Monday, 6 June 2016

Teacher mindset vs Management mindset

Rose coloured glasses (c) Leslie Taylor
As a student in teacher's college, I've learned about the good and the bad of education. I've been inspired by the great changes in education that are happening, and felt blessed that I have been given the chance to work in such a field where I can make a huge, positive impact on a student's life. I have also been reminded daily of the less sunny side of education, like the systemic racism around special education labeling that is the result of societal racism.

Dear stock photo: where's my photo of classroom diversity? 

A big proponent to teacher education is the philosophy that if something is not working for a student, it's not the student's fault, it's the teacher's. If a student's not getting it, is bored, or is disengaged, it's the teacher who needs to reevaluate what they are doing in the classroom. The student is not broken or bad, the classroom environment is just not right at the moment. It is up to the teacher to find a better fit. I believe this wonderful worldview will make such a big difference to students especially since they are legally required to be in school during such powerful formative years.

I work as a waiter part-time, and during a conversation with my boss, I was reminded that this philosophy sadly does not live in many places outside of the school yard, especially not in the workplace. From my experience in the workplace, it seems to me that unless it's a company with a strong union (read: it's hard to fire people, so you're "stuck" with your less-than-motivated employees, in the same way that teachers are "stuck" with unmotivated students), any problems of underperformance will be blamed on the employee and the employee with be fired as a result. I would think that if your company has a very high employee turnover and you, as management, are consistently unsatisfied with the work done by your employees, you might begin to wonder if the problem lies in how your system operates. You've gotta realize that it's a two-way street, a relationship between management and employee, and the problem can't always be only one sided and all the subordinate's fault.

Sadly this is not the case at my place of employment. I often think that my boss sees himself running a completely different restaurant in his head, an AU restaurant, where everything runs smoothly and he swims in a pool of cash a la Scrooge McDuck. It seems to me that he thinks that he is somehow being cheated out of business, that it's not his fault his restaurant is not constantly full, it's his staff or the public's fault. Like the education system, my workplace is also home to some racism, but with much less effort to hide it or "solve it" using delicately worded policies. Workplace racism is "justified" because it is linked to the business' ability to make money, and thus remain a place of business.

(p.s. I totally know I didn't touch on another teacher's college buzzword: "differentiated learning". That could be a topic for another week's post. The concept of differentiated learning seems to totally go out the window when you leave school and enter the workplace. Sadly, the likelihood management is ever going to take more time to try to teach you in a different way because the way they taught you the first time wasn't conducive to your learning style is so slim you should consider yourself unemployed.)

Let me know down below: Have you ever worked at a job where your manager blamed their staff, not their management style, when a problem arose? Were you ever fired from a job for a totally unfair reason or had a boss that you thought was working in a completely different universe than you were?


  1. That makes a lot of sense!

    1. Thanks rlo! I think so too, haha. There is so much effort made in Teacher's College to make systemic change, but it's disheartening to know that any chance we make in the schools is not going to be reflected in the real business world.