It Takes a Village: Empowering in Support of Teacher Agency

I have been inspired to write this blog after reading an interesting articleIs the era of management over?‘. It argues for the end of the ‘management era’ within business but I made many connections to modern educational settings.

‘The bottom line is that the hierarchical management mode is no longer suited for the challenges of the modern economy. Every pillar of a traditional organization is now in flux, as was brilliantly conceptualized by Tanmay Vora.’

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When we place this same model within the modern educational setting it begins to make a lot of sense. It “Takes a Village’ to educate a child but how are we ensuring that all the voices are heard and valued? The school ‘village’ is full of introverts and extroverts, talkers and listeners, those with the plan and those with the ability to make it happen. Hopefully, like many new business models, our school settings are moving beyond the hieratical approach in leadership and are becoming much more inclusive. 

Teacher’s thrive within their personal learning networks. It is a community that they have created themselves and are comfortable within it to express their thoughts and opinions without fear of judgement. This choice in networks is ideal for the introverts amongst us who now have a chosen outlet to express themselves. This may be within small groupings within work or like many of us through the use of social media. It is where we feel comfortable and in control. I myself have found social media to be a fantastic opportunity to connect with like minded educators and a means of expressing myself in a more open and honest way that I may not always feel comfortable doing within meetings. It is an outlet that I feel comfortable within and I am forever thankful of my personal learning network.

Within my school this year there has been an excellent initiative to create ‘Communities of Practice’. As educators we were given agency in our choice of groupings based on a shared interest. Within our groups we worked together to create a statement that will frame the inquiry and direct purposeful, ongoing learning. Time has been allocated within the calendar for the groups to meet on regular periods for us to create and follow a personal agenda of learning. Not only is this system providing opportunities to follow personal interests but it also provides an opportunity for teachers like myself to have a voice, choice and ownership in an environment that is comfortable for me. Such a progressive move forward provides a voice for all.

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Teachers like myself need these opportunities to be able to thrive. It provides value to our position within the school environment. Providing opportunities for developing networks within the school will ultimately lead to greater empowerment. As professionals it is important that we develop a sense of empowerment rather than being controlled. We need to know that we can make a difference and that our voices matter in the decisions that are being made. It takes a village to educate a child and it can only be of benefit to the children that the power is in the hands of the many rather than the hands of the few.

I am thankful to be able to work within a school that does not fear mistakes. Mistakes are valued as learning opportunities for both the teachers and the students. If everything is always going to plan within the classroom it means that we have not challenged ourselves. I have personally worked alongside teachers that will pull out the same planning year after year because they know it works and it is the safe approach. I personally need to feel challenged, I need to be pushed out of my comfort zone in order to progress and provide an exciting and vibrant learning environment for the children. How can we expect the children to challenge themselves if we do not demonstrate the same?

Openness and transparency is beneficial for any social environment. It creates an atmosphere of trust and understanding. Not all decisions within schools can be open to a vote but they are made more acceptable with open dialogue and discussion. Teachers need to be able to voice their concerns, worries and issues even if they cannot be addressed. The decision process needs to be clear so that it can be more easily accepted. 

We are seeing the era of agency but that must not only extend as far as the students it must also include the teachers as well. Thankfully we are seeing a change in which all voices are beginning to be heard. Teachers are being given an increasing voice, choice and ownership of their own destiny. It takes a village to educate a child but we must first make sure that the village is listening to everyone.

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