A Simple Request

What do teachers need from administrators?

Inherent in that question, I see a fundamental problem with education both in public schools and in private schools. And that is that we have created a distinction between teachers and administrators and have allowed for the acceptance of a system of hierarchies developed more on a division of labor than a recognition of competencies.

For longer than anyone can remember, the educational-industrial-complex has allowed that distinction to be the rule and in doing so we have created for the most part a system -- educational and cultural -- that fosters rule-acceptance as a virtue, jealousy as a norm, and direly energy-sapping faculty lounges as a rule while ignoring basic human competencies of love, compassion, and service of the variety that doesn't ask for something in return.

We are all hypocrites. I include myself in that category foremost. We talk about changing things, but for the most part that talk exists within the conceptual vacuum of the current system -- even when we think we're thinking outside-of-the-box. Because it's always about our arguments and our better methods and our better ideas and our better mousetraps. And while we argue over testing and technology and models of leadership and school branding, we ignore the voices of those who have the most stake in this confused system: the students.

Where are the student voices on your school board? Where are the student voices on your board of directors? Where are the student voices in your faculty meetings, your administration meetings, your parent-teacher association meetings?

And I'm not talking about the nominal "good student" who gets a nominal place at the table. I'm talking about the student body -- that community that comprises the heart of why your school exists. I'm talking about the voices of your valedictorian and lowest-ranking student alike.

And so, given the present system, what would I as a teacher -- and as a parent of three -- want from my administrators?

I'd like them to make transparent all conversations and allow student engagement in every aspect of school policy. At very least, I'd like to see every admin meeting broadcast to a schoolwide e-video channel live with a real-time backchannel inclusive to any student who wishes to participate. I'd like to see the same for all faculty meetings. I'd like to see the same for all teacher evaluations. Yes, I want students involved hands-on in teacher evaluations. I want our students to see what goes on in all of those endless meetings and I want our students to be able to respond and offer their voices, ideas, opinions, and criticisms in real-time and publicly -- no matter who they are and no matter what they have to say.

I have a simple request.

Let's cut out the hierarchy. Let's let radical open culture reign. Let's destroy fear. Let's allow new ways of thinking to create themselves.

A simple request.

Shelly Blake-Plock is a teacher and parent in Maryland. He writes the TeachPaperless.com blog and has been making crazy requests and often getting in trouble for making them for a really long time now.

Big Think Edge
  • The meaning of the word 'confidence' seems obvious. But it's not the same as self-esteem.
  • Confidence isn't just a feeling on your inside. It comes from taking action in the world.
  • Join Big Think Edge today and learn how to achieve more confidence when and where it really matters.
Big Think Edge
  • Economist Sylvia Ann Hewlett breaks down what qualities will inspire others to believe in you.
  • Here's how 300 leaders and 4,000 mid-level managers described someone with executive presence.
  • Get more deep insights like these to power your career forward. Join Big Think Edge.

'Upstreamism': Your zip code affects your health as much as genetics

Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."

Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
  • Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
  • Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
Keep reading Show less

In U.S. first, drug company faces criminal charges for distributing opioids

It marks a major shift in the government's battle against the opioid crisis.

George Frey/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • The nation's sixth-largest drug distributor is facing criminal charges related to failing to report suspicious drug orders, among other things.
  • It marks the first time a drug company has faced criminal charges for distributing opioids.
  • Since 1997, nearly 222,000 Americans have died from prescription opioids, partly thanks to unethical doctors who abuse the system.
Keep reading Show less