Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Teacher Voice

I play a very small, but important role in the work place.  I'm in charge of the education of a classroom of bright and talented children. I have many ideas about the ways our systems can grow and change to better effect the work we do with students, but the processes for idea exchange and communication are not in place for ready discussion, debate and delivery.

As you may imagine, it is discouraging to see potential without a ready vehicle for sharing and implementing those ideas.

Currently in education,  to have a voice usually means you have to be an administrator or friend, otherwise it is expected that you will stick to your role and your charge by focusing on the children, and letting the leaders do the job of discussing ideas and best practice.

The problem with that mindset is that the system greatly affects the work teachers do each day, and the system influences motivation, direction, interaction and vision. When there is shared investment and clear communication and protocol, systems thrive, and serve children well.

I recognize that I see things through my lens as a classroom teacher, and there are many other lenses and viewpoints with regard to an organization's vision and process.

Do teachers quiet their voices since systems of  fluid idea management and exchange usually don't exist, or do we find ways to speak up and share ideas. We can be quiet and unsatisfied doing mediocre work, or teachers can play a vital system role by shaping schools with conditions for excellence.

How do you support and employ teacher voice in your system? Do you embrace passionate voices?  How do you collect, reflect and manage ideas from those in the front line of schools: students, families, teaching assistants, educators and service providers? Do your administrative structures support the best possible work when it comes to students, and do you make time to include teachers in the big questions affecting their daily work or as Jose Vilson states "give teachers a seat at the table" when it comes to policy and decisions.

Teachers are sometimes invited to share their ideas through surveys, evaluations, one-to-one conversations, ideas/grants realized, and that's a first step. Yet, fluid systems of idea exchange, communication and forward thought will encourage and employ teacher voice in dynamic ways that serve to better meet students' needs and interests.

Personally, I want to remain a classroom teacher, but I also want to have a voice.  Is that possible?  Thoughts welcome. Debate embraced. I'm seeking solutions and processes, and I invite your discourse.