Do teachers in your school have a voice?
Principals may answer yes to this question, referring to the numerous policies that have been put in place to allow teachers to contribute to school-wide decision making. Several principals will mention the School Improvement Committee, Parent Teacher Association, Principal’s Suggestion Box, or School Leadership Team as avenues for teachers’ voices to be heard however countless teachers will question the realistic relevance of these forums. Perhaps the question should be rephrased, “Do teachers feel that they have a voice?”
When you act like you do not want to answer questions people will stop asking them!
Take faculty meetings for example. Many teachers have reported that they feel like they cannot ask questions, express an opinion about decisions that are make in the school without receiving a negative response from administrators. When you act like you do not want to answer questions people will stop asking them! If faculty meetings are not an appropriate time for teachers to share their opinions, ask questions, demonstrate ‘voice’, then consider establishing an authentic opportunity for teachers to be heard.
Develop a simple practice that allows teachers to ask questions and share their opinion and feel that their voice is considered and heard by administration. Listed below is a suggestion that can be used in middle and high school:
Department meeting > School Leadership Team meeting > Senior Leadership meeting
Schedule weekly department meetings with agenda. Add line item to department meeting agenda where teachers can share their concerns and opinions.
Department chairs share those collective concerns and opinions during School Leadership meeting (weekly/monthly). School leaders discuss the concerns and opinions brought by each department, offering solutions were applicable.
Senior leadership (principal, assistant principals, instructional coaches) address teachers’ concerns and opinions and determine method to share results or solutions. This will enable teachers to clearly see the way that their voice is heard through a simple process.
LaVoulle Group, International Education Consultants