Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. –Viktor Frankl

We believe in partnership. We believe (and adult learning research confirms) that, when teachers are treated as partners, as professionals, and as intellectual equals, real change happens.

Choice is a cornerstone of partnership. To take away my choice in a situation is to deny me partnership, equality, voice, and any sense of ownership. To engage teachers in commitment to change, and not merely compliance, choice is essential.

Instructional coaches who engage teachers as partners do not direct teachers to do anything. The teacher drives the decision-making, from choosing the goal for students, to choosing a strategy to hit the goal, to deciding whether to engage in coaching at all. These choices do not make classrooms chaotic or “loosey-goosey.” Rather, these choices let teachers know that they have value, that leaders value their ideas, their professionalism, and their commitment to making responsible choices for kids. Only in that kind of environment can lasting reform occur.

In this video, Jim Knight examines the issue of choice as important in everything from classroom instruction to cheesecake. He discusses not only the resistance that comes with insistence, but also how choice fosters responsible accountability—and the one area in which professionals have no choice.

We believe in partnership because we believe in teachers and in the power of choosing one’s own way. To create school environments that focus on growth and improvement, embrace the power of yes or no.