It’s no secret that teachers’ creativity shines in the way they lay out their classrooms, utilizing their freedom to decorate their rooms in ways that inspire students, Sujatta Bhatt, a senior fellow at non-profit Transcend and instructor at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education’s Education Entrepreneurship Program, writes for EdSurge.
Bhatt suggests that this creativity also transcends the classroom to sound ideas for designing the way education is actually delivered and school design as a whole, arguing that it is time for their inclusion in the decision-making process at all levels.
Bhatt points out that the National Education Association urges teachers to use their own creativity in a way that inspires students to tap into their own, and with artificial intelligence replacing labor, that creativity will be what makes today's students irreplaceable in their future careers.
As the education system evolves to develop students with more creative problem-solving skills, teachers remain the strongest — and often most untapped — resources in a district. Those that recognize the value of teachers’ opinions will be the ones that save time and money in the long run. This follows the growing trend of implementing a bottom-up approach to change in the education decision-making mechanism, as a number of districts are giving teachers more authority to make the changes they feel would most benefit students.
For example, teachers at Impact Academy at Orchard Lake in Minnesota were given the autonomy to make decisions about everything from taking out walls in the school for more open classrooms to allowing students to work across different grade levels based on their ability in different subjects.
The broader Teacher-Powered initiative connects those interested in creating student-centered schools by flipping the top-down administrative approach. This approach improves job satisfaction, which may end up being a big issue in the 2020 presidential election. Already, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten is gearing up to unite the 1.7 million member union during the upcoming presidential election, as the increase in teacher strikes in recent years pushes education's importance at the ballot box.
Though most teachers go into the profession because they love what they do, they are not compensated for the responsibility they have versus the support they receive. Nationwide, 19.9% of households led by teachers are burdened by housing costs, and teachers earn 27.4% less than other college-educated professionals. Given these statistics, prioritizing an increase in bottom-up decision-making could also serve as a strong first step toward boosting teachers’ job satisfaction.