Teacher-leadership of schools is a means for improvement

November 17, 2010 •

An effect of the increase in news coverage of teacher-run schools is a similar dynamic as the chartering of schools has experienced—that is, some observers are interpreting the management structure of these schools (involving teachers, in varied ways, depending upon the school) as an end in itself. This is off the point.

It is important to note the scope of teacher-leadership in schools: A school will not be inherently higher or lower performing because it is teacher-led. Instead we should ask When teachers are involved in running a school as a professional partnership, what changes occur as a result? How do these affect different aspects of the performance of the school?

It is common for white-collar professionals to work in partnerships, from architecture and accounting to law, medicine, or other services. This sort of governance works quite well in those industries—and can reasonably be expected to work for teaching, as well.

Teacher-leadership is a way of managing that may manifest in many different governance models and can allow for more flexibility and inventiveness. In a time of financial constraint and the need for improved performance, that responsiveness is important. But teacher management does not, itself, change performance—it is a means. The improvements may come from there…but do a school should not be expected to be inherently better because it is run on a particular governance model. Our imagination should not stop at teacher-leadership, but begin—considering what could come from it.

Image: Teachers at Woodland Hills Academy in Los Angeles