Teachers address motivation and accountability

Mailing Date: 
July 22, 2009
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Updates and Insights from Education|Evolving
Vol. 5, No. 5July 22, 2009Jon Schroeder, Editor

Teachers will accept accountability when given the authority to manage the school

In E|E's new video series, teachers explain why

In our new video series, E|E asserts: To motivate teachers, make "teaching" a better job. Give teachers control over their work and enlarge their professional responsibility, like in most other white-collar professions.

The idea of "creating better jobs for the people" is largely absent in discussions about how to improve 'teaching,' where two other notions currently dominate education policy discussions:

  1. School leaders' job is to motivate teachers.
    Quality circles, holiday gifts, public recognition. For example, see Education World's 25 Ways for School Administrators to Motivate Teachers.
  2. Get better teachers for the job.
    Recruit better, train better, assign better. See this NY Times Editorial, "Better Qualified Teachers" from June 23, 2008.

"These strategies are largely working uphill if we're not at the same time creating better jobs," says E|E Founding Partner Ted Kolderie.

In E|E's early conversations with teachers about motivation, we'd ask, "What would make you more accountable for student learning?" Their reply was: How can I be accountable for things I do not control?

Some teachers want the same opportunities as most professionals in white collar jobs. They want to be able to select their colleagues, design the learning program, determine the schools' budget, hire administrators. They resist structures that make them accountable without giving them responsibility. They want to be trusted with the responsibility of delivering results, and in exchange for that trust, they'll accept accountability.

This is now happening in teacher professional partnerships, an arrangement where teachers are given the authority to manage the school.

Learn more about teacher professional partnerships as a means to creating a better job for the people in our three-part video series featuring E|E co-founder Ted Kolderie.

Teachers confirm what motivates them in E|E's Teacher Voices on Video Series

Teachers who work in teacher professional partnerships, and their students, support E|E's assertions. Watch and listen for yourself in our video series featuring teachers who work in Minnesota and Milwaukee TPPs.

» Click here to see all Teacher Voices on Video

"[With autonomy], you can make decisions based on what you know to be the best for your students." » Interview: Linda's experiences in a teacher-run school
"Students know: Even though it's 'my classroom', it's part of the school community. [Teachers] help each other... This is our school." » Interview: Roxane's experiences in a teacher-run school
"Everybody's willing to work in one direction with one focus... They're willing to put in more time and more effort because they really do own what goes on here." » Interview: Dee's experiences in a teacher-run school
"I really feel like I don't have a right to be unhappy here because if I'm frustrated with some of the things we're doing, why don't I work to change it?" » Interview: Carrie's experiences in a teacher-run school

Education|Evolving has created a DVD of the introductory videos with Ted Kolderie, and selected teacher and student interviews. If you are interested in obtaining DVDs, either for personal viewing or to distribute, please contact Tim McDonald at tim@educationevolving.org.

Read more about the Teacher Professional Partnerships idea at:

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