Ensuring the teacher-powered team is a community of learners

Existing teacher-powered teams say their school’s success is dependent upon creating a learning community. They see themselves as unfinished learners rather than experts who already know everything about teaching. They are constantly learning and trying new things, evaluating their teaching and students’ learning, and using what they learn to make adjustments.

Teacher-powered teams often find that professional development for teachers in conventional schools does not make sense to use in their circumstances. For example, instead of professional development for working in a conventional school, they need professional development for working collegially to design and run a school. They also need professional development for teaching the learning program they choose, not necessarily a conventional learning program. Finally, teams find that they need to stay up-to-date with the latest research on strategies tested with the population of students that they serve.

To cultivate leaders, some teacher-powered teams decide that at least a few teachers will engage in professional development for the purpose of attaining administrative licenses. This way, teams can rotate leadership from the inside and still meet state and district requirements regarding school leadership.

Questions your team should consider:

  • How will your team ensure its members are committed to continuous learning?
  • What kind of professional development will your team need? How will you know?
  • What learning will you pursue as a team? What learning will individuals pursue?
  • How will teacher learning be personalized and aligned to the team’s mission, vision, and values?
  • What structures will be put in place to support ongoing teacher learning and practice?

Resources

Cultivating learning communities

Book.

Milbrey W. McLaughlin and Joan E. Talbert provide an inside look at the processes, resources, and system strategies that are necessary to build vibrant, school-based teacher learning communities.

Book.

Chapter 6 explores the characteristics of learning communities created by teacher-powered schools.

Professional development for teacher-powered teams

Book.

Thomasina Piercy provides a direct leadership model that increases individual teacher capacity and cuts through the unproductive norms that often drive traditional isolated decisions.

Book excerpt.

Learn about the questions and challenges teacher-powered schools face with regard to professional development.