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Saturday, January 07, 2017

Listen and Hear Teachers: Elevate School Support and Structure

Make the time to listen to teachers and hear what they have to say.

For too long, for many reasons, many teachers have lacked voice, and this, I believe, has resulted in some schools that do less than possible for students. In fact, if you think about it, isn't it crazy that the people that work with children day in and day out would not have substantial voice over what happens. Voice lends itself to engagement, investment, and improvement, and without substantial voice programs languish. (Note that while I'm always advocating for more voice, I do believe teachers in the school where I work have some say over what we do.)

In the past many years, there has been a big push to improve teaching. I believe that this push, in many ways, has resulted in better teaching. Teachers in Massachusetts are highly skilled due to the large number of preparation requirements expected as well as the high level teaching/learning expectations for almost every curriculum program. Now, I believe the big push needs to focus on the structure and leadership in schools by looking for ways to maximize resources to best teach students in ways that foster meaning, engagement, empowerment, and leadership at all levels.

I was inspired to write today as I once again listened to educators talk about both demeaning and elevating experiences in school. A friend who has contact with a prestigious private school extolled the values the school represents, values that clearly come from educators who have substantial voice and choice over the teaching and learning. Another friend lamented the lack of voice which translates into a tremendous lack of opportunity for some of our most needy students, and that lack of opportunity at a young age will result in a lack of contribution and positive behavior later on. There's no doubt about it as if children are not treated well by public organizations in the early years, they will not grow to value, respect, or contribute to those institutions later on.

So, it's integral, that school systems change the way they work to better listen and hear all stakeholders and work together to create forward moving programs that empower, engage, and educate students well. We have to work for betterment in all that we do, and we have to set up natural paths to make this part of our daily work.

Schools where young children are denied a quality modern education have to change. In one friend's school, the children still have little to no tech access. At this point, that's a crime and clearly keeps those students down since students at many other schools have regular tech access.

Yesterday's trip to the Boston Museum of Science resounds in me as I think about the level of engagement my students experienced, and how that left me with a terrific vision of how to improve the work I do each day and the way we structure, build, and forward schools or better named, learning communities.

Teachers, for the most part, are doing very well. School support and structures, both physical and organizational, have tremendous room for positive growth, change, and improvement. This is the exciting frontier of education now, and how will we seize this opportunity to better what we can do for every child which, in turn, will empower our communities and nation.