Saturday, March 31, 2018

The English Department Faculty at Lyons Township High School Was Asked for Feedback on the Performance of an Incompetent English Department Chairman in 1991

My Letter:

The English Department Chairman has not inspired trust or developed a sincere rapport among most of the English Department teachers and himself but continues to alienate many members of the department. Both students and teachers also fear reprisal for their honesty about this situation.

The English Department Chairman does not exhibit openness and humaneness in dealing with many members of the department but shows a penchant for vindictiveness and hypocrisy; he is not adept at treating members of the department fairly; teachers who speak out against his policies believe they are in jeopardy, especially in the scheduling of classes.

The English Department Chairman uses a win/lose strategy when attempting to resolve conflicts with department members: “I am the department chairman and you will…” He shows little tact, diplomacy and discretion in dealing with many of the department members.

The English Department Chairman does not involve teachers fully in the decisions related to their work; he makes unilateral decisions regarding the Freshman Honors Program, the Senior Research Project, for instance, and imposes textbook choices and revamps some courses without input. He ignores the fact that the acceptance of any decision by members of the department is critical to its implementation; efforts that have been made in the past on significant issues in the department are disregarded or forgotten.

The English Department Chairman does not listen to or give precedence to differing opinions or ideas unless they are congruent with his own; the minutes from the department meetings are sketchy at best and often reflect only his opinions. Department meetings do not focus on substantive issues, such as the department’s direction: long and short-term goals, curriculum development, ability grouping, research requirements for students, writing across the curriculum, to name just a few. 

The English Department Chairman does not participate with teachers developing curricula; he does not appear to have an overview of the course offerings within the department or understand the course transitions from south to north campus, level to level, etcetera. He does not exhibit competence in planning, organizing and follow-through of important issues concerning the Writing Discovery Center. He is often inaccessible when important decisions need to be made.

The English Department Chairman uses evaluative procedures instead of descriptive and non-directive feedback techniques when observing members of the department, especially with new staff members. He destroys the self-esteem of the new teachers with negative and judgmental evaluations.

The English Department Chairman imposes his will on members of the department; he attempts to force change instead of making teachers the agents of change; he claims consensus of opinion based upon a minority in the department. He does not have the ability to relate effectively and empathically with faculty members with different value systems and educational philosophies. There is a perceived sense of isolation and aloofness given by him.

The English Department Chairman appears to not have thorough knowledge and understanding of all aspects of the English field, i.e., writing assessment, the broader scope of the English curriculum, the process approach to teaching composition, reading theory and research… He lacks the innovation and vision the department needs; he often refers to research jargon without showing an understanding of the integration of that research.

The English Department Chairman does not effectively implement the department’s policies and procedures; he maintains a double standard concerning department policies and procedures. He uses the department’s secretary as his own personal secretary: department requests are prioritized after his own; the department secretary types his personal correspondence, and answers the office telephone with his name instead of English Department Office. The office is no longer a center for camaraderie and formal or informal dialogue.

The English Department Chairman has not established a healthy, cooperative, and professional environment. Most of what is being accomplished in the department is done in spite of him.

The English Department Chairman has not contributed toward improving and maintaining the reputation of the English Department; instead, he promotes ill-will outside of the department and lacks sufficient respect from faculty and staff members of other departments.

The English Department Chairman does not provide the necessary educational, instructional, organizational, supervisory and administrative leadership essential for our English Department. He does not encourage an esprit for learning and good will among the department members. The morale of the department is at its worst. The climate is indifferent and cynical. There is a strong perception that the department chairman does not care about the school, its programs, its teachers and the community.