Chapter Six: Teachers, Administrators, and the School System


  1. Obtain an age profile for teachers in your province and, if possible, data on attrition rates from teaching. What estimates might you make of the numbers of teachers who might be leaving teaching in the next five to ten years? What factors might change teachers’ plans to retire or leave teaching?
  2. Discuss ways in which Canada might address the shortage of teachers in some geographical areas and subject specializations.
  3. Are schools overly bureaucratic? Use examples to create a debate that argues for both possible responses.
  4. Interview one or two teachers. Ask them to identify the best and worst aspects of teaching. Ask about differences in the various schools in which they may have taught. What conclusions can you draw from their comments?
  5. Observe the work of the principal in the school in which you are student teaching or observing. How often is the principal in classrooms? What does he or she do while there? What sort of communication does the principal have with teachers? What is the primary content of these communications? As you see it, what is the principal trying to accomplish in the school?
  6. Find out how teachers are hired in a local school district. Are all jobs advertised? How many people are interviewed? Who does the interviewing? Who makes final decisions about hiring? Who else is involved in hiring decisions?
  7. Find out what provisions, if any, are made to induct new teachers into a local school or district.
  8. Do a brief write-up of professional development activities, either in the school as a whole or as practised by one or two teachers. In what activities do people participate? How useful do they seem to be?
  9. Obtain a copy of the teacher-evaluation policy in a local school or district. To what extent does it embody the traditional model described in this chapter? What other features does it have?
  10. Try to obtain the written judgment of an arbitration proceeding over teacher dismissal. What arguments and evidence were advanced for and against dismissal? Which arguments appear to have been most successful? What grounds did the arbitrator use in arriving at a decision?
  11. Obtain the list of school administrators from a local school district. Compare the numbers of men and women at each level. How have these proportions changed over the last 10 years? What gender issues, if any, have you noticed or experienced occurring in schools?
  12. Ask the provincial teachers’ association or society whether any school districts in your province have employment equity or affirmative action plans. Obtain a copy of such a plan if you can. What are its central features? What impact do you think such a plan will have? Why?