to the teacher's reading that is frequently lacking in the general reading. We need to make a fuller application of the policy of the successful life insurance agent who does not attempt to sell life insurance en masse. These personal conferences should be made occasions for the fullest and freest of helpful criticism. Too frequently we make the serious mistake of not telling teachers plainly wherein they are failing, and showing them how to improve. A supervisor need have no fear of talking with absolute frankness to teachers of their weaknesses when they realize that he intends to treat them with fairness and when they know that the interest of supervisor and teacher lie in the same direction. The superintendent who because of his ardent desire to have things running smoothly neglects to face weak teachers with their failings makes a serious mistake. So common an error is this on the part of the supervisors, that it seems a good custom to have the supervisors of special subjects hand to the superintendent written statements regarding the work of each teacher under his supervision, so that where adequate progress is not being made by a teacher, arrangements may be made for a meeting of teacher, supervisor, and superintendent. Frequently this method results in a marked improvement on the part of the teacher. It has a further value, in that it shows the supervisor the necessity of candor in discussing work with teachers, and results in a marked diminution of the occasions for the superintendent taking part in such cases. It is well, in case of serious failure on the part of the teacher, to have a written statement by the supervisor, of the criticisms that have been offered, accompany the general estimate of the teacher's work. At the bottom of the failure to discuss frankly with teachers the respects in which they are failing lies the fear of hurting their feelings. The teacher who is worth while is not only glad to receive criticisms, but seeks them when they are given with candor and sincerity.
These methods, joined with loyal support of teachers on the part of the superintendent because the teacher who is good enough to keep in the system is good enough to support, will secure unity of ideals and purposes as far as such unity is desirable, leave sufficient latitude for the exercise of the teacher's originality, and free the school system from the working at cross-purposes that sometimes characterizes it. As is readily seen, to carry out this plan means that the superintendent must be free to spend much of his time in visitation and not attempt to supervise at long range.
C. AS GAINED FROM SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION
MRS. SARAH E. HYRE, MEMBER OF THE SCHOOL BOARD, CLEVELAND, OHIO The subject which the chairman of this department has given me is so large and my time so short that I shall have to confine myself strictly to the assigned subdivision.
My own experience and observation as a teacher, parent, and member of the Cleveland Board of Education for the past six years, during which time I have had intimate association with the teacher and public, lead me to say that the administrative work of a board of education may aid in securing "Unity of Ideals and Purposes" in teachers in the following ways:
1. By establishing in the minds of teachers and the public this fact—that each and every official act always receives thoro and just consideration by the board members, according to the best information obtainable and based upon the merits of the question under discussion.
2. By giving thought to questions of public education so that legislation affecting the teacher's work and welfare of the child will show intelligent study of these matters by board members as well as some knowledge of the great responsibility of the teacher, and a material appreciation of the profession of teaching, fitted to rank with other professions.
3. By encouraging and promoting ways and means for bringing the community nearer to the teacher and into closer touch with the great problems of the public school.
The young teacher graduated from normal school, imbued and inspired by her study of the philosophy and history of education, carrying with her the high ideals of the profession she has chosen, believing that all the world must pay honor to her calling, is employed in some school system by a school board and is assigned to a building. Around her she sees silent, patient, plodding, faithful teachers. The principal is wise and discreet. Most of them had been there for years and thru those years the changes that had come led them to believe that the school boards, which had come and gone, possessed little knowledge of the teacher's work and the demands upon her in the interest of the child.
They had observed that the places occupied by these honorable members, in many cases, were used as stepping-stones to higher political honors, or to some personal advantage. They had naturally concluded, after watching the combinations which for years had worked to the advantage of everybody else but the child and teacher, that "pull," not merit, that "schemes" as well as "ideals" must form a part of their service, which they render for that meager salary which is generally less than that paid to the clerk or typewriter or bookkeeper in a reliable business house.
Is it strange that teachers under these conditions lack faith in those who administer the system and that they soon impart it to the new teacher? Is it any wonder that the confidence of this young teacher should be disturbed? That the faith which she had acquired during her normal course in her teachers, in her profession, in the splendid work of the public schools as she had conceived it, should have been shaken?
There are grand and noble teachers whose minds and hearts are so poised that no influence, however great, can turn them from their high ideals and purposes, but most of them are like the rest of us, simply human, and are affected by the standards and examples which those in authority set for them.
It is not that a board of education must enact legislation which is agreeable to the teacher, nor that it must canvass the views of teachers upon questions of administration, but in my judgment, it is necessary and vital to a unity of ideals and purposes in teachers that they shall believe that, whatever the action of their administrative board may have been, it was true to a conviction and inspired by a desire upon the part of the board members to do the best thing possible for the schools.
A board of education must make its rules and regulations governing groups of teachers uniform. There must be no discrimination. Equity must mark every official act of privilege and salary, if confidence in the administrative board is to inspire the teacher.
I once heard an able and scholarly teacher, who was an authority upon educational topics, say:
I do not always agree with a certain member of our board. I would not always vote as that member does if I were in the same position, but I believe in the honesty of purpose of that member, and his desire to do the best thing for the schools, and such a one can always be trusted to finally come to a proper solution of school problems.
My own experience leads me to say that teachers are reasonable, that by the nature of their work they are patient with those who err in judgment, so long as integrity is manifest, but the ideals of the teacher are easily disturbed when confidence is shattered.
Most boards of education do the best that they know; the trouble is that the average board is not equipped to decide educational questions.
In some localities members are elected to the board because they are politically ambitious and deserve recognition and there is no other place where the party can locate them.
And then there is another type of school board which has numbers of good people on it who are capable business and professional men, but are not prepared to analyze the serious problem of educating children. They have made a great success in their business or profession, but they have never given more than a passing thought to the schools. At a state meeting of school-board members, a teacher was reading a paper and referred to "elementary,' grade,” and “secondary" schools. A newly elected member turned to me and asked, "What does he mean by ‘elementary,' 'grade,' and 'secondary'?” The tendency of school boards is to undervalue the work of the teacher.
It is not a studied or intentional lack of appreciation, but simply a lack of knowledge as to the years of preparation a teacher must undergo, and the responsibility which said teacher must assume in the schoolroom.
If a member is an employer of labor including clerical people, he is likely to rate the teacher's work by the hours he puts in and the wages the employer pays his people, contrasting the hours of work for his office force from 8 A.M. to 5 P.M. with those of the teacher from 8:30 A.M. to 3 P.M. It is often hard for him to see why he should pay his bookkeeper $100.00 for eight hours' work for six days a week, and then vote one hundred and fifty dollars salary per month for a teacher who teaches high-school pupils from five to five and one-half hours a day for five days a week. We ought not to be too hard upon these members. It is the commercial viewpoint, but honest as it may be, it nevertheless works havoc with the "Unity of Ideals and Purposes" of the teaching force.
Teachers who enter upon their work equipped for it must spend as many years of hard work and expend as much money as is required to prepare for law, medicine, or the ministry, and yet the dignity of "profession" is denied the calling and it is looked upon as just "school-teaching," an "easy job."
Until men and women engaged in teaching shall combine to have their work recognized as a profession, until boards of education and the community shall look upon teaching as something more than an easy way of earning money out of the public treasury, the ideals and purposes of teachers are bound to be a fluctuating quantity.
I am one of those who believe that teachers place efficiency of their work before its money value, that their first concern is the child and what they can do for him, but again teachers are just human, and must provide for the necessities of life. Many of them must support families. They must dress well and must seek means of professional improvement in up-to-date methods, as no other profession requires. The teacher is not only charged with the duty of imparting knowledge to the child, but is expected to fill in where the home fails. There is not an hour in the day in which the successful teacher is not adding to the moral, civic, and social development of the pupil.
The state and the nation look to the home and public school for its citizenship. The home may fail to do its duty, but the public schools dare not falter in their purpose if this nation is to be permanent.
The representatives of government at Washington, coming from all parts of the country, are not sufficiently impressed with the importance of the public schools and their administration, nor the responsibility of the teacher in the making of American citizens, or else they would have given before this to the National Department of Education a suitable building and equipment and an endowment fund for research work. This act alone would impress local boards of education with the dignity of teaching as a profession, thereby helping the teacher to maintain the ideals which he acquired during his years of training. It reflects no discredit upon any person elected to a board of education that he is not an expert upon pedagogy or is not familiar with questions of public education, but being elected, it is his most sacred duty to inform himself and to seek the councils of those who think and write upon these subjects, in order that he may give intelligent support to the superintendent in the carrying-out of his policies. If research work could be conducted by the National Department of Education and reports furnished free, it would place at the disposal of boards everywhere statistics and facts which would keep them in touch with educational progress and would qualify them to enact such school legislation as would best suit the needs of their respective communities.
It would help them to realize, as few boards do, that the teacher's real work is the making of citizens who shall have acquired not only a certain amount of knowledge, but other training which will make of them trustworthy, self-sustaining members of society.
If we are to have unity of ideals and purposes in teachers, we must have unity of ideals and purposes in boards of education, who will make the teacher comfortable in the thought that he earns every dollar that he gets and many more than the local board is able to pay him, and that his calling is the noblest profession of all.
But even if boards of education were made up of ideal members fully qualified for their responsibilities, there is still another element that must be placated—the public.
No board of education, nor any other board elected by the popular vote, can go much faster than it can carry the people—the taxpayers—along with it.
If bonds are to be issued to build fireproof, modern buildings, if money is to be put into remodeling and renewing old buildings in order to make then light, attractive, sanitary, if up-to-date seats are to supplant the badly adjusted ones; if new machinery for heating and ventilating is to take the place of the old inadequate equipment, then the taxpayer must be convinced that these things are necessary to the health and welfare of those confined in the schoolroom.
If money is spent for the medical inspection of every child in the system for defects which retard his development and hinder the work of the teacher, the taxpayer must be made to realize the benefits to accrue to the child from such inspection.
If thousands of dollars are expended each year for soap and towels in the various buildings, then the taxpayer must believe in the civilizing influence of soap and water.
If special schools for backward and defective children, separate schools for deaf, for blind, for crippled and tuberculous children are maintained out of the overburdened contingent fund, then indeed must the taxpayer know not only of the benefits that will come to the children so afflicted, but of the relief that will come to the normal child and the teacher.
In other words, a board must not only educate itself upon these points, but it must educate the public as well. If the profession of teaching is ever to receive proper financial recognition, commensurate with the years of preparation and responsibilities which it implies, parents must know the teacher at first hand, they must understand that the teacher of their child is a co-partner with themselves in the making of his 'character and the upbuilding of his manhood.
The Cleveland Board of Education has found that there is no better way of interesting the parents in the school problems of the city than thru the use of its buildings for free lectures and entertainments. This year, 1910 and 1911, more than two hundred are
scheduled, to which parents and patrons are invited by card. There are also about forty mothers' clubs in connection with the different elementary schools, to which speakers go upon invitation to explain any proposed innovations in school plans.
The use of school auditoriums for community meetings cannot help but bring the parent closer to the teacher. Discussions of public welfare, of patriotism and topics related to the home and school will arouse in any city a keener interest in school problems, and will bring a heartier support to the administrative board. In conclusion I want to say that it is my belief that with mutual professional confidence between boards of education and the teachers they employ, with closer relations between parents and teachers, with an intelligent understanding and co-operation between the community and its elected representatives, there can be no doubt but that an administrative board which lives up to its responsibilities may be a great aid in securing "Unity of Ideals and Purposes" in the teachers they employ.