Teacher teams gather in Minneapolis for first Teacher-Powered Schools Conference

November 11, 2015 •

Across the country, a growing number of educators are transforming student learning and the teaching profession in new ways through teacher-powered schools. More than 220 of these educators representing 23 states gathered in Minneapolis over the weekend for the first Teacher-Powered Schools National Conference.

The conference, produced by Education Evolving and the Center for Teaching Quality, kicked off with a tour of teacher-powered Avalon School in St. Paul, MN. The tour was followed by a mock meeting of the Avalon teacher team to demonstrate how the school is run and a question-and-answer panel with students.

Just over half of the conference participants attended an optional site visit to Avalon School.

“We are able to learn about collaboration by watching our teachers collaborate,” said Avalon student Delia Grimes about the impact the teacher-powered model has had on her education. “We see our teachers aren’t just coworkers. They’re a team and they look up to each other.”

The conference—moderated by Kim Farris-Berg and Lori Nazareno—featured teacher-powered practitioners in both the district and charter sectors sharing how they are collaboratively designing and running all aspects of their schools. Session presenters spoke on securing and sustaining school autonomy, distributing leadership among teacher teams, and demonstrating student success beyond test scores.

“Teacher-powered schools put a new spin on the concept of ‘teacher leadership’,” said Kim Farris-Berg, lead author of Trusting Teachers with School Success. “The idea behind these schools is to give decision-making authority over student and school success into the hands of those who know and understand students—the teachers.”

Several schools and individuals were recognized at the conference for their achievements in advancing the teacher-powered schools movement:

  • Extraordinary Achievement Award to the Social Justice Humanitas Academy Team of Teachers and the Avalon School Team of Teachers
  • School-Union-District Partnership Award to Reiche School Team of Teachers, Portland Education Association, and Portland Public Schools
  • Advancements in Research Award to Dr. Richard Ingersoll at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education

Conference attendees were given the chance to incorporate and adapt lessons learned into their school designs by engaging in workshops with their teacher teams at a post-conference design day.

For more information and for a complete list of teacher-powered schools, visit www.teacherpowered.org.

A modified version of this article originally appeared on the CTQ website.