How do we catalyze significant progress in education? What increases the nation’s high school graduation rate, narrows achievement gaps, and helps young people, minorities in particular, attend college?
According to a recent study, about five percent of teachers feel their voices are heard and valued within their district. Two percent think their voices matter on a national level. And one-third of teachers feel completely unheard by their district.
That’s a problem. Teachers need to be heard, supported, and valued in order to optimize students education in addition to keeping schools, programs and policies effective.
The Education Department understands that failing to support teachers voices and value their expertise in the classroom has “deep implications,” the most critical is being retaining teachers. So, in 2014, the Education Department teamed up with the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards to create Teach to Lead.
The initiative aims to improve the quality of education on a national scale through the expansion of teacher leadership opportunities. According to former Education Secretary Arne Duncan, teachers are leading students and schools through a transition period: one that includes higher standards, better assessments, and more personalized learning. And while their leadership is critical, it definitely is not easy.
Schools and districts are making fundamental shifts in education culture, giving teachers a “more central role” in structuring the policies that affect their careers. On June 29th of 2015, the U.S. Education Department released a fact sheet elaborating on the initiative in hopes to gain motivation to support the expansion of the teacher empowerment initiative. A press release also highlighted the existing district and state systems currently supporting teacher leadership, shared available resources for providing new teacher leadership opportunities.
This progress has all be made possible because, nationwide, teachers are adopting more crucial leadership roles inside their classrooms to improve students education as a whole. The idea behind Teach to Lead is that by placing more value in teachers and the role they play will spill out into other facets, like highly-attended after-school programs, effective policies, and an overall higher quality of education.
The first step in acknowledging their voices? “Teachers deserve our sincerest thanks,” said Duncan.