Overview of the five stages

In a teacher-powered school, teachers work collegially—with shared responsibility and accountability—to design and run their school. Teacher teams may be formally or informally organized depending on how far along they are in their journey of creating a teacher-powered school. In this guide, we describe teacher teams’ work as it aligns with Bruce W. Tuckman’s four stages of team development: forming, storming, norming, and performing.

Working through these four stages, teacher teams will learn:

  • how to get started;
  • what to expect from the school design and creation process;
  • how to develop high-functioning teams; and
  • what steps and tasks to consider as they design and manage their team and school.

We also added a fifth stage to this guide: transforming. In this stage, teams learn how to connect with other teacher-powered schools and see themselves as part of a larger, growing community.

We encourage all teacher-powered teams to see themselves not just as leaders of their own schools but as transforming forces of teaching and learning. Teacher-powered teams, using their collective expertise from designing and managing schools, can—and should—contribute to local, state, and national discussions about innovative ways to address pressing education issues like teaching quality and student achievement.

Following the five stages

Teachers will come to this guide at different stages in the school creating process. Perhaps you're curious what designing and running a teacher-powered school entails and want more information. Maybe you already have a team in place and are looking for strategies and advice for moving ahead. Perhaps you already run a teacher-powered school and are seeking ways to strengthen your team, modify your processes, or manage internal changes in leadership.

An overview of the five stages and team development

  • Forming Stage. Teams in this stage are just getting started. Individuals will form a design team, do background research, and discuss opportunities and challenges that they might encounter.
    • Design team is formed
    • Roles and processes aren't clearly defined
  • Storming Stage. In this stage, members of the design team establish the models and processes for leadership, teaching, learning, and management that will be used once the school is running. The design team will also develop the school proposal and secure autonomy agreements. The Storming stage is the most intense of all the stages, with numerous steps and design considerations.
    • Design team develops further, following roles and processes established in the Forming stage. The team also creates roles and processes for the school leadership team that will run the school in the Norming, Performing, and Transforming stages.
    • Possible team roles: facilitator, school proposal coordinator, and politics navigator.
  • Norming Stage. Teams in this stage are transitioning from the design team to the school leadership team that will run the school. Not all members of the design team go on to be members of the school leadership team. The school leadership team launches the school and develops cultures and processes that reflect decisions made by the design team in the Storming stage.
    • Design team transitions to the school leadership team.
    • School leadership team embraces the roles and processes created by the design team, refining as needed.
    • Possible team roles: leaders (lead teacher, principal, or head committee), committee chairs, and parent liaisons.
  • Performing Stage. School leadership teams in this stage know how to run their teacher- powered school. Team members are motivated to achieve goals set by the team, and they operate competently within established structures. In the Performing stage, teams learn how to avoid cultural upheaval during organizational changes and recognize when change is necessary to ensure continued success.
    • School leadership team is fully functional.
    • Roles and processes form the Norming stage continue, with refinements as needed.
  • Transforming Stage. Teams in this stage have created, and are now sustaining, successful teacher-powered schools. Team members are focusing on the task of transforming teachers
    and teaching.
    • School leadership team takes on tasks to transform teachers and teaching.
    • Roles and processes expand to include giving support to and learning more about teacher-powered school community.