Saturday, April 15, 2006

I recently sat in a meeting with some school administrators who told me about the state's investment (via an allocation of funding from the legislature) in "instructional facilitators" for school districts. These are teachers whose job will be to work with other teachers on improving instruction. My sense is that these IFs will be working particularly with math and literacy skills across the curriculum, especially at the secondary level. Many school districts in the state are now frantically getting their paperwork in line so that they can hire several IFs per school. For example in the district I mentioned above, they will be hiring 36 new IFs, mostly classroom teachers who will come out of their classrooms to work with other teachers.
This trend has been common in elementary classrooms, particularly in terms of teachers called "literacy coaches" -- this has a special meaning for schools involved in the Reading First work.
But in secondary schools, it's a fairly new idea.

Of course, as soon as I heard about this, my research mode kicked in. A colleague and I have something planned, something I am very excited about, to take a look in a mixed method format at what happens in secondary schools when IFs are provided to help teachers. Still in the planning stages, but I'm excited about it.

The whole IF thing also raises some questions in my mind:
* What kind of teachers will volunteer to step out of their classrooms and work with other teachers? Will they be (and this is my hope) the ones who are master teachers, who are keenly interested in improving instruction and who can work well with other teachers? Or will they be the ones who are sick and tired of being in the classroom and see IF work as an easier, less stressful option?
* Will these IFs be able to work with teachers? I mean, in my experience, there are some teachers who are seriously interested in changing/improving their craft (the easy and lovely ones to work with) and then there are those who would not change if a fire was lit under their ass. How successful will these IFs be with the latter? What will stand in their way? What will facilitate their work?
* Ultimately, we will want to see improvement in student achievement. Will this happen?
* What does this do to the principal's responsibility as an Instructional Leader?

In the meantime, while this work is in the planning stages, the chapters are beginning to roll in for the two editing jobs I've agreed to. Exciting stuff.

And my class in Casper is over for the semester (except for the grading) and I'm suddenly freed up a bit to get some writing done. Hooray!

1 comment:

Lisa said...

How bizarre. I'm in a class on blogging, wikis, and podcasts. Instead of searching for NFL draft, which was the example, I typed in instructional facilitator, and there you were, the third hit. It's a small world after all...it's a small world after all...ok enough of that.

The IF job is starting full-swing even though I haven't technically begun. I will have been out of my classroom 3 days this week for a Project CRISS training and two days for a training May 8 and 9 in Denver on the cooperation between the principal and the IF. It will be tough leaving my kids with subs for so many days. They're getting shortchanged this last month of school.

Lisa Smith - Casper