“We’re not going to offer you a contract for next year.

Of all the things senior administrators are called to do, severing a relationship with a teacher is certainly among the least appealing. Perhaps that’s why every school has teachers who need to move on — it’s not usually much of a secret — and administrators who’d rather do just about anything besides making that happen.

Fraught with tension, recrimination, and just plain awkwardness, the process by which a school separates from a teacher is painful — not only for the teachers, but for administrators as well, who can feel nagging uncertainty about decisions, anxiety about the coming months, and basic human empathy for the teacher, in all likelihood a good person who has been judged and found lacking. Teaching is one of the most inherently personal jobs anybody can hold, so even knowing that “it’s not personal” doesn’t feel like less than a personal indictment.

Like most challenging situations in schools, this process can be managed in a way that minimizes hurt feelings, maintains an institution’s interests, protects the dignity of teachers, and reassures the broader community.

This one-day workshop, held early in the school year, helps administrators establish both strategy and process for teachers whose work is ineffectual, whose relationships with colleagues or parents seem intractable, or whose behavior violates community standards too often. See below for a list of topics covered.

Who The workshop is appropriate for those who make personnel decisions, including school heads and their agents, such as assistant heads, division heads, and deans of faculty. It is especially helpful to new administrators.


  • Strategic thinking around personnel (What are our goals?)
  • “Ground truth” of school cultures: What’s said and what’s not
  • Professional development vs. evaluation
  • The “one true thing” — why a relationship isn’t working
  • Teacher plans of improvement and assessment
  • Managing confrontation constructively
  • Constituencies: Who has “skin in the game”?
  • Transparency: Protecting conflicting interests
  • Fallout from personnel decision-making

Important note This workshop will look at a type of challenging situation from the perspective of experienced administrators, with a desire to care for individuals as well as a larger school community. The workshop is not intended and should not be construed as legal advice, which is a necessary — but on its own insufficient — consideration in these school situations.

Quaker House in Dupont Circle, Washington, DC.
Wednesday, September 29, 2016, 9:00 – 3:00