Trusting Teachers with School Success: What Happens When Teachers Call the Shots

About the Book

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 collectively—with their colleagues—make 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.

For Us, Teacher Leadership = Teacher-Powered Schools

Our concept of teacher leadership is not about bringing “teacher voice” into a top-down policymaking and management process or giving teachers more “career pathways” within that hierarchical structure.

Instead, we work to move final decision-making authority in schools into the hands of the professionals who know students best—the teachers.

We call schools like these teacher-powered schools.