I’ve mentioned the Boss Lady and my avoidance of her, so I guess I should explain my feelings. We’re very different people, and we approach the same issues from opposing viewpoints. Here are my (biased?) perceptions based on my observations and experiences.
First, I believe high school students and staff should be given trust until that trust is broken. I treat everyone as having a clean slate and freely trust until I have a reason to be suspicious. I believe in the inherent goodness of the individual and that giving responsibility to people helps them grow.
However, the Boss Lady seems to begin with a belief that everyone should be viewed as a threat to her power. Questioning a policy for clarification or suggesting an alternate path is seen as a challenge to her authority. I get the sense that she is somewhat insecure, so she has paranoid, defensive responses to questions and suggestions. Her posture becomes aggressive, her countenance hardens, and her answers become terse. She must make all decisions and must be a part of every committee or discussion.
Secondly, I don’t believe the Boss Lady understands my job. At all. I teach English, which is a discipline I describe as non-linear. Skills come from many directions at once and are combined and synthesized all at once. English does not work like math, the subject she taught. English does not always work linearly like algebra (to which she compares English). It’s just a different way to think.
She wants to restructure English by eliminating the honors classes, ELL courses (non-English speakers), and some special ed courses by putting everyone in the same courses. We would lose everything created–with community support and involvement–in the last 20 years. When the community gets wind of this, they will explode.
Thirdly, the Boss Lady was caught calling our department derogatory names after we explained how her restructuring ideas would destroy our programs. She openly complained to a support staffer in the library that the “whiners” in English are just “selfish.” I don’t think calling us names to anyone is acceptable, especially to one of the non-teaching staff in the building who must work with us.
I don’t believe she respects the vast majority of the staff. I feel patronized by her and feel that she only respects those who follow her without question. Having worked with her one-on-one, in small groups, and with the entire staff, I feel I have a good grasp of how she views us.
I don’t think she is evil, the Dark Side using the Force to conquer the universe, but I do think her paranoid defensiveness and callousness make her ineffective. In my nine years here, this is the most divided the staff has ever been, and we are viewed as a dysfunctional school by the district office. It didn’t used to be so.
Since I am in a new union position I hope she and I will be able to work together effectively, and I want to believe she will be more effective uniting the staff. She was quite cheery when I ran into her today. Unfortunately, my hope is not the same as confidence.
P.S. Our bond failed.