As a 21st century school leader, how do you cultivate using "good judgment" in your staff when making curricular decisions and decisions about media to be used in the classroom? I recently stumbled across this article, "Wando Teacher Resigns, Ending Appeal in Jackass 2 Incident." While the article obviously provides only the bare minimum details about the incident, so I an a bit hesitant to judge the teacher, it does prompt me as a school leader to ask this question regarding fostering the use of "good judgment" in teachers and staff.
The teacher in this article made the decision to show portions of the movie "Jackass 2" to his students. According to the teacher's appeal, he admitted that he had not previewed the movie and he was only "generally aware of its content." From the news story, my impression is there seems to be no doubt that the teacher was an effective teacher, and gathering from the reasons for his resignation, it would seem some students seemed to support him. The problem is in this case: one error in judgment ruined a career. During my 20+ years as an educator I have seen this same scenario happen more than a dozen times.
So, what can a 21st century school leader do to inoculate our teachers from making these kinds of career-destroying decisions? When it comes to making decisions regarding what kinds of media and media resources to use in their classrooms, what do we tell young teachers when they come on board? It is a sad thing to see a career destroyed by a momentary lapse in judgment. The parent part of me says, "They should have known better." Perhaps they should have, but as a school leader, do I not also have a responsibility to cultivate the "use of good judgment" in those under my charge? The classroom teacher in me hates to see a promising career destroyed by these kinds of incidents, but at some point teachers, like kids grow up, and they do sometimes make decisions that are quite painful. Like the parents we've all had, we can't protect those same promising teachers from their decisions. However, that doesn't make it any easier.