Friday, June 23, 2017

What Elevates and Celebrates Teacher Voice in Schools?

Good systems for decision making with considerable teacher voice and choice currently don't exist in many schools. Most schools today still follow a factory-model structure of thinkers and doers--this is not a good structure for modern teaching and learning, and it's not a model that puts modern age mentors and leaders in front of students everyday.

When teachers are mostly passive doers rather than thinkers and doers, there is lost potential in schools. On the other hand when educators are full members of the learning team, there is greater potential for schools to meet the promise they hold for teaching children well.

To change schools from old-time factory models to new-age learning communities, takes considerable thought and planning. First it requires that all stakeholders believe in the potential that inclusive, transparent learning communities hold for teaching children well. Next it maintains that systems look at where this transparent, inclusive share exists fully or in part. For example, our PLCs are an opportunity to build in the use of greater strategic, inclusive efforts. Many good ideas are exchanged and worked on during PLC though sometimes PLCs are less inclusive and open. Our grade-level meeting time results in good collaboration and positive efforts.

To date our professional learning events have not kept paced, mostly, with modern learning approaches, and our communication is inadequate since it is generally not timely or inclusive--teachers often aren't part of the discussion during the innovation, research, or planning stages of projects and efforts. Our new teacher contract, however, states that new initiatives will include initial teacher-leadership meetings, and that's a positive step.

I have a lot to say. I read a lot and I see promise and potential everywhere. I understand I don't know it all, and I crave the good learning that comes from collaboration that uses good strategic process, respect for all stakeholders, and efficient share. I want to hear what my dedicated and talented colleagues are doing particularly when their efforts can impact the work I do to teach well.

I believe that our system currently has too many decision makers that are distanced from working with children. I believe our Middle School and High School have better models of teacher leadership and teacher voice and choice than the elementary schools. Often elementary school teachers are spoken to and treated like the young children they teach rather than the dedicated, well-schooled professionals that they are. This is problematic. I've written about how we can change leadership models to enlist greater teacher voice, choice, and leadership at the elementary level.

As I think of teachers like me, teachers filled with ideas and a desire for greater share, leadership, and innovation, I recognize that systems that include the following will support us and boost what we can do.
  • Timely, regular communication that describes plans/ideas in the works, what's happening now, and what has happened.
  • Opportunity for regular share, problem solving, and creativity with efficient, modern day, strategic process
  • Good, holistic, transparent analyses of programs, and the opportunity to reflect upon the analysis and make related changes for betterment
  • Inclusive goal/vision setting and authentic, holistic measurement of goals
  • Effective evaluation systems that lead to betterment
  • Share of exemplary efforts that are evidenced by data, both formal and informal
The good news is that I have the essentials with regard to materials, time, scheduling, and resources to teach well. Now what I'd like is more effective systems that elevate teacher voice, choice, and leadership so we can maximize our energy and collaboration to continually better our service to families and students.