Teachers work directly with students, but too often lack substantive roles in crafting education policy. They want a stake in determining how and what children learn, and having this stake is among the most important job-satisfaction factors for teachers.
They want skin in the game, not to be on the sidelines with their voices muted.
States would do well to heed this advice, writes Los Angeles teacher Jeff Austin.
Austin, who teaches economics and government at Social Justice Humanitas Academy, writes in Ed Week of his frustration on California’s plans to send the best teachers to the neediest schools without first soliciting their input.
The plans are commendable courses of action, yes, but they represent additional instances of teachers given directives and not much say, writes Austin:
If state planning goes as expected, states will come up with big plans, pass them on to the districts, then to the schools, and eventually, to the teachers. Teachers that state-level leaders haven’t met, teaching students they do not know.
Maybe it’s time to change how we come up with answers to tough policy questions. Maybe instead, states should collaborate directly with the people who work closest with students—teachers, and simply ask them what they need to join or stay in challenging schools.
Give these teachers greater autonomy to pursue practices custom fit to their students’ needs—not to a cookie-cutter plan baked up to account for all the diverse need of students across California.
Research bears him out. According to the Century Foundation, involving teachers in decision making results in higher job satisfaction, better work cultures and increased student achievement.
Austin’s post is one of a five-part Ed Week series calling for the amplification of teacher voice when it comes to figuring out how to best use their talents and recruit them to the schools where they can make the biggest impact on student achievement.