During my time as a student in the High Tech High Graduate School of Education, Teacher Leadership Program, I completed a two-year research inquiry on democratic classrooms, authority and my role as a teacher.
Inquiry Question: What happens when I share authority with students?
Many notions of “school” include a teacher who has authority and students who are expected to comply. This traditional outlook creates an environment where teacher directed curriculum and decisions are the norm. My study examines what happened when I shared authority with twenty-eight 8th grade students at High Tech Middle, a project based charter school in San Diego, California. My journey started with building a cohesive classroom culture through activities and opportunities for student collaboration. By using a community meeting strategy called the “Friday Forum,” I found classroom cultures that embrace student voice empower students to discuss difficult topics and develop a system of shared values. My findings reveal the challenges and potential of creating a cohesive classroom community.