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Confronting Inequity / Leveraging Teacher Confronting Inequity / Leveraging Teacher Knowledge Knowledge

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Teachers shouldn't be mere "conduits of policy." Teachers shouldn't be mere "conduits of policy." A central paradox of the teaching profession is that although teachers are tasked A central paradox of the teaching
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  10/14/2019 Leveraging Teacher Knowledge - Educational Leadershipwww.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/nov18/vol76/num03/Leveraging-Teacher-Knowledge.aspx 1/3  SCD.org  ASCD.org  Store Store  Blog Blog  Empower20 Empower20  Navigate pplications Navigate Applications  Help Help  Log In Log In Home Home Current Issue Current Issue Archives Archives Buy Buy Contact Contact November 2018   November 2018 | Volume | Volume 76 76  | Number | Number 3 3   When Teachers Lead Their Own Learning When Teachers Lead Their Own Learning  Pages 86-87 Pages 86-87 Issue Table of Contents Issue Table of Contents  | | Read Article Abstract Read Article Abstract Confronting Inequity / Leveraging Teacher Confronting Inequity / Leveraging Teacher Knowledge Knowledge Jacob Bennett  Jacob Bennett  Teachers shouldn't be mere conduits of policy. Teachers shouldn't be mere "conduits of policy." A central paradox of the teaching profession is that although teachers are tasked A central paradox of the teaching profession is that although teachers are tasked with supporting students in knowledge development, they are often not considered with supporting students in knowledge development, they are often not considered experts of their own craft. Consequently, schools often become places in which experts of their own craft. Consequently, schools often become places in which teachers are meant to comply with policy rather than contribute to its development. teachers are meant to comply with policy rather than contribute to its development. More than 25 years ago, Linda Darling-Hammond (1990) provided a realistic description of the job when she More than 25 years ago, Linda Darling-Hammond (1990) provided a realistic description of the job when she wrote: wrote: The teacher is viewed as a conduit for instructional policy, but not as an actor. As a consequence of this The teacher is viewed as a conduit for instructional policy, but not as an actor. As a consequence of this view, policymakers have tended to invest a great deal more in the creation of a control system for view, policymakers have tended to invest a great deal more in the creation of a control system for teaching than they do in the development of teacher knowledge. (p. 339) teaching than they do in the development of teacher knowledge. (p. 339) Historically speaking, the downgraded position of the teaching profession might be connected to the overall Historically speaking, the downgraded position of the teaching profession might be connected to the overall shift in federal education policy after the landmark shift in federal education policy after the landmark Nation at Risk  A Nation at Risk   report (Gardner et al., 1983). In that report, report (Gardner et al., 1983). In that report, the authors used generalization and invectives to create a panicked conversation around the state of our the authors used generalization and invectives to create a panicked conversation around the state of our nation's public schools. They wrote: nation's public schools. They wrote: America's position in the world may once have been reasonably secure with only a few exceptionally America's position in the world may once have been reasonably secure with only a few exceptionally well-trained men and women. It is no longer (p. 14). … We conclude that declines in educational well-trained men and women. It is no longer (p. 14). … We conclude that declines in educational performance are in large part the result of disturbing inadequacies in the way the educational process performance are in large part the result of disturbing inadequacies in the way the educational process itself is often conducted. (p. 26) itself is often conducted. (p. 26) Thanks in part to such wording, any emphasis on teacher agency within school systems seems to have shifted Thanks in part to such wording, any emphasis on teacher agency within school systems seems to have shifted toward accountability and standardization. Both anecdotal and empirical evidence substantiate this assertion. toward accountability and standardization. Both anecdotal and empirical evidence substantiate this assertion. As a former a high school social studies teacher and now as a researcher in education, I have spoken candidly As a former a high school social studies teacher and now as a researcher in education, I have spoken candidly with numerous teachers who say they don't feel respected as professionals. Moreover, a recent report from with numerous teachers who say they don't feel respected as professionals. Moreover, a recent report from Pennsylvania State University and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that among professional Pennsylvania State University and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that among professional  Share Share   | |   BUY THIS ISSUE BUY THIS ISSUE  10/14/2019 Leveraging Teacher Knowledge - Educational Leadershipwww.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/nov18/vol76/num03/Leveraging-Teacher-Knowledge.aspx 2/3 occupations, teachers ranked lowest in feeling their opinions mattered at work (Greenberg, Brown, & occupations, teachers ranked lowest in feeling their opinions mattered at work (Greenberg, Brown, & Abenavoli, 2016). Abenavoli, 2016). Re Energizing a Profession Re-Energizing a Profession What matters at this stage is whether the tide can be reversed. Could the U.S. teaching profession be What matters at this stage is whether the tide can be reversed. Could the U.S. teaching profession be transformed so that teachers are considered experts—or actors, to use Darling-Hammond's word—and not transformed so that teachers are considered experts—or "actors," to use Darling-Hammond's word—and not mere conduits of policy ? What might that change look like? And, perhaps most important, does it matter? mere "conduits of policy"? What might that change look like? And, perhaps most important, does it matter? I can oer one promising example from my own career. When I was a classroom teacher at an urban magnet I can oer one promising example from my own career. When I was a classroom teacher at an urban magnet school in Nashville, I had the opportunity to work for an administrative team that explicitly sought to create a school in Nashville, I had the opportunity to work for an administrative team that explicitly sought to create a system in which teachers' institutional knowledge was included in school-level policy decisions. Norms were system in which teachers' institutional knowledge was included in school-level policy decisions. Norms were developed through faculty meeting practices and other initiatives—including public recognition of teachers for developed through faculty meeting practices and other initiatives—including public recognition of teachers for exceptional performance—that centered on ideals of community, discussion, and action. This created an exceptional performance—that centered on ideals of community, discussion, and action. This created an environment in which we as a faculty felt appreciated, respected, and connected. environment in which we as a faculty felt appreciated, respected, and connected. The school also heightened the role of teacher professional learning communities (groups of ve to ten The school also heightened the role of teacher professional learning communities (groups of ve to ten educators from dierent content areas) in addressing schoolwide issues. At the time, the teacher PLCs were educators from dierent content areas) in addressing schoolwide issues. At the time, the teacher PLCs were focused on ways to solve issues of inequity within the school. Through the frontloading of teacher institutional focused on ways to solve issues of inequity within the school. Through the frontloading of teacher institutional knowledge, a basic problem was uncovered: Many students were receiving multiple discipline referrals and knowledge, a basic problem was uncovered: Many students were receiving multiple discipline referrals and suspensions. Specically, teachers observed that over the years many students would cut-up to try and suspensions. Specically, teachers observed that over the years many students would "cut-up" to try and cause a reaction from both the teacher and their peers. cause a reaction from both the teacher and their peers. Rather than instinctively blame the students for these actions, the teachers had the institutional, community, Rather than instinctively blame the students for these actions, the teachers had the institutional, community, and historical knowledge to understand that student misbehavior of this sort was an eect of a larger cause: and historical knowledge to understand that student misbehavior of this sort was an eect of a larger cause: Many students felt that members of the school community did not take an interest in their well-being. As a Many students felt that members of the school community did not take an interest in their well-being. As a faculty, we decided that a way to mitigate this perception was to develop a restorative mediation program to faculty, we decided that a way to mitigate this perception was to develop a restorative mediation program to build relationships and support students in making better decisions. We called the program choose-to-learn build relationships and support students in making better decisions. We called the program "choose-to-learn" or CTL. or CTL. The central idea behind this program was to lessen punitive discipline practices by giving students chances to The central idea behind this program was to lessen punitive discipline practices by giving students chances to work through their outbursts with committed faculty members. The results of this initiative could be observed work through their outbursts with committed faculty members. The results of this initiative could be observed almost immediately. Overall, discipline referrals decreased, and the CTL room became a place most students almost immediately. Overall, discipline referrals decreased, and the CTL room became a place most students entered only once or twice—often changing their actions after simply having a faculty member listen to their entered only once or twice—often changing their actions after simply having a faculty member listen to their views. views. A major reason for this program's success was our administrative team's belief that teachers had unique A major reason for this program's success was our administrative team's belief that teachers had unique expertise on students' needs. By supporting faculty in having a voice in programs such as CTL, leaders created expertise on students' needs. By supporting faculty in having a voice in programs such as CTL, leaders created a school environment in which teachers were no longer mere conduits of policy, but contributors to it. This a school environment in which teachers were no longer mere conduits of policy, but contributors to it. This established teachers as respected sources of information and professional knowledge. Moreover, because the established teachers as respected sources of information and professional knowledge. Moreover, because the whole faculty contributed to the policy design, buy-in for its implementation was strong. whole faculty contributed to the policy design, buy-in for its implementation was strong. Boosting Teacher Ecacy Boosting Teacher Ecacy This is just one example from one school. But it shows that by developing distributed leadership frameworks This is just one example from one school. But it shows that by developing distributed leadership frameworks and relying on teachers' collective knowledge, schools can not only solve persistent problems, but also begin and relying on teachers' collective knowledge, schools can not only solve persistent problems, but also begin to challenge inherited structural assumptions about the teaching profession itself. to challenge inherited structural assumptions about the teaching profession itself. The paradox of teaching as a profession is complicated. In reality, teachers are both harbingers of knowledge The paradox of teaching as a profession is complicated. In reality, teachers are both harbingers of knowledge and conduits of policy. For school policies to be eective, however, they must reect the needs of teachers and conduits of policy. For school policies to be eective, however, they must reect the needs of teachers and their students within their design. For that to happen, teachers must have a role in the development and their students within their design. For that to happen, teachers must have a role in the development process. This is important to increase not only teacher buy-in, but also personal and collective teacher process. This is important to increase not only teacher buy-in, but also personal and collective teacher  10/14/2019 Leveraging Teacher Knowledge - Educational Leadershipwww.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/nov18/vol76/num03/Leveraging-Teacher-Knowledge.aspx 3/3 ecacy. Through leadership models that leverage teachers' expertise, schools can become places in which all ecacy. Through leadership models that leverage teachers' expertise, schools can become places in which all members feel connected and supported in reaching agreed-upon goals. members feel connected and supported in reaching agreed-upon goals. References References Darling-Hammond, L. (1990). Instructional policy into practice: The power of the bottom over the top. Darling-Hammond, L. (1990). Instructional policy into practice: "The power of the bottom over the top." Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis 12 Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 12 (3), 339–347. (3), 339–347. Gardner, D., Larsen, Y. W., Baker, W. O., Campbell, A., Crosby, E. A., Foster, C. A., et al. (1983). Gardner, D., Larsen, Y. W., Baker, W. O., Campbell, A., Crosby, E. A., Foster, C. A., et al. (1983). A nation at  A nation at  risk: The imperative for educational reform. An open letter to the American people. A report to the nation and risk: The imperative for educational reform. An open letter to the American people. A report to the nation and  the secretary of education the secretary of education . Washington, DC: Government Printing Oce. . Washington, DC: Government Printing Oce. Greenberg, M. T., Brown, J. L., & Abenavoli, R. M. (2016). Greenberg, M. T., Brown, J. L., & Abenavoli, R. M. (2016). Teacher stress and health: Eects on teachers Teacher stress and health: Eects on teachers, students and schools students, and schools  [Video]. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. [Video]. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Jacob Bennett  Jacob Bennett , guest columnist for H. Richard Milner IV, is research associate in the Center for Racial Justice in   , guest columnist for H. Richard Milner IV, is research associate in the Center for Racial Justice in Education at Peabody College of Vanderbilt University. Education at Peabody College of Vanderbilt University. KEYWOR S KEYWORDS Click on keywords to see similar products: Click on keywords to see similar products: teacher leadership teacher leadership , , professional development professional development , , professional learning communities professional learning communities , , collaboration collaboration , , teacher teacher engagement and motivation engagement and motivation ,  , school climate and culture school climate and culture ,  , school and district management school and district management , , supported supported Copyright © 2018 by ASCD Copyright © 2018 by ASCD Requesting Permission Requesting Permission For For photocopy photocopy , , electronic and online access electronic and online access , and , and republication requests republication requests , go to the , go to the Copyright Copyright Clearance Center Clearance Center . Enter the periodical title within the . Enter the periodical title within the "  et Permission Get Permission  search eld. " search eld. 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