Teachers unions are often important allies in championing and supporting teacher-powered schools in their communities. The teacher-powered model allows teachers—the professionals in teaching and learning—to design schools that meet the needs of their students. At the same time, it elevates the professional status and authority of teachers in schools. Both of these are noble goals teachers unions have had for decades.
Some ways teachers union leaders can get involved include:
- Learn More: Start by learning more 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.
- Task Force: Bring together a task force of union/association leaders, teachers, principals, community members, and others to collect data and design a framework for creating or supporting teacher-powered schools. Then, as a task force committee, create specific recommendations for action that can be presented to local leaders, district administrators, charter authorizers, or policymakers in your community or state.
- Contract Agreements: Work with other union leaders to create the conditions for teacher-powered arrangements within the collective bargaining agreement (check out how the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers pulled this off here).
- Waivers: Work together with district school boards and leadership to provide waivers from certain aspects of the collective bargaining agreement to teams of teachers who create teacher-powered schools. In some circumstances, this can help ensure that teachers have the autonomy to carry out their leadership responsibilities.
- Leadership Trainings: Identify professional development trainings that cultivate teacher-leadership skills and expose colleagues to new opportunities to lead without leaving the classroom. Arrange for this training to be accessible to teachers in your local union.
- Communication: Spread the word, arrange a speaker or panel, grow interest, and mobilize your colleagues around the teacher-powered school concept through communications with your union’s members.
- Connect & Collaborate: Whenever possible, find ways to collaborate and learn from other teacher-leaders across the country, including those who are designing and running teacher-powered schools. We have close connections with several union leaders around the country who know what it’s like to champion teacher-powered schools from within a union; reach out to us and we’d be happy to introduce you.