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Teacher teams gather in Minneapolis for first Teacher-Powered Schools Conference

Across the country, a growing number of educators are transforming student learning and the teaching profession in new ways through teacher-powered schools. More than 220 of these educators representing 23 states gathered in Minneapolis, MN, for the first Teacher-Powered Schools National Conference. 

The conference kicked off with a tour of Avalon School in St. Paul, MN—which has been teacher-powered since 2001—followed by a mock meeting with the teacher team to demonstrate how the school is run and a question-and-answer panel with students.

“We are able to learn about collaboration by watching our teachers collaborate,” said Avalon School student Delia Grimes about the impact the teacher-powered model has had on her education. “We see our teachers aren’t just coworkers. They’re a team and they look up to each other.”

The conference—moderated by Kim Farris-Berg and Lori Nazareno—featured teacher-powered practitioners sharing how they are collaboratively designing and running all aspects of their schools. Session presenters spoke on securing and sustaining school autonomy, distributing leadership among teacher teams, and demonstrating student success beyond test scores.

“Teacher-powered schools put a new spin on the concept of ‘teacher leadership,'” said Kim Farris-Berg, lead author of Trusting Teachers with School Success. “The idea behind these schools is to give decision-making authority over student and school success into the hands of those who know and understand students—the teachers.”

    Several schools and individuals were recognized at the conference for their achievements in advancing the teacher-powered schools movement:

    • Teacher-Powered Schools Initiative School-Union-District Partnership Award: Reiche School Team of Teachers; Portland Education Schools and Portland Public Schools;
    • Teacher-Powered Schools Initiative Advancements in Research Award: Dr. Richard Ingersoll, Professor of Education and Sociology, University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education; and
    • Teacher-Powered Schools Initiative Extraordinary Achievement Award: Avalon School Team of Teachers; Social Justice Humanitas Academy Team of Teachers.

    Conference attendees were given the chance to incorporate and adapt lessons learned into their school designs by engaging in workshops with their teacher teams at a post-conference design day.

    The Teacher-Powered Schools Initiative is a joint project of the Center for Teaching Quality and Education Evolving. For more information and for a complete list of teacher-powered schools, visit www.teacherpoweredschools.org.