Empowering Teachers by Giving Them a Voice

Empowering Teachers by Giving Them a Voice
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Teachers want to feel like they are appreciated. They want to know that their opinions matter. They want to feel like they have a voice.  It is important for administrators to empower teachers by giving them that voice. School leaders must recognize the value in seeking input from teachers. When teachers are given a chance to have a voice and see their suggestions coming to fruition it will energize them.

They will begin to buy into the philosophy of the school. Empowering them will also have a positive impact on their classroom. When teachers are given a voice, they are generally more productive and effective.

Empowering teachers must be an ongoing endeavor. You will not maximize the effectiveness of the strategy if you only consult them when it is convenient. Instead, invite teachers to provide feedback and suggestions even when they are not asked. Listen to them. If you decide not to use their suggestions, take the time to let them know why you went a different direction. We live in an era where teacher shortages are common. What better way to set yourself apart from other districts than to be known for soliciting and acting on the suggestions, concerns, and feedback expressed by your teachers. It does empower them.

Allow Teachers to Share Their Expertise in Faculty Meetings

Every teacher has their area of expertise.

Some teachers are experts on classroom management while others excel in preparation and organization. We all have our unique strengths and weaknesses. Allowing teachers to create and share a mini-presentation built around those strengths is a great way to not only empower the teacher but to give a different perspective that can benefit other teachers.

Providing these opportunities to your teachers also shows that you trust their abilities.

Conduct a Professional Development Needs Assessment

Nothing waste time like meaningless professional development. If the professional development does not resonate with the teachers, then it is a waste of time and resources. Professional development should be constructed to meet the needs of your teachers. Administrators should conduct a needs assessment to determine what your teachers want or need. This quick survey will ensure that your teachers are getting the professional development they are seeking.

Conduct a School Wide Needs Assessment

Typically, teachers are more in tune with what is happening in and around the school than most people realize. Because of this teachers can identify areas of need and come up with some of the best ideas to improve them. Teachers will take ownership of these improvements when the idea originated with them. It is important to note that any major changes will likely create growing pains so having the teacher invested in them will go a long ways in ensuring that things go as smooth as possible.

Discuss Options When Dealing with a Student Discipline Issue

Once a principal receives a discipline referral on a student, the final decision rest with them.

However, it can be beneficial if the principal consults with the teacher who made the referral. This gives the principal a chance to gather critical information relevant to the referral including the teacher’s first-hand account, other issues the student may have caused, and how those problems were handled. The principal may also give the teacher an opportunity to express their opinion on how the incident should be handled.

Invite a Committee of Teachers to Help Interview Candidates to Fill an Open Teaching Position

Allowing a small group of teachers to be a part of the interview and hiring process for a new teacher is a great way to empower them. Afterall they are the ones who are going to be working directly with the new teacher and camaraderie is a significant part of school success. Also, having other professionals participate in the interview process gives you a different perspective on the candidates.

As a group, you can more readily break down each candidate's strengths and weaknesses and ensure that the best candidate is hired.

Provide Teachers with the Autonomy to Make Instructional Decisions in Their Classroom

Many districts require their teachers to follow scripted and sequenced lesson plans on a daily basis. This limits the creativity and individual qualities that make teaching both effective and fun. Schools must give their teachers the autonomy to make instructional decisions in their classroom. Giving them this autonomy provides them the most important voice a school can give them which is a voice in how they teach the required curriculum.

Select a Committee of Teachers to Review and Eventually Select a New Curriculum in an Adoption Year

New curriculum is purchased each year according to a predetermined textbook adoption cycle typically provided by the state department of education.  Each subject area is usually on a 5-6 year cycle. Giving teachers the opportunity to review potential textbooks and provide feedback accordingly will ensure that the district is purchasing a quality curriculum. Allowing teachers to influence curriculum decisions will provide ownership in the curriculum they are using on a daily basis.

Solicit Feedback from Teachers on Purchasing Decisions such as New Technology

It is wise for districts to consult with teachers before spending large amounts of money on technology, intervention programs, or other classroom equipment. If the teacher does not like it or understand how to use it, chances are it will not be utilized as it was intended to be used. Essentially, districts would be better served to allow teachers to either select what the district purchases or at least have a say in the purchasing decision.

Solicit Feedback from Teachers When Reviewing the Student Handbook or Writing New Policies

Teachers can provide quality feedback and ideas when it comes to policy for the student handbook. They live it on a daily basis. They know which policies are effective and which ones are not.

They can provide insight into what would make a current policy more effective. They also pick up on things that might require a new policy. Furthermore, involving teachers in the process of reviewing the student handbook will ensure that they know what the policies are.

Solicit Feedback from Teachers When You are Thinking About Starting a New Program at the School

Many schools create and offer a wide variety of programs to meet specific needs within the school. These range from an after school tutoring program to a school grounds committee. When thinking about initiating a new program, recruit a group of teachers to help develop the program. Provide them with a specified mission and then give hem to have complete control of the development of the program. You will likely see a successful program come to fruition.