Culture is king. Schools leap forward or jump back due to a positive or negative culture. This culture is built on creating positive, strong, long-lasting relationships. It is difficult to build these strong relationships when staff is moved around and in and out of the school every year. This is especially true in Special Education where students thrive on the connections they make with their Psychologist, Speech Pathologist, and Counselor.
It’s about people, not programs.
As a former music teacher, I understand how to build programs. Many years ago, I was tasked with building an instrumental program at the middle school level. I understood that while instructional mastery was important, my students didn’t sign up for my class time and time again just because I taught them how to play an instrument. They signed up because they liked me. I mixed in Ozzy Osborne with Mozart, The Beatles with Chopin, and AC/DC with Bach. I created a fun environment for my students to learn and thrive in. After a few years, I achieved one of the most important elements for a successful school program: My students trusted me. They felt comfortable confiding in me and sought out my advice. They signed up for my class in droves. I left that school many years later to become an administrator. Afterwards, the music program had three different teachers in five years. Student enrollment plummeted. I don’t believe that I was a better instructor than my successors. However, I did create a consistent, inviting, and fun culture that they loved that couldn’t be recreated.
Playing musical chairs with staff every year at a school impedes the ability for the school to create and maintain a positive, connected culture. While I believe that music education is important, there are more pressing programs that are being affected by this game. This movement creates unpredictable schools and makes relationships impossible to nurture. Trust can’t be build. In that absence of trust, students will fall through the cracks.
Let’s stop playing musical chairs with our schools.
Dr. David Franklin is an experienced school administrator, education professor, curriculum designer, and presenter. Dr. Franklin has presented at national and international education conferences as is available for school and district professional development sessions.