Rethinking Teacher Voice

EXPANDING TEACHERS’ ROLES. We must reach out if we are to gain support for our work. Community organizers have valuable ways of thinking to help us understand how to do this:

  • Personality or actions? Traditionally, we think of leadership in terms of a strong-willed personality and an official position. But leading is really about what you say and do.
  • Everyone leads. In a school community, everyone exerts an influence of some kind, whether it’s quiet agreement, informal input, formal role, or vocal initiative.
  • Kinds of power.In any organization, people have positional power, gained from an official role, and/or relational power, built from individual relationships, respect, trust, and ways people communicate.
  • Becoming intentional. So we can be intentional about the roles and actions we take, to build support for our teaching, whether we’re in formal positions or not.


  • Build professional relationships – within your immediate group and across groups, in your school, with parents, and beyond.
  • Find self-interests in common. These become be basis for collaborating.
  • Use activities that appeal to multiple interests and individuals – book-reading groups, information-gathering on a specific issue, involving parents, community members, and government officials in school projects.
  • Start with easy victories. Don’t fight battles you can’t win – but don’t be overly pessimistic either.



Tell us your stories about re-thinking your role as a teacher. Submit a comment below.

One Comment to “Rethinking Teacher Voice”

  1. szemelman says:

    Go to to read Regie’s introduction. Her explanation about why teachers need to speak up apply totally today, even though it was written 17 years ago. Shows we have some work to do to make it really happen.

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