It’s a scene that is played out time and again across the country— teachers are asked to fall in line with the shortsighted policies of administration without ever having been asked their thoughts. Teachers are continually asked to implement policies that they know to be ineffective for the students that they teach. The best teachers see the policies and find ways to make them into things that work for their students, not against them.
There is no one who knows the needs of the students like those on the ground— the teachers. One truth that we must consider: you don’t need a formal title to lead. Even in the most top-down schools, teachers are at the forefront of leading their colleagues in creating and designing instruction that meets the needs of their students. Without explicit instructions to do so, teachers find colleagues whose passion and knowledge call from inside the classroom walls and speak beyond.
Despite the fact that teachers learn the most from conversations with other teachers in the building, teachers are often looked past as drivers of change in schools. Time and again, we have shown that teachers can be the people who create the type of change that is most reflective of the needs of the students and teachers alike. Teachers work tirelessly to create a classroom environment that is a positive place for students to come and learn each day. When given the opportunity, teachers have the ability to create systems that are reflective of the same commitment to creating positive learning spaces that they know the community of learners will thrive.
Too often, when it comes time to make the difficult decisions that come down to school accountability, testing or curriculum management, teachers are removed from the conversation entirely. This is done in the name of efficiency and expediency. The decisions are made by administrators and teachers are then left to enact a policy in which they had no voice in and often don’t agree will be best for their students. The roll-out of policy is met with confusion by administration as to why it is not taking hold the way that they had planned.
I know one thing to be true: “Teachers will be accountable to the systems that they create.” To administrators and teachers alike: If you want to create meaningful change that is reflective of and honors the needs of the students you serve, then give teachers a voice and let them lead.