How To Engage Teachers In Reform
Build Trust Through Transparency
By engaging teachers in the process of the development or refinement of state evaluation systems, a new level of trust and collaboration can be established that can lead ultimately to improved relationships in other areas of reform.
Teachers interviewed by Hope Street Group stressed that states should also be transparent about how members of these groups are selected. K. Walsh, a reading specialist from Delaware, noted that there might have been more interest from teachers in her state if the state had started the process by clearly stating the goals of the new evaluation system.
Work with Third Parties
States should have tools and guidance ready to deploy, some of which can be provided by third parties. Deb Stevens, director of instructional advocacy for the Delaware State Education Association, notes that these external groups can be most useful as conduits, honest brokers and facilitators when properly prepared in advance. “Third parties can assist with technology, ideas and other aspects of development of implementation but should gain understanding of state’s culture and needs in the beginning,” she said.
States should create ample opportunities to engage and encourage responses from everyone, including those who don’t immediately volunteer to help. Nobody should be turned away or left out.
Involve as Many Teachers as Possible
States should create ample opportunities to engage and encourage responses from everyone, including those who don’t immediately volunteer to help. Nobody should be turned away or left out. That said, as members of advisory committees are selected, policymakers should also be conscious that the educator representatives reflect spectrum of educators across the state: race, gender, geography, school type, grade level, subject, etc.
Learn From Other Public Institutions
Lessons from other public sector-agencies also are applicable. Tennessee’s Department of Transportation developed a Public Involvement Plan to meet federal requirements for community engagement, and incorporated many strategies that could be useful for states seeking to broaden their outreach to teachers. The plan called for the development of a range of activities to build awareness, understanding, support and involvement. As a result the state launched a multitude of efforts including a massive expansion of its media outreach; the distribution of informational materials in public places like libraries, schools and government buildings; the use of interpreters; increased visibility of the Department’s toll-free number as a method to obtain additional input; and the placement of staffed information booths at regional and statewide public events.