I wonder how many people have misconceptions about what value people at the “Board” or “District” bring to the system? What do they do all day? Do they have any idea about the challenges in the classroom? There is a movement for teacher-directed schools–why not extend that to the District level? Teachers in classrooms are awesome and do amazing work for students, but I just want to take a moment to recognize the good work of Central staff and highlight their awesomeness!
Connecting the dots
There are definite benefits to being in a central position when it comes to professional learning and time. In my role I have been able to dialogue about assessment, inquiry-based learning, technology-enabled learning, etc…in ways that classroom teachers often cannot. I have attended workshops and conferences. BUT, then what is significant is that this learning is shared. Whether I am in a workroom, at a conference, on Twitter, or on Voxer, I am talking and listening to other Central staff who are constantly researching, iterating, reflecting, and trying new things. District level central staff help connect the dots, make sense of all the policies, and create interactive learning opportunities for teachers who do not have the time to do this.
The power of “Co”
I love this expression by my colleague and friend, Lori Lisi. When resource staff (regardless of their title) co-plan, co-teach, and co-debrief you have a learning partner: a critical friend. And not one who has the answers, but someone who is on the journey with you, with whom you can try out something new, reflect on the impact it made, and then try again. Sometimes, it only takes a minor tweak to get from good to great and an outside perspective can help. And being in a classroom, means that theory and practice can come together in a way that makes an impact on student learning.
I had the privilege of chatting with Dean Shareski the other day and the conversation led to what he did as a Digital Learning Consultant prior to his role as Community Manager at Discovery Canada and how the value of the role is the human touch. Just as technology cannot replace a good teacher, the value of having a human being that is a resource teacher cannot be underestimated. Sure I can google a lesson plan and make it work well, but having a knowledgeable and passionate educator along with you on the journey, whose sole role is to support you cannot be compared to anything else. As Dean so aptly put it, a person at the central level is the ultimate connector–they can offer a connection, a personalized suggestion or resource that is relevant to you at the moment when you need it. You can’t get that from Google.
To all the Program Resource Teachers, Student Work Study Teachers, Teachers on Special Assignment, Digital Learning Resource Teachers, Consultants, whatever you are called…