In my hypothetical plan to improve the district I used to work in, the number one priority is to be nicer. Yes, I know that sounds simplistic, but when everyone is rude and grouchy - the custodians, the principals, the HR clerks, the sub coordinator, the lunch ladies - it really wears on you. A big, big part of why a lot of teachers leave is the simple lack of human decency.
Now, I hope that has changed. I haven't worked there in several years and I really really hope that is not longer true. But just in case it still is true, here are some tips:
1. The person in charge of subbing shouldn't get to call and yell (and yes, I mean yell) at subs who get sick.
2. The person in charge of special ed shouldn't get to yell at a mother and tell her that it's her fault her child is emotionally disturbed, when the mother is doing everything she can to help.
3. The HR people shouldn't be perpetually scowling and actually snatch documents out of your hands.
4. Teachers shouldn't spit at the feet of an administrator, no matter how upset they are.
5. Being appreciated on Teacher Appreciation Day is nice. Telling the public you're appreciating teachers when you're not... not as nice.
6. Don't treat teachers like children. Ever. Unless you want them to act like children.
7. If you tell people you're going to pay them more for working longer, then you need to do just that.
8. Don't treat people badly when they've just had a family tragedy
9. How about you don't call me ornery just because I said something isn't true. And was right.
10. If you say you'll write me a letter of recommendation, do it. If you aren't going to, don't say you will.
11. If a brand-new teacher asks where her classroom is, and you're the principal, don't say you're too busy to show her. The day before school starts.
12. If you're in charge of school supplies and you don't have enough, don't try to act like the teacher is an idiot for asking for scissors.
11. Do not, I repeat, do not, spend a teacher's entire first year of teaching saying that you can have her job any time you want. Or that everyone should dust off their resumes. This is not motivating. Nor is it nice.
Sadly, I have so many more examples. SO MANY MORE. I don't want to ignore all the wonderful people who did help and who were supportive, but when the entire infrastructure of the district is so... not nice... even the incredible people who went above and beyond and helped me, donated, worked with me, prayed for me are not enough to keep people in the district.
Therefore, my number one change I'd make to the district would be to mandate niceness. Custodians, superintendents, teachers, principals, district personnel: all of them would have to treat their coworkers, superiors, and subordinates the way they would want to be treated. Think of all the amazing teachers who wouldn't have left because they were tired of being abused.
Four years ago: Oh Dear
Five years ago: Kindergartners