Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Teacher Voice and Agency, Part II

The slide is from Russ Quaglia's presentation that I wrote about last week, in which I discussed teacher voice as a prerequisite for student voice. For me, the visual poses a question: how do we balance innovation with the standard operating structures and procedures (SOPs) in our schools to provide equilibrium? In Russ's visual, there needs to be a fairly stable balance in order for teacher voice to be heard. In other words, tipping too much toward innovation or too much toward SOPs may have the impact of muting teacher voice.

Another perspective is offered in Suzie Boss's new book, All Together Now: How to Engage Your Stakeholders in Reimagining School:
Even in this current era of rapid change, educators have good reason to be cautious about adopting the next new thing. No one wants to gamble on our students' futures. Seasoned teachers who have seen previous initiatives come and go can't be blamed for keeping their heads down, waiting for this storm to pass.
If you're keeping your head down, we probably can't hear your voice. This is where Timperley, Kaser & Halbert (A Framework for Transforming Learning in Schools: Innovation and the Spiral of Inquiry, 2014) offer sage advice:

We said earlier that it is important to 'get started'. However, it is also important to avoid the temptation at this stage to rush into 'doing something'. The 'let's just get going' spirit needs to be resisted -- not forever but for long enough to increase the odds that our actions will have the impact we desire. We need to have the courage and patience to slow down and develop a deeper understanding of what is worth spending time on before moving to hasty action. Focusing well will lead to informed action.
The authors also highlight the concept that "engaging in inquiry is a process of developing collective professional agency either within a school or across a cluster of schools."

So, how might teacher voice and collective professional agency look in a balanced system? Here is an example:

The highlighted terms -- processes, knowledge, culture, relationships, resources, and context -- elevate teacher voice and agency. When teacher voice is elevated, student voice will be elevated. And when that happens, the conditions for meaningful change are ripe.
Image result for linchpin 

In conclusion, I'll leave you with this statement from Boss: "Teachers are the linchpins of school change."

Join the conversation...
How would you balance innovation and SOPs to ensure equilibrium?

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