There seems to be a deep divide between the ideals and personalities of pre and post Bloomberg schools. The person I always came into contact with first was the principal. Most of the principals I worked with, as a permanently appointed teacher, were excellent school leaders. They were highly visable, with an open door policy. They saw their positions as leading their staffs in the facilitation of teaching. Their APs were there to directly help teachers do that. We were one team working together to help students. Rarely did I see a bad teacher; if there was one, direct intervention was implemented to help the teacher get up to par. New teachers were mentored and teamed with veteran teachers. Rarely did I see a teacher fail to achieve tenure. I did see several APs fail to make tenure because they alienated staff and/or students. This type of individual was not welcomed into our school community. Several went out into the business world. Our environment was a close working relationship between students, teachers, guidance counselors, paras, aides, APs, the principal and even the custodians. We respected one another and oft times became close friends. There were always the dynamics of gossip and negativity that is apparent wherever you have groups of people working together, but in most schools I worked, it was minimal. If an overzealous AP or an overreaching principal directive was issued the chapter leader filed a grievance immediately. We had deans and suspensions, when a student's actions warranted it. We always had oversized classes and were told to grieve it within three days and it was ALWAYS rectified. We usually had our own room. We were always asked by administration to teach six classes and were always told not to by the chapter leader, as this was seen as taking a job away from a prospective teacher or creating the need to excess one. We spent most of every June going to retirement parties and we celebrated births and weddings. Many departments went out every Friday night for dinner. I also went to my fair share of wakes and funerals for former teachers. Many teachers after retirement would come back frequently to visit or sub. We had a large staff lounge, a teacher cafeteria and parking. The students graduated and went on to work or college. Most lived nearby and would also frequently stay in touch. All and all, it was a fulfilling career where most of us were content. Only the expert teachers - the best of the best - would become APs and then if they excelled, on to become principals. These principals were respected and in many cases loved, (yes, it's true).
The past few years as an ATR I haven't really met too many principals. The few I've come across seem to be overwhelmed, as do most of the teachers. There's no real cohesiveness or much happiness. There's no teacher's cafeteria, very little space for collaboration and people don't want to answer back to a 'good morning'. No one stays too long in one school without leaving or the school closing. There are no checks and balances in place for anyone, but the teacher. There seems to be a prevailing aura of dread. Dread for the next observation, dread for the next class and dread for the next day. I heard a quote by Demetri Martin on swimming that made me think of my past and present experiences with teaching - 'Swimming is a confusing sport, because sometimes you do it for fun, and other times you do it to not die. And when I'm swimming, sometimes I'm not sure which one it is.'