The power of teacher voice: Understanding interagency relationships in schools

Andrea Thomas-Reynolds, University of Pennsylvania


Say Yes to Education (Say Yes) is a non-profit organization that provides academic enrichment and social services support to a cohort of students in a Philadelphia public school. Critical to the success of the Say Yes Program is its ability to work collaboratively with teachers to enhance the academic success and progress of its students. This study seeks to understand the nature of collaboration with Say Yes, as an external organization, working within the existing culture of an urban public school. This study recognizes the importance of power and authority roles in the school and how that influences the nature of the collaboration efforts between the two organizations. This research also privileges the voices of the teachers to understand how they conceptualize the Say Yes Program and how it positions itself within the local context of the school. Data in this study consists of the collection of journals maintained by the teachers during a six-week summer academic program, field notes from observations of focus groups, and audio transcripts from semi-structured interviews conducted with the participants. In addition to understanding the school's culture, a thematic analysis of the data identifies two factors essential to the success of this initiative. These themes highlight a perceived mutual benefit for all participants and the inclusion of teachers as valued stakeholders in the initiative. In this study, Say Yes lacks formal authority and power in the school. As a result, the organization only has windows of opportunities to appeal to the teachers' interests as a means to work more collaboratively with them. The extent of the collaborative efforts depends upon the authentic engagement of teachers, the level of shared risk-taking, shared ownership, and the willingness of the teachers to participate in the initiative. This research suggests that the teachers' participation and inclusion during the decision-making and implementation phase of this initiative recognizes their power in the school. As a result, without teachers' interests and active participation, educational initiatives in schools are challenged from the start.

Subject Area

Teacher education|Social work

Recommended Citation

Thomas-Reynolds, Andrea, "The power of teacher voice: Understanding interagency relationships in schools" (2005). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3168050.