Cage-Busting Teacher 101 – What is Cage-Busting?

April 28th, 2015

Category: News, Policy and Practice, Student-Centered Learning


Today, education policy researcher Rick Hess releases his new book, The Cage-Busting Teacher. The book is a follow up to his Cage-Busting Leadership, and explores how teachers can break out of familiar constraints to influence classroom practice, education policy, and school reform.

I’ll let Rick explain the concept:

Here’s a quick excerpt from the book detailing what cage-busting is:

“Cage-busting is concrete, precise, and practical. It asks what the problem is, seeks workable solutions, and figures out how to put those into practice. It asks precisely why schools are doing this and tallies the number of minutes wasted annually by demanding that. Cage-busting teachers are less interested in what policy makers or district leaders ought to do than in how teachers can make those things happen.
Cage-busting teachers don’t necessarily grab attention. What they do can often seem like nothing more than the commonsense behavior of a savvy professional. Guess what? That is cage-busting. Cage-busting is not about garnering headlines or picking fights; it’s about creating great communities of teaching and learning, one step at a time.
Most teachers have limited experience leading adults, thinking about systems, or talking policy. Thus, even when problems are obvious and sensible solutions easy to imagine, teachers can stumble. It needn’t be this hard. Teacher frequently try to lead by squeezing through the bars of the cage—to move steel through sheer force of will. Cage-busting is about going at things differently so that life is less exhausting, opportunities more plentiful, and efforts more rewarding.”


Throughout the book, Rick shares stories from teachers he’s met that illustrate the concepts of cage-busting. He met with the Rodel Teacher Council in 2013 and shares anecdotes from his interactions with Council members. Over the next few weeks, we’ll feature chats between Robyn Howton and Tim Brewer, members of the Rodel Teacher Council, discussing cage-busting and how they have used some of Rick’s tips during their careers. So stay tuned and come back next Tuesday to hear from these cage-busting Delaware teachers.

Do you feel like a cage-busting teacher? Have you worked with a cage-busting teacher? Consider applying or nominating a colleague for the Rodel Teacher Council! Application deadline is May 8.

Rachel Wiggans Chan



More from: News

Remembering MLK Through the Next Generation

January 20th, 2023

Author: Paul Herdman

Parent Advocacy Leads to New, More Accessible Online Kindergarten Registration System

November 2nd, 2022

Author: Alejandra Villamares

We Knew State and National Test Scores Would Drop. Now Let’s Get to Work.

October 26th, 2022

Author: Paul Herdman