Tuesday, 8 May 2012

The Rights of a Teacher (a partial list) and other thorny issues

Teachers have always worked in collaborative groups.
Sometimes the makeup of these groups is self-selected and at other times it is not.

Disclaimer #1:  I always learn something when I work with other teachers.

Disclaimer #2:  I don't always need to work with other teachers.

I have the right to time and space to reflect on what is happening in the classroom.
I have the right to make (informed) decisions about teaching and learning because, next to my students' parents, I am the only one that knows them well enough to be able to do that.  And, the information I use to do this comes primarily from observations, conversations, and the work that children produce on a day-to-day basis.

I have the right to have a say in my profesional learning.

But, the times they are a'changing.

It is no secret that teachers are no longer trusted to do our work.
Instead, someone decided that a carrot here and there, but mostly sticks, will coerce us into doing our jobs.  (What do they think we were doing before this wave of teacher bashing and repression swept the globe?)

More and more decisions are being taken out of the classroom and into the boardroom.
I have the right to make (informed) decisions about matters that affect me and my students.  And, the information I use is based on my professional knowledge and expertise, including the many courses, workshops, inservices, observations, and professional readings, (online and otherwise), that I've accumulated over the course of my career.

Teachers are expected to do more meaningless work and think less.
I have the right to think.  My students and their parents depend on it!

This is not a good thing.  I need a good thing.
And, come to think of it, is the recent iteration of teacher teams, aka Professional Learning Communities, or PLC's, a good thing?  Not if teachers are being forced to collaborate on topics not of their own choosing in teams they did not initiate for decisions that do not resonate with their students.

So, what is this post really about?

I have been ruminating about the tension between collaboration/collegiality vs. teacher autonomy, and my rights as a teacher.

Disclaimer #3: I am an agnostic when it comes to the exclusivity attributed to PLC's to transform teaching and learning.  I've seen and experienced other possibilities.

And, given the current climate, I err on the side of autonomy.

But before I share (next week) more of what I'm thinking and why, I'd like to hear from the readers of this blog.  Do you think that working in teacher collaborative groups is more effective than working autonomously?  Why or why not?  Can teacher autonomy thrive in a climate of collaboration?  What would that look like?

Cross posted on the weekly Slice of Life at Two Writing Teachers.
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