Archive for the ‘Professionalism’ Category

Are you taking care of your support staff?

January 29, 2009 | Professionalism | RSS 2.0

There’s a tendency for some in the military (espcially those in the combat arms like infantry or armor) to refer to support personnel (like finance or supply) as REMFs (Rear-Echelon Mother F*****rs). 

In case you couldn’t tell, it’s usually a term of derision.  The infantry volunteered to go kill the bad guys, and for some reason many feel the need to look down on those who volunteered to deliver the bullets.

If there’s one thing I learned on deployment, it’s take care of your supply guy (or girl)!  Similar to the old TV show M*A*S*H, where Radar O’Reilly worked magic to get items that the unit needed, my supply sergeant was a magician at working in (and when necessary around) the proper channels to get the equipment we needed to perform the mission.

Fast-forward to my high school – I’d have to say that most of our staff is pretty professional about things like this, but I still run into a few who treat our secretaries, custodians, aides, etc. like dirt.

That’s the wrong answer!  Those folks exist to make our jobs easier.  Imagine having to clean your classroom every day, or stuff envelopes every time a mailing is going out.   What would happend to your job satisfaction if you had to refinish the floors in the summer and shovel the walks in the winter?

A few years ago one of our students organized “Custodian Appreciation Day.”  It’s kinda sad that a student had to do it – I don’t think it ever honestly occured to any of the adults. 

Now I make it a point to have little Christmas gifts for the support folks, to give them a heartfelt “thank you” when they do their job.  Living alone, I often have leftovers when I try a new recipe.  If it’s feasible, I bring some in to share with these women and men who make my job that much easier.

What are you doing to take care of your REM…er, your support staff?


Give credit where credit is due

December 28, 2008 | Professionalism | RSS 2.0

“Credit for success belongs to everyone. Credit for failure belongs to the senior man present.”
Always Forward Principles of Command Philosophy
(1st Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment)

I heard it said when I was a student, and I heard it come out of my mouth as a teacher…something along the lines of “I taught this (twice!) and most of the class still failed the test!”

It took me awhile to realize that if that’s the case, I didn’t actually teach the material.  I may have presented it, I may have come up with great lesson plans, but in the end if learning didn’t occur, then neither did teaching…and teaching is my responsibility.

Just like most privates are going to find ways to get themselves into trouble without good NCO supervision, most students are going to have (to them) more important things to deal with than school.  It’s our job to find ways over, around, and through those obstacles to make sure that learning occurs.

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Be Apolitical (at least officially)

December 27, 2008 | Professionalism | RSS 2.0

OK – this is a little late, but I’m not waiting four years until the next election to talk about this.  Service members aren’t supposed to be political, at least not in their official capacity.  Sure, we would talk politics while eating or cleaning weapons, but you would never hear an NCO or officer telling people under his command who to vote for.  We weren’t even supposed to show up at a political rally in uniform, lest we give the appearance that the military was endorsing a certain candidate.

Teachers should be the same way.

Of course an election is an important time for teachers to discuss our political system and the related concepts.  I’m even ok with teachers responding individually to questions about why they are voting they way they do.  But what this woman does is ridiculously over the line.  In situations of opinion, students should feel free to voice theirs without being told essentially that they are idiots.

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