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Cast Out the Consultants and Give Teachers More Input

Evin Shinn

The problem of nomadic consultants has been around since I first started as a teacher seven years ago.

This is typically how it goes: a building or district discovers a problem of practice in instruction and determines to fix it. The district then hires someone from 'outside' to fix said problem for an exorbitant amount of money. Studio days ensue where teachers must take paid days off of work to watch a teacher instruct their typical lesson and the remainder of the day in spent picking apart the teacher practice.

Eventually, after about 10 full days of this work through the year, the consultant leaves with fuller pockets and teachers are still bankrupt of ongoing professional development with someone within the district or building that has a continued investment in the students.

Maybe it's me, but I don't want to talk to someone who used to be a teacher. I want to someone who tried what he or she is asking me to try and failed miserably, but learned something new about his or her students. I want their wisdom. I want them to enter into my pedagogical journey and I theirs.

I want them to know my students.

When I moved to my new school this year, I saw something strange: teachers leading the professional development; administrators stepping aside and having a team of teachers leading what they think instruction needs to be looking like at their school.

With their colleagues.

If we want great teachers to continue to be in the classroom and shape school and curriculum decisions, then the district leaders and administrators must lift teachers up and equip them to take the lead from the classroom. Teachers often don't want to leave the classroom, but in order for them to make instructional decisions, district leaders say that said teachers are to be headquartered at the central office. If teachers love teaching and they want to do what they love and want to encourage others to do the same, then isn't their classroom the best demo to watch the chemistry in action?

Are extra planning periods great? Sure.

More pay nice? Absolutely.

Equipping teachers to teach teachers from their own classroom to change a site's instruction? Unequivocably yes.

Read more of this edition of Teaching Ahead: Restructuring Teachers' Time.

A social studies teacher at Cleveland High School in Seattle, Evin Shinn is passionate about mentoring new teachers, creating career pathways for current teachers, and finding out who will win the mirror ball trophy on "Dancing With the Stars." Follow him on Twitter @baritoneblogger.

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