Over the past decade a growing body of research has confirmed that the quality of teaching is the single most powerful in-school factor that influences student learning, and as a result much of the attention of policymakers has turned to “increasing the effectiveness” of teachers. The general consensus is that our nation needs teachers who are ready and willing to take on new professional roles to transform teaching and learning.
Trouble is, while these teachers exist, the vast majority of them do not have the authority to lead this transformation.
For most of the past 150 years we offered teachers one deal: we don’t give you professional authority and we won’t hold you accountable either. In recent years we have been asserting something different: we don’t give you professional authority, but we will hold you accountable. Tying teachers’ evaluations to test scores, even though teachers don’t control the curricula, budget, or selection of their colleagues, is a solid example of this deal. Many teachers strongly resist this backwards deal, as most professionals would.
Teacher-powered schools offer teachers a new deal. In exchange for collective authority to make the decisions that matter most for student success, teachers will also agree to accept collective accountability. Research finds that a majority of teachers are interested in this new deal. Some already have accepted it. And the public wants them to pursue the opportunity.
If you’re interested in harnessing the expertise and know-how of your colleagues and community to create your own teacher-powered school, here are some places to start:
- Learn More: Start by learning everything you can about teacher-powered schools. Check out the FAQ, these stories of other teacher-powered schools, the research white paper, and the book Trusting Teachers With School Success: What Happens When Teachers Call the Shots.
- Join the Movement: Connect with other practitioners in the movement who are currently designing and leading schools. Sign up for the newsletter, join a regional teacher-powered network, follow @teacherpowered on social media, join us for a monthly #teacherpowered Twitter chat, and—best of all—join us for a national conference or other event!
- Find Your People: Share your interest and enthusiasm in the teacher-powered model with your educator colleagues, and encourage them to learn more. Ask them whether they might be interested in starting or converting to a teacher-powered school. Together, begin to get familiar with the Steps to Creating a Teacher-Powered School guide, and in particular Stage One: Forming. It will be your friend throughout this process.
- Visit a Current School: Together with your team, begin to look at the inventory of teacher-powered schools. Find a school in your area you would like to visit, and either reach out to them or contact us and we will make an introduction. When you visit, be sure to notice and ask questions about the way their teacher-powered governance works—not just the learning program!
- Get Serious: With strong background knowledge, a like-minded team, and the experience of seeing a teacher-powered school in action, it’s time to get serious about planning. Read carefully the steps guide mentioned above. Work through the Discussion Starters with your team, in particular the one on Shared Purpose.
- Need More Help? Both Education Evolving and CTQ offer consulting and workshops specifically designed for where your team is in this process. Learn more on the EE and CTQ websites. There are also Ignition and Booster grants available to support teams.