Are We Ready to Trust Teachers with School Change?

It won't surprise any of you that once you really start digging into how to systemically implement Customized Learning, it doesn't take long to figure out that you need shared leadership, and that teachers need to be an active part of that shared leadership.

In Auburn, we're even working with teachers and the Association to see how we might re-envision the contract, so that it is both fair and flexible. Fair to teachers in terms of working conditions, compensation, training and support, and benefits. But flexible enough to the the new system to allow us to redefine professional development (and adjusting teacher roles), grouping (and regrouping) students, “courses” and other ways to organize “delivery” or “coverage” of the curriculum. (We've reached some interesting philosophical agreements about what a “from scratch” contract might look like, but, to help everyone bridge between that vision and what we have now, we'll probably focus on simply tweaking sections of the existing contract this round.)

But one of the issues that has come up several times, is an expanded role for teachers as decision makers: in allocating resources and creating budgets; in supervising and evaluating teachers, and working with those who need extra support; etc.

It's an interesting question. School leaders are asking teachers to trust them to change schools to a system that we may philosophically believe will be better for more students (including, perhaps some innovative, but unprecedented, changes to their contract!). But are school leaders ready to trust teachers to help design and lead that work, to help us all successfully implement customized learning?

Recently, I came across Trusting Teachers with School Success, a book that looks at 11 schools that have done exactly that, and relates their successes and challenges. You can learn more at their website: