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Trusting Teachers with School Success: What Happens When Teachers Call the Shots

5 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1610485104
ISBN-10: 1610485106
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Editorial Reviews

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Trusting Teachers comes to us at a critical juncture in the dialogue about the future of education in the United States. The authors examine what happens when teachers not only receive authority over their individual classrooms, but become a part of the school’s decision making structure. While many school systems push authority upwards to administration and accountability for results downwards onto individual teachers, Trusting Teachers shows us what can happen when authority and accountability are brought together and teachers have a seat at every table. (Linda Darling-Hammond, Professor at Stanford University School of Education)

Trusting Teachers with School Success: What Happens When Teachers Call the Shots offers a compelling look at the breakthrough possibilities of teacher leadership. The next generation of schools can be places of real innovation and creativity if we will truly trust teachers. (Dennis Van Roekel, President, National Education Association)

This lively account of what it looks like in schools that have tried trusting teachers is a must read. (Deborah Meier, senior scholar at NYU’s Steinhardt School; 45-year educator in K-12 public schools in New York City (East Harlem) and Boston (Roxbury))

The distinct contribution of this important book is that it takes the reader into many highly successful schools in which "trusted" teachers already have professional responsibility for teaching and learning. (James A. Kelly, Founding President, National Board of Professional Teaching Standards)

We need ways to press the case for reform without alienating our great teachers, without turning them into the enemy, the problem, and the object of our disdain. Trusting Teachers is a fantastic contribution that describes one way to celebrate, engage and empower them. (Michael J. Petrilli, vice president for national programs and policy, Thomas B. Fordham Institute, vice president for national programs and policy, Thomas B. Fordham Institute)

Unleashing the collective wisdom of teachers is the best hope for improving our public schools. This provocative, sensible and practical book offers concrete evidence that it can be done and, in fact, is being done. And now that we have already tried virtually everything else, let's do the right thing and turn teacher-run schools from the exception into the norm. (Adam Urbanski, president, Rochester (NY) Teachers Association; vice-president, American Federation of Teachers; director, Teacher Union Reform, President of the Rochester (NY) Teachers Association, Vice President of the American Federation of Teachers, and Founding Director of the Teacher Union Reform Network)

Trusting Teachers with School Success has an in depth look at teacher-led schools-why and how they work and the key ingredients of success. Every teacher should have the opportunity to work in a teacher-led environment and should read this book to find out why.


(Education Week)

The book Trusting Teachers with School Success is important in part because it has been endorsed by a variety of educators and education activists, many of whom strongly disagree with each other about other issues such as testing, charter public schools and virtual schools….As America searches for solutions, it’s great to find strategies supported by thoughtful people who often disagree. That makes Trusting Teachers with School Success a book with important, intriguing ideas. (Hometown Source)

While school reform has proceeded seemingly unabated for the last 50 years, the most recent proposals have, for the most part, excluded classroom practitioners from the discussion. Farris-Berg and Dirkswager (fellows, Center for Policy Studies, St. Paul, Minnesota) examine the results at schools that trust the teachers who work there to make the important educational decisions affecting the children they serve. While exploring how best to encourage autonomous teachers, the book also reviews how much independence teachers need, how educators respond to this autonomy, and how the results of their decisions can be assessed and evaluated. A large part of the work looks at eight practices that autonomous teachers embrace and that the authors suggest are necessary for a high-performing organization. These practices are explained through the use of vignettes, examples, photographs, and graphics that deepen understanding of the concepts undergirding each practice. Each of these chapters examining effective practices concludes with a series of questions and challenges related to implementation as identified by teachers assuming increased responsibility in school governance. These questions and challenges would provide ideal starting places for discussions related to these issues. Summing Up: Highly recommended. General readers; upper-division undergraduate students and above. (CHOICE)

About the Author

Kim Farris-Berg and Edward J. Dirkswager are fellows at the Center for Policy Studies in St. Paul, Minnesota. Amy Junge is an associate at the Center for Policy Studies in St. Paul, Minnesota.

To learn more about the authors, visit their website at www.trustingteachers.org.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 254 pages
  • Publisher: R&L Education (October 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1610485106
  • ISBN-13: 978-1610485104
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #720,222 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
A must read for all teachers. What would you and your colleagues create if you were given the freedom to call the shots in your school? Decide on curriculum, policy, budget, hiring, evaluation and so on. A group of academic researchers asked that question and then set about to find the answer by searching for the most autonomous teacher led schools in the country. Can teachers lead schools and do a good job? They found many schools, but choose eleven who were autonomous in at least six of ten areas to study in depth. This is a story about those eleven schools. The book is easy to read, full of quotes from real teachers in the trenches. Yes, it has all the data and graphs too, but it is an enjoyable read also, full of hope and affirmation. The researchers found that teachers created diverse but rich, humane schools which functioned with the characteristics of high-performance organizations. What happens when teachers call the shots? They create amazing, high-functioning schools where teachers love their jobs and students thrive. I am one of the teachers in one of those schools. We thought we were alone. Now we find we are part of a national movement in its infancy. This book is a call to teachers, a path to freedom to do what we love doing, teaching kids without being boss managed at every turn. Give us the ability to control the outcome, then hold us accountable for results and watch what professional, dedicated teachers can do!
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Format: Hardcover
I think that this book and the discussions are vital as we look to the future of public education. We cannot blame teachers for the failure of our education system, when we have given them little to no control over the success of their environments. They can't control who they work with, how money is spent at their school, etc. I can honestly say that I would have a very hard time ever going back into the traditional environment as I feel too much ownership over my work and for the success of my students. Ideas as simple as site based governance in a traditional district structure need to be fought for by teachers... otherwise, teachers will continue to be the scapegoats in public education. The current assumed hierarchy and staffing structures in public K-12 institutions should be experimented with, especially if we hope to intrinsically motivate teachers in their work.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
School reform has been on the agenda of politicians and educators for nearly 50 years, with very little to show for it. American students are still behind students in other countries. Students from poor families continue to have poor test scores. The dropout rate remains high. Teachers, the workers closest to the problems of educating children, have virtually no power to make changes they think will work. This book describes, in considerable detail, how the small numbers of teachers who do have full or partial autonomy to run their schools as they see fit are making a positive difference for students. Teaching is difficult and complicated work. When teachers have the power to run their own schools, rather than trying to implement the often half-baked ideas of others, they have the success we want them to have. Teachers who seek and accept autonomy, and have the guts to accept the responsibility that goes with it, can achieve great things with students. Trusting teachers is an idea whose time has come.
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Format: Hardcover
I could have easily read this book in one sitting if my schedule allowed it. If you have any interest in K-12 education, this book will grip you, draw you in, and stimulate thinking about how we can encourage more innovation in the public school system. While many school systems are managed from the top (administrators and policymakers), this book shows what can happen when teachers are given the autonomy and responsibility to make key decisions not only in the classroom, but the entire school. It offers convincing evidence that this system works.

The real life examples cited in the book show that schools already practicing this system have what many of us profess to want: innovation, active learning, more accountability, and efficient use of resources. The book also shows that teachers who call the shots are likely to innovate in their classrooms. For example, the case of Ananth Pai [...].

While this book challenges what we have accepted as "normal," I believe we will look back one day and say that it was a groundbreaking in inspiring change in K-12 education. It has found a permanent place on my bookshelf, as I plan on rereading often.
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