In traditional schools, the role of teacher is to deliver curriculum. Modern schools are different: Teachers job is to teach students. And students are not all alike. They enter classrooms with different prior knowledge, different social and emotional skills, different academic skills, and different life experiences. This means that teachers need to have the opportunity to build relationships with students to better understand them and build the trust so that students will take risks in their learning.
Teachers also work more collaboratively. It’s too much for one teacher to know everything and try to do everything for a group of students. By working collaboratively, teachers can tap into each other’s knowledge and create more flexible grouping.
School leaders play important roles in helping teachers make and manage this shift. One of the most important things leaders do is ensure that teachers have time for collaboration and learning each week. Distributed leadership, empowering teams of teachers to be responsible for a group of students, is key because it makes teaching manageable and sustainable. The most successful districts and schools distribute roles and responsibilities across staff, developing leadership and instructional teams that work collaboratively to support student learning and deepen peer to peer learning.
Questions to Consider
- What roles do teachers in your school or district currently play? Do these roles aligned to student-centered instruction? Do they support change management and continuous improvement?
- What roles will teachers need to play as you make the transition toward modern education? What will this look like in practice?
- What opportunities do you have for teachers to differentiate and specialize?
- What distributed leadership structures do you currently have in place?
- What support will teachers need to make these shifts? How will you engage their voice and leadership in the process?