Professional Development Letter to the Editor

Giving Teachers a Voice

October 30, 2018 1 min read

To the Editor:

Tennessee Teacher of the Year Derek Voiles recently wrote a blog post (“Want to Improve Schools? Look to Teacher Leaders,” Teacher-Leader Voices blog, September 18, 2018) about teacher leadership. In Mississippi, we’ve learned a lot about how to elevate the voices of teachers from our neighbors in Tennessee—and from our own teachers who have played a major role in shaping the policies leading to unprecedented academic growth.

Anna Morris, a 2nd grade teacher at Oak Grove Lower Elementary in Hattiesburg, Miss., and our 2016 Teacher of the Year, spoke on the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) podcast. She believes teachers “should have a foot in policy and a foot inside [the] classroom door” because “what [teachers] create becomes [their] students’ reality.”

Since I became state superintendent, we have worked to engage teachers in policy decisions. We expanded outreach to teachers and partnered with Chiefs for Change. The bipartisan network of state and district education leaders introduced us to teacher leadership models from Tennessee, Louisiana, and New Mexico, and this helped us develop our own strategy.

We created a teacher advisory council that’s partnering with us to overhaul professional development programs and build resources to help teachers identify high-quality instructional materials. Recently, we announced two other exciting teacher leadership initiatives: a fellowship to support teachers in promoting policies they believe best meet their students’ needs and a pilot in which outstanding teachers will coach other educators and mentor those who are new to the profession.

The impact of empowering teachers can be seen in our state’s latest NAEP results. Mississippi is one of only several states that demonstrated significant growth. I’m pleased with our progress and am glad to see state school chiefs engaging teachers in policy decisions. When we give teachers opportunities and support, they’re willing and ready to lead—and when we listen to teachers, we realize just how much we can learn from them.

Carey Wright

Mississippi State Superintendent of Education

Member of Chiefs for Change

Jackson, Miss.

A version of this article appeared in the October 31, 2018 edition of Education Week as Giving Teachers a Voice


Classroom Technology Webinar Making Big Technology Decisions: Advice for District Leaders, Principals, and Teachers
Educators at all levels make decisions that can have a huge impact on students. That’s especially true when it comes to the use of technology, which was activated like never before to help students learn
Professional Development Webinar Expand Digital Learning by Expanding Teacher Training
This discussion will examine how things have changed and offer guidance on smart, cost-effective ways to expand digital learning efforts and train teachers to maximize the use of new technologies for learning.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
The Social-Emotional Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on American Schoolchildren
Hear new findings from an analysis of our 300 million student survey responses along with district leaders on new trends in student SEL.
Content provided by Panorama

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Professional Development Return of the In-Person Edu-Conference: Elementary Principals' Group to Meet in Chicago
Registration for the organization's first in-person conference since the pandemic started is keeping apace with that of previous years.
4 min read
Abstract blurred image of attendees in seminar room or conference hall and social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. new normal life concept.
Pratchaya/iStock/Getty Images Plus
Professional Development Some Kids Had a 'Choppy' K-12 Experience This Year. ISTE Will Explore Solutions
Big themes at this year's online-only ed-tech conference will include acceleration and finding K-12's way in a new, more virtual world.
2 min read
Image of a student working on a computer from home.
Professional Development How to Fix 7 Fatal Flaws in Tech Professional Development
One silver lining of the pandemic is that it forced some districts to rethink their PD priorities and find new ways of training teachers.
8 min read
A team analyses data and tracks progress
Vanessa Solis/Education Week and iStock/Getty Images Plus
Professional Development Opinion How Can Coaches Use a Cycle of Inquiry to Establish Themselves and Help Others?
A cycle of inquiry can both help coaches establish themselves and help those they coach develop areas of improvement.
10 min read
shutterstock 546692113