When I taught in the Seattle area, I often referred to the school as "my school." A sense of ownership existed within my mind, a sense of intellectual property. This ownership evolved for what two reasons. One, the school (and by school I mean the staff, students, and administration) partnered with me. And two, a mutual investment had been made.
Ownership in any form has signficant meaning. When I finally payed off my first car, a sense of pride welled up within me. I had partnered with the loan agency and I had invested time and money into the vehicle.
What impact do we have when we have ownership of our schools? For example, I rarely refer to the school I teach at currently as "my school." And the reasons are the antithesis to the reasons I felt ownership of my previous school.
First, I have yet to experience a partnership with my staff, students, and administration--though I have made strong recent efforts with the latter. There is a strong individuality that exists at this school. Most teachers want to be left alone in their classrooms to repeat what they have done for the preceeding years. The student body as a whole would prefer to go about their business, dropping F-Bombs, skipping classes, and performing the bare minimum to get by. And the administration occupies its time with their idealogies and pet initiatives.
At my previous school, though not perfect, I always felt that my colleagues were willing to learn from each other, that my students generally wanted the opportunities we provided, and the administration at the very least took our ideas under careful consideration.
But more important than the partnership I experienced while there was the investment into me. Because my peers and my administration invested into making me a better teacher, and because my students invested time and energy into learning what I presented, I invested my heart and mind into all of them. I desperately wanted to succeed because of their investment. It made me a better teacher and a better human being.
Unfortunately, I have not experienced that same investment at the school I currently teach at. I suspect that I was hired because the administration saw potential that they could use. But I won't reach my potential unless they invest time and knowledge into me.
I want to have ownership of where I teach. I want to experience partnership and investment. If schools want to succeed, they might begin to partner with their teachers, and invest into them.