The Teacher-Powered School

Teacher autonomy is key to education in the 21st century. And the overwhelming majority of the public and teachers support it.

So why not give teachers more autonomy? Why not give teachers more opportunity to lead their schools, not just their classrooms?

This is happening already. Over 70 teacher-powered schools are operating in 15 states around the country. These are not just charter public schools. Some teacher-powered schools operate within school districts. Some have union-affiliated teachers, while others do not. The types of teacher-powered arrangements vary widely. Teachers can secure authority to design and run whole schools, a department within a school, or a program that spans several schools.

You can learn about 11 of these schools in the book: Trusting Teachers with School Success:  What Happens When Teachers Call the Shots, by Kim Farris-Berg and Edward J. Dirkswager. Read more.

I love this book. The authors found that teachers do well with this opportunity, creating school cultures that emulate characteristics of high-performing organizations.

So what makes an organization high-performing? Here are key characteristics:

  • Accept Ownership
  • Motivate
  • Innovate
  • Assess Performance
  •  Share Purpose
  • Avoid Insularity
  • Collaborate
  • Function as Learners
  • Lead Effectively

These are elements of a well-run company or nonprofit entity. But they don’t generally describe a teaching environment in our K-12 public education system. But why can’t they? Check out next week’s blogposts for teachers who are creating just that in education.