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Trusting Teachers with School Success

What Happens When Teachers Call the Shots

Kim Farris-Berg and Edward J. Dirkswager - Commentaries by Amy Junge

Lately, our nation’s strategy for improving our schools is mostly limited to “getting tough” with teachers. Blaming teachers for poor outcomes, we spend almost all of our energy trying to control teachers’ behavior and school operations. But what if all of this is exactly the opposite of what is needed? What if teachers are the answer and not the problem? What if trusting teachers, and not controlling them, is the key to school success?
Examining the experiences of teachers who are already trusted to call the shots, this book answers: What would teachers do if they had the autonomy not just to make classroom decisions, but to collectively—with their colleagues—make the decisions influencing whole school success? Decisions such as school curriculum, how to allocate the school budget, and whom to hire.
Teachers with decision-making authority create the schools that many of us profess to want. They individualize learning. Their students are active (not passive) learners who gain academic and life skills. The teachers create school cultures that are the same as those in high-performing organizations. They accept accountability and innovate, and make efficient use of resources. These promising results suggest: it’s time to trust teachers.
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R&L Education
Pages: 254Size: 6 1/4 x 9 1/2
978-1-61048-509-8 • Hardback • October 2012 • $81.00 • (£54.95)
978-1-61048-510-4 • Paperback • October 2012 • $33.00 • (£22.95)
978-1-61048-511-1 • eBook • October 2012 • $31.00 • (£21.95)
Kim Farris-Berg and Edward J. Dirkswager are fellows at the Center for Policy Studies in St. Paul, Minnesota. Amy Junge is an associate at the Center for Policy Studies in St. Paul, Minnesota.

To learn more about the authors, visit their website at www.trustingteachers.org
PART ONE: What would happen if we trusted teachers with school success?
Introduction. To get high performing schools, maybe it’s time to trust teachers.
Chapter 2. Teacher Autonomy: what it is, who has it, and how it’s secured
PART TWO: Eight practices autonomous teachers embrace whichare indicative of the cultural characteristics of high-performing organizations

Chapter 6. Practice #3: Encourage colleagues and students to be active, ongoing learners in an effort to everyone’s engagement and motivation
Chapter 7. Practice #4: Develop or adopt learning programs that individualize student learning
PART THREE:Implementation strategies for those who want to support teacher autonomy
About the Authors
While school reform has proceeded seemingly unabated for the last 50 years, the most recent proposals have, for the most part, excluded classroom practitioners from the discussion. Farris-Berg and Dirkswager (fellows, Center for Policy Studies, St. Paul, Minnesota) examine the results at schools that trust the teachers who work there to make the important educational decisions affecting the children they serve. While exploring how best to encourage autonomous teachers, the book also reviews how much independence teachers need, how educators respond to this autonomy, and how the results of their decisions can be assessed and evaluated. A large part of the work looks at eight practices that autonomous teachers embrace and that the authors suggest are necessary for a high-performing organization. These practices are explained through the use of vignettes, examples, photographs, and graphics that deepen understanding of the concepts undergirding each practice. Each of these chapters examining effective practices concludes with a series of questions and challenges related to implementation as identified by teachers assuming increased responsibility in school governance. These questions and challenges would provide ideal starting places for discussions related to these issues. Summing Up: Highly recommended. General readers; upper-division undergraduate students and above.

Trusting Teachers with School Success has an in depth look at teacher-led schools — why and how they work and the key ingredients of success. Every teacher should have the opportunity to work in a teacher-led environment and should read this book to find out why.
Education Week

The book Trusting Teachers with School Success is important in part because it has been endorsed by a variety of educators and education activists, many of whom strongly disagree with each other about other issues such as testing, charter public schools and virtual schools….As America searches for solutions, it’s great to find strategies supported by thoughtful people who often disagree. That makes Trusting Teachers with School Success a book with important, intriguing ideas.
Hometown Source

Trusting Teachers comes to us at a critical juncture in the dialogue about the future of education in the United States. The authors examine what happens when teachers not only receive authority over their individual classrooms, but become a part of the school’s decision making structure. While many school systems push authority upwards to administration and accountability for results downwards onto individual teachers, Trusting Teachers shows us what can happen when authority and accountability are brought together and teachers have a seat at every table.
Linda Darling-Hammond, Professor at Stanford University School of Education

Trusting Teachers with School Success: What Happens When Teachers Call the Shots offers a compelling look at the breakthrough possibilities of teacher leadership. The next generation of schools can be places of real innovation and creativity if we will truly trust teachers.
Dennis Van Roekel, President, National Education Association

This lively account of what it looks like in schools that have tried trusting teachers is a must read.
Deborah Meier, senior scholar at NYU’s Steinhardt School; 45-year educator in K-12 public schools in New York City (East Harlem) and Boston (Roxbury)

The distinct contribution of this important book is that it takes the reader into many highly successful schools in which "trusted" teachers already have professional responsibility for teaching and learning.
James A. Kelly, Founding President, National Board of Professional Teaching Standards

We need ways to press the case for reform without alienating our great teachers, without turning them into the enemy, the problem, and the object of our disdain. Trusting Teachers is a fantastic contribution that describes one way to celebrate, engage and empower them.
Michael J. Petrilli, vice president for national programs and policy, Thomas B. Fordham Institute, vice president for national programs and policy, Thomas B. Fordham Institute

Unleashing the collective wisdom of teachers is the best hope for improving our public schools. This provocative, sensible and practical book offers concrete evidence that it can be done and, in fact, is being done. And now that we have already tried virtually everything else, let's do the right thing and turn teacher-run schools from the exception into the norm.
Adam Urbanski, president, Rochester (NY) Teachers Association; vice-president, American Federation of Teachers; director, Teacher Union Reform, President of the Rochester (NY) Teachers Association, Vice President of the American Federation of Teachers, and Founding Director of the Teacher Union Reform Network