Teachers as Coaches

We’ve talked in past blogposts about Personalized Learning: a key to innovation and breakthrough in 21st century education.

But personalized learning is not just about technology or methodology. It can’t really work without teacher “coaches.” So let’s talk about teacher entrepreneurs and teacher autonomy.

States, and increasingly the federal government, are telling schools and teachers what to teach and how. Districts replicating “best practices” are centralizing and standardizing. Districts defend uniformity. Many teachers are frustrated and now view teaching as a less attractive career. They believe, not unreasonably, that it is unfair to hold them accountable for student success when it is the school boards and central offices that control what really matters for student success: budgets, curriculum, and staffing.

Good teachers exercise their option to quit, further weakening a system that already loses half its new teachers within five years.

This problem is real. A spring 2014 report from the Gallup organization found that of 12 professions polled, teachers are least likely to agree with the statement: “My opinion seems to matter at work.” This is worth repeating:

Of the 12 professions, teachers are least likely to agree: “My opinion seems to matter at work.”

At the same time, a growing body of research confirms that the quality of teaching is the single most powerful influence on student learning. So policymakers look to increase effectiveness of teachers.

We all want teachers who are ready, willing and able to take on new, professional roles to transform teaching, schools, and schooling. The trouble is, while these teachers exist, the vast majority of them do not have authority to lead this transformation.

How do we change this? Find out Thursday in our next blogpost.