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I am a high school English teacher in an urban high school in Oklahoma City. I am a member of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 2309. I am a Democrat, a union activist and a worker for social justice. I also am a Christian (Congregationalist). I play chess and coach our school chess team.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Organizational Health Inventory

I was not in school today, nor will I be there tomorrow.  Instead, I am in a workshop with my principal, Ms. Johnson, and fellow AFT building representative Linda Dudley going over the results and significance of the Organizational Health Inventory (OHI) that our district has done every year for the past 8 years or so. 

The OHI is a survey done by the school's teachers and administrators designed to measure how everyone feels about their working conditions, things like do we feel focused on our school's goals? do we feel empowered to reach those goals? do we feel we have enough autonomy to carry our our mission to attain our goals? and so on.  This is Ms. Johnson's first year as our principal, so she and the other first-year principals (about 18 or so) were there with each building's union reps to get the lowdown on what the survey said and what it means for us.

According to the survey, our organization health really improved over last year.  The staff were more positive in each of the 8 categories covered in the inventory.  One reason was probably due to the feeling that, even though we are a "needs improvement school" operating under a "School Improvement Grant", we finally had been given clear directions on what we were supposed to be doing (Goal Focus was our highest category) and more of the means to be able to do it.

Had the survey been taken later in the school year, it is always taken near the start of school, the news would probably not have been as positive.  Back in October, as Ms. Johnson put it, we all hit a collective wall.  For one, we had been in school since August 1st and for another, the reality of our situation began to weigh on us.  No matter what new techniques we had been trained to do, we still were faced with many of the same problems we have always had with our students. They had not yet turned into the model scholars we all dream of teaching.  Some of us, me included, struggled with applying the new techniques.  Some drifted back into old habits of teaching, which is what one does when one feels a bit lost in the new methods. 

I think then, things have gotten better. At least they have with me.  I am beginning to finally learn how to organize my lessons and approaches better.  I still struggle with classroom management, but I use technology more and have learned some good engagement strategies.

I think that most of our faculty are on-board with the direction we are going and the course corrections we need to make.  I hope we can see real improvement in our students' test scores because that will give us a real boost in morale (another OHI category that in our school could use improvement).

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