The Greeks, as they say, had a word for it.
Last year, our grade level was at war. It was so bad that the principal had to sit in on our meetings. This year, things are much smoother. We all use the same lesson plan. We have a team texting group and we communicate about all kinds of things from absences to photo day and we were recently able to synchronize our learning block schedules without input from the “higher ups.”
Democracy is not big in school management. But it is my secret to succeeding as a grade chair.
Demo-cracy means, in Greek, people-rule, and was shown in antiquity to be a powerful human organization strategy. It can be argued that it allowed the Greeks to defeat the Persian empire, a much wealthier and more populous state, because of its power to motivate people and organize resources.
But can teachers really rule themselves cooperatively? Yes, they can. Democracy at the grade level is easy to implement. In meetings, you allow every individual on the team the maximum possible voice and autonomy, and when there’s a problem, like a need to change the lesson planning schedule, you let everyone speak until a consensus is clear. Instead of imposing your own ideas, you let colleagues discuss and, if necessary, vote. When everyone has a voice, everyone feels connected, and people start to get along. Friendliness emerges and team spirit.
Can it really be so simple? Yes, through the idea of one teacher, one voice, one vote, life on the hallway can be improved. There’s still going to be storms of various types, but for the everyday processes of grade level life, democracy is the way.
I wonder if a whole school could be run this way? Perhaps, but it’s rarely tried.