'Thank You So Much' Is Not An Answer

Seth Godin writes about the ubiquitous practice by businesses of sending their customers away without solving their problems. Somewhere along the line, businesses bought into the notion that if you ‘appear to be listening’ that’s all people want anyway.

It is, of course, maddening if you are on the receiving end of this “service”. I have experienced it. Worse than this, though, is when it happens inside a business. My business is Education and I have experienced this treatment more times than I would like to admit as a teacher/curriculum specialist.

I know of an educational “leader” who responds to every conversation and e-mail with…”thank you so much”….Wait. No. I asked you a question. “thank you so much”….Wait. No..really, I need an answer about this today if possible. “thank you so much”………………..Argh!

I feel like I’ve been attacked by vapid niceness on these occasions. It is truly bizarre and it’s what many in education call “Administrator Disease”. Why is it that some Educational Leaders seem paralyzed to make or act on anything?

Really. Why is this?

Views: 13

Comment by Kelly Christopherson on January 9, 2008 at 7:58pm
First I'd like to distinguish between Educational Leaders and Educational Administrators. Educational Leaders can be any educator who is in a role of leadership in a school or district or division. They can be a teacher, consultant, specialist or administrator while Educational Administrators are those people in administration which is limited to principals, superintendents, directors, ....

Now, in three of your posts, you seem to be have quite a few concerns about the "leadership" and "Administrators" in education who really don't appear to be doing much of anything, from where you are sitting. Because I don't know the circumstances which are leading you to these posts, I can only answer from my perspective as an administrator. Now, as for this "administrator's disease" (which I've never heard called that before), I too use to question why a principal wouldn't make a decision or would seem to be ambiguous about things or not really explain the reasons for things. Then, I joined the ranks and now fully understand. The reason some administrators can't make decisions is that they usually aren't allowed to make them or, when they do, there is someone who is tearing and ripping at them. I've seen so many things in my short tenure as a principal, 8 years now, that some days I'd swear the sky outside my office is pink with little golden clouds. Having been a teacher for 10 years, I've a pretty good handle on what the world of the teacher is all about. I've been a vice-principal and, now, a principal and I've come to understand some things that use to puzzle me, like why decisions can't be made. Sometimes, they can't.
As for the whole administrator and technology thing that I've noticed as another popular theme, it is true that there are many administrators who are unsure of it or where it fits. However, it may not be because of the technology but because of the liability that is involved. See, it's usually not the consultant or the teacher that they go after but the person who allowed or okayed such things - the building administrator. Sometimes it's better to be safe than sorry. In the case of technology, there are so many unanswered questions that are out there and many people who are advising administrators are not painting the "all will be okay" picture that I have heard from many people pushing technology. There is a legal side that administrators must take into account.
Now, I happen to be an administrator that uses technology and who is very comfortable with technology, who teaches my staff how to use wikis, my students how to use netvibes, pageflakes, claimid, online desktops and other tools and who pushes for the use of online collaborative tools. However, I'm not so blind as to see the potential problems with some of the tools and the need for caution in bringing them into the schools.
You may be in a particular situation but not all administrators are the same just as all older teachers are not against using technology or all younger teachers can use technology or IT people understand the educational implications of particular technologies or all curriculum specialists understand how to differentiate/implement curriculum. Just for an added bonus, when was the last time you spent 45 minutes being cross-examined for keeping a student in at noon for throwing food? Had a rude phone call at some ridiculous time in the morning? Had your house egged? Been threatened because you're the keeper of the school and someone doesn't agree with the school policy on dress? Been blamed for a youth taking their life?
We get bashed enough by parents and the general public. It's hard to understand why another educator would continue on with such a theme. I support teachers in their teaching and know many great administrators who do the same. All is not as you see it. If you really want to see change happen, administration has many openings. We're always looking for a few good people.

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