Lately, our nation’s strategy for improving our schools is mostly limited to “getting tough” with teachers. Blaming teachers for poor outcomes, we spend almost all of our energy trying to control teachers’ behavior and school operations. But what if all of this is exactly the opposite of what is needed? What if teachers are the answer and not the problem? What if trusting teachers, and not controlling them, is the key to school success?
Examining the experiences of teachers who are already trusted to call the shots, this book answers: What would teachers do if they had the autonomy not just to make classroom decisions, but to collectivelywith their colleaguesmake the decisions influencing whole school success? Decisions such as school curriculum, how to allocate the school budget, and whom to hire.
Teachers with decision-making authority create the schools that many of us profess to want. They individualize learning. Their students are active (not passive) learners who gain academic and life skills. The teachers create school cultures that are the same as those in high-performing organizations. They accept accountability and innovate, and make efficient use of resources. These promising results suggest: it’s time to trust teachers.
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About the Author
Kim Farris-Berg and Edward J. Dirkswager are fellows at the Center for Policy Studies in St. Paul, Minnesota. Amy Junge is an associate at the Center for Policy Studies in St. Paul, Minnesota.
To learn more about the authors, visit their website at www.trustingteachers.org.
Table of Contents
PART ONE: What would happen if we trusted teachers with school success?
Introduction. To get high performing schools, maybe it’s time to trust teachers.
Chapter 2. Teacher Autonomy: what it is, who has it, and how it’s secured
Chapter 3. When granted autonomy, teachers choose to operate in ways that emulate the cultural characteristics of high-performing organizations.
PART TWO: Eight practices autonomous teachers embrace which are indicative of the cultural characteristics of high-performing organizations
Chapter 4. Practice #1: Share purpose, which always focuses on students as individuals, and use it as the basis of decisions aimed at school improvement
Chapter 5. Practice #2: Participate in collaboration and leadership for the good of the whole school, not just a classroom.
Chapter 6. Practice #3: Encourage colleagues and students to be active, ongoing learners in an effort to everyone’s engagement and motivation
Chapter 7. Practice #4: Develop or adopt learning programs that individualize student learning
Chapter 8. Practice #5: Address social and discipline problems as part of student learning
Chapter 9. Practice #6: Broaden the definition and scope of student achievement and assessment
Chapter 10. Practice #7: Encourage teacher improvement using 360-degree, peer- and self-evaluation methods as well as peer coaching and mentoring
Chapter 11. Practice #8: Make budget trade-offs to meet the needs of students they serve
PART THREE:Implementation strategies for those who want to support teacher autonomy
Chapter 12. It’s time to trust teachers.
About the Authors
What People are Saying About This
Trusting Teachers with School Success: What Happens When Teachers Call the Shots offers a compelling look at the breakthrough possibilities of teacher leadership. The next generation of schools can be places of real innovation and creativity if we will truly trust teachers.
This lively account of what it looks like in schools that have tried trusting teachers is a must read.
Trusting Teachers comes to us at a critical juncture in the dialogue about the future of education in the United States. The authors examine what happens when teachers not only receive authority over their individual classrooms, but become a part of the school’s decision making structure. While many school systems push authority upwards to administration and accountability for results downwards onto individual teachers, Trusting Teachers shows us what can happen when authority and accountability are brought together and teachers have a seat at every table.
We need ways to press the case for reform without alienating our great teachers, without turning them into the enemy, the problem, and the object of our disdain. Trusting Teachers is a fantastic contribution that describes one way to celebrate, engage and empower them.
The distinct contribution of this important book is that it takes the reader into many highly successful schools in which "trusted" teachers already have professional responsibility for teaching and learning.
Unleashing the collective wisdom of teachers is the best hope for improving our public schools. This provocative, sensible and practical book offers concrete evidence that it can be done and, in fact, is being done. And now that we have already tried virtually everything else, let's do the right thing and turn teacher-run schools from the exception into the norm.