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Management Leading Programs page 3

 
 

Indications of a Destructive Teacher
) Tend to isolate themselves from Department or Program Head and other faculty members.

) Begin to build a personal following among students, sometimes with other faculty members.

) Acting unilaterally in terms of going to administration to discuss program matters or faculty members.

) Failure to cooperate with others in the department or program.

) Undercutting the Department or Program Head or other faculty members.

) They are either contentious or refuse to participate in staff meetings or reviews.

Dissident faculty members are a serious problem and must be dealt with promptly once their actions are identified. A first step for the Department or Program Head is usually a consultation with the individual to discuss the problem and try to find out why this behavior is happening and resolve it. If this is not successful, address a memo to the individual describing the situation and copy to the Dean or President or other appropriate offices. If the problem persists, arrange a meeting with the individual, Department Head or Director and Dean or President to discuss the matter.

If none of the previous approaches to the problem of a dissident faculty member have worked, there is one other avenue which is extreme but it might be the only solution. If the problem is so devastating as to be advantageous to give up a faculty line rather than continue, go the Dean or President and request that the individual in question be transferred to a position outside the program. Contrary to the understanding of many faculty members, tenure does not guarantee assignment to a specific program or duty. Tenure only assures an individual of a position within the organization. Based on my own experience at several schools, the program, students, institution and myself would have benefited from taking such action.

 

Teacher Vested Interests
Revitalization of Visual Art education programs in state universities begins with restoration of teachers' vested interests. Vested interests are defined as teachers'perception of being instrumental in making the program what it is; a good program with high standards that is a source of pride. Individually and collectively, teachers feel it is their program. With a proprietary attitude, teachers assume greater responsibility. They are more likely to be productive and involved with curriculum and students. Faculty members with vested interests are usually strong proponents of educational integrity. Keys to vested interests are self-determination in program matters and resources.

How much salary teachers receive is seldom a factor in establishing a sense of vested interest. However, working relationships with administrators have a profound effect on commitment. Administrative support, recognition and encouragement can do much to reinforce teachers'vested interests. Far too often teachers who have vested interests are penalized and eventually driven out of institutions by administrators. Committed teachers want to improve the program and persistently press for changes and additional resources. Unenlightened administrators view such teachers as boat-rockers, trouble makers, or as uncooperative team players. By so doing, institutions alienate teachers they need, and retain those with less dedication to educating students. The present system often appears to reward teachers who do not fulfill their professional responsibilities but are willing to defer to administrators on educational matters.

A teacher going into a multipurpose classroom has less incentive to care about the condition of that space. A teacher using centralized shops lacks personal concern regarding maintenance or use of equipment. If a teacher is locked into curriculum content, policies or procedures established by someone else, there is little motivation to consider what changes would improve the situation. If resources do not exist for making the program better, what purpose is there in thinking about how it could be improved? Under these conditions, teaching becomes only a job and teachers' interests usually are diverted into outside activities or personal work.

Teachers require reasonable control over assigned space, how it is used and maintained. To develop facilities and enrich the program, operating budgets need to be realistic and consistently allocated from year to year. Teachers should be able to establish priorities within the budget and act without undue process or delay. Teachers want to see improvement from year to year, or vested interests will eventually diminish. Teachers need greater flexibility to make changes in their program and its operation, have more control within their area of responsibility, and be table to rely on adequate resources. Teachers want meaningful input into all aspects of their program.

Programs, or groupings of related programs, require leadership and most state university Art Departments operate as a homogeneous whole, composed of eight to fifteen separate programs of study under the leadership of a single Department Head, Director or Dean. This scarcely provides the leadership that nurtures vested interests among faculty members within individual programs.

During the period of retrenchment beginning in the late 1960s and extending to the present, there has been a steady erosion of faculty commitment to teaching. The growth of administration has led to over-management resulting in even more bureaucratic layers. Since faculty status has been downgraded from professionals working under contract to employees working on salary, there is less self-determination in educational and operational matters. Educational leadership by program has often been destroyed. Institutional resources have been diffused to areas other than instruction with a corresponding reduction of operating funds at the program level.

All of these factors contribute to poor environment and conditions for teachers. Consequently, there has been a decline of educational quality. Currently there is considerable disillusionment among seasoned faculty. Cynicism is often expressed as, This is just a job, do as little as you have to, get as much as you can, and put time and energy into your own interests and work.

 

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