At what point will teachers begin to drive the education agenda?
If we all start doing what we know is right for our students, rather than what we think we should be doing (for external audiences), we can collectively start to change the dialogue in education – but we ALL need to do it.
It appears from all quarters, whether on social media or from the teachers I am working with the length and width of the United Kingdon, that we are all clear what the solution is for the future of education. We need to empower teachers to lead innovation. However, it’s not that simple. Between two extremes, on one side we have politicians and policymakers who wish to measure and evaluate anything and everything, and on the other, teachers, parents and students desperate for a change in Government policy to unlock the true capacity and potential of our talented teaching workforce.
This will not be easy to achieve.
Research and Evidence
Research and evidence from Educational International, Teacher Self-Efficacy, Voice and Leadership: Towards a Policy Framework (2012), published by former teacher John Bangs and lecturer David Frost make a case for a fundamental shift in the role of teacher voice and leadership in relation to educational transformation. In their research they argue for teachers to become “energised and inspired agents of change with an enhanced sense of moral purpose”.
What’s not to agree with?
However, my views are that so many teachers are all-consumed by their days jobs, making a living, they have very little time to become absorbed with research and education policy – not that they lack interest. Quite the opposite. In my last post about Teacher Professionalism, the analogy offered in Holland over a decade ago, of medical professionals taking strike action; “doctors employed by insurance companies saw their right to discretion stripped away from them and could no longer exercise professional confidentiality. Yet they only started protesting when they were in danger of losing their company car.”
How true is this of our own teachers in England? Do we only take strike action when our terms and conditions are threatened? Shouldn’t we mobilise one another to make a change in policy more often?
Bangs and Frost offered seven policy conclusions.
“Some policy makers will take a lot of convincing that teachers have the appetite or the capability to enact the professional lives in the ways.” Lord Jim Knight recently spoke at the Education Forward book launch; “we need politicians to be involved in education, [but not all of it.”]
Teachers really can lead innovation; teachers really can build professional knowledge; teachers really can develop the capacity for leadership, and teachers really can influence their colleagues and the nature of professional practice in their schools. However, what is abundantly clear is that teachers are only likely to do these things if they are provided with appropriate support.” (Frost, 2011, p57)
However, if this doesn’t come to fruition soon, should teachers do it themselves? And what should we focus on?
I am reading Flip the System: changing education from the ground up by Jelmer Evers and Rene Kneyber. It’s a brilliant read and I am blogging my thoughts from each chapter as I travel through the book. This is a snapshot paragraph taken from chapter 7, Non-Positional Teacher Leadership written by John Bangs and David Frost.