The Gotcha Game

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June 25, 2013 by Brad Currie


The following blog post was co-written with Starr Sackstein who is a connected educator from the great state of New York. 


Lurking behind doors, hiding in dark places, your administrators wait to catch you…  Or are they?


Often, teachers feel as if administrators aren’t interested in helping them succeed or improve but instead are looking to catch them doing something wrong. What if we could change that impression/practice? What if we could rely on our administrators to visit/observe often, provide immediate and meaningful feedback, set goals and follow up all the time? What if our administration wants us to succeed?


How might that change a hostile environment?


A school will never function well if teachers are afraid to approach their leaders and leaders lack communication skills to improve their staff. It is important for leader and teachers to feel like they have each other’s backs.


We must foster communication on all fronts, inviting administrators into our rooms, offering the white flag so we can all grow together.


Advice for teachers from Administration

Advice for Administration from teachers

Invite administration into your classrooms often. They love to see the engaging learning activities that students are immersed in on a daily basis.

Visit teacher’s classrooms often – not necessarily full periods, but long enough to see

Promote student accomplishments and leverage the power of technology as a way to inform stakeholders of all the great learning experiences happening in the classroom.

Take interest in the assignments students are doing, talk to them about their learning in our classes

Utilize feedback in a way that will put student’s in a position to succeed and truly be excited about the content being taught.

Give us specific feedback about our lessons; not just content, but delivery and rapport

Respond to calendar invites for all facets of the observation process in a timely fashion.

Meet with us within 24 hours of an observation

Feel free to provide insight on challenges that you are trying to overcome in the classroom setting. That way we can collaborate on implementing best practice techniques.

Always tell us why you are coming in or allow us to ask you to look for something specific

Collaborate with building leaders to make a plan and set goals.

Work with us to make a plan and set goals

We want you to try new things knowing that it may not work as we all learn from our failures.

Encourage us to try new things and praise us when we do (it’s validating when a boss does that)

Understand that healthy professional conversations are better for everyone involved.

Follow up with the plan we set together and continue to make recommendations that change as we improve

Please ask for more time to plan and collaborate. Meaningful learning experiences for students need the proper attention.

Provide us with time to reflect and plan appropriately, let us work with our peers to collaborate

Attend Edcamps and other innovative professional opportunities and know that you have our full support as you share this knowledge with colleagues.

Provide us with meaningful PD to support us in our learning (if done in-house differentiate to meet all of our varied needs)

After speaking with a fellow educator and hearing how everyone was afraid to approach their building administrator, I got to thinking. If they felt that this particular person was out to get everyone and they were constantly playing the “I Gotcha Game” even though time and again this administrator said they were not, I had to reflect on how I am viewed as a building administrator and how educators in general utilize feedback to improve each day.


People often forget that administrators are evaluated too and if we work together, we can somehow find a way to make the system work for all of us.  

How do you work with your staff/leadership to improve the school community?

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Brad Currie

Brad Currie

Brad Currie is the Middle School Dean of Students and Supervisor of Instruction for the Chester School District in Chester, NJ. He is the co-founder and co-moderator of #Satchat on Twitter. Brad is passionate educational technology and social media in the school setting.

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