Recently my school was lucky to be part of the Iowa Teacher Leadership Grant that allows us to gain funds to support the hiring and placing of teacher leaders into positions to help our school improve and move forward. The grant money goes towards paying for various positions such as Teachers on Special Assignment (TOSAs), Instructional Coaches, Mentor Teachers, and Model Teachers. Each position will play a part in helping our schools improve and move forward. You can find out more about our process at the site that was created to help our teachers apply for the positions and get more information at https://sites.google.com/a/ames.k12.ia.us/ames-tlc/home.
My current role in the district is as the Technology Integration Specialist at the high school. What many do not realize is that although I have a different title, I am an Instructional Coach. I perform the role and duties of an Instructional Coach while also having to focus on the role of a technology integrationist. I attend our weekly PLC meeting and take part in our Cognitive Coaching training and practice. I help lead our professional development as part of our QILT (Quality Instructional Leadership Team) and our MTSS (known as RTI in other states) team. I meet with building and district leadership to analyze and implement other forms of professional development. I also frequently meet with the other instructional coaches to plan and implement professional development on a large and small scale as well as reflect afterwards in order to help make sure we are moving forward. I meet with students and even get the chance to co-teach from time to time in the classroom. I curate resources and develop tools to help teachers as they implement new teaching methods in the classroom.
While that seems like a lot, my job is flexible enough that there are many other things I could do in order to help students and teachers. The interesting thing that as part of the grant process, which is dictated by the state, I am now having to apply for the job I already have. This process is to make sure we have the right people in the positions we have and this will be helpful as part of our evaluation process as the questions that are asked to those applying, are great for us to reflect on the work that we are doing. The questions are actually helping me to reflect on the work that I am doing and I am thinking of ways that I can improve, which is something that we all should be doing from time to time. We need to make sure we are meeting our own goals and maybe something like this is something we all should be doing periodically, making sure we are still qualified for the position that we hold. A nice part of this process is the inclusion of 3 recommendations from our peers. I decided to go the digital route, go figure, and video record my recommendations for easier inclusion. This has been a nice little confidence boost as I am reminded of some of the work that I have done and how it impacts teachers, and students.
My question for others – Why do we not reflect more often on how well we are meeting our goals and if we are still qualified to do what we are doing? The day that I stop reflecting and improving is the day that I retire as I can not be a teacher who isn’t also a learner.