Arnie and Roxanne both raised some important points in their comments on my post on Curriculum Consultants earlier this week. How do you establish relationships with curriculum consultants? So I thought it might be helpful for me to share how I’ve worked with some of our consultants.
- Peeking in. Often our consultants stop by the instructional technology department to ask questions or to get assistance hooking up a presenter’s laptop to a projector. If something interesting is happening on my TV and they have a moment, they come in and watch for a little while. Sometimes I call them when I see something going on that I know they’d be interested in. They can’t always come and they aren’t always even in the building, but occasionally they see what’s happening.
- Passing by. Related to that, sometimes when I pass them in the hallway, I tell them a story of a videoconference we just did that addresses their curriculum content area.
- Network Resource Meetings. Most of our consultants offer what we call network resource meetings for our local schools. This means that in a particular building one teacher might be the math resource teacher, another teacher is the language arts resource teacher, etc. Our consultants may offer 2-4 of these meetings throughout the year. I’ve been to most of these meetings at least once or twice in the last several years. Sometimes it’s just a 5-10 minute blurb about VCs in that content area. A few times we’ve actually hooked up to a content provider for a 15-30 minute demo. It just takes asking for some time on their agenda.
- ASK Programs. Three of our content area consultants help me with ASK programs. Our language arts consultant has suggested books and resources to put in the kits. Two other consultants have helped me set up interviews with local experts: a Safe Shelter employee for the book Cracker Jackson, and a panel of people who work with the homeless in various capacities for the book Monkey Island. What’s neat about these last two relationships is that we both feel that the other person is doing all the work. They arrange and work with the expert, and I schedule the schools and help them prepare the students. I think that’s a great definition of a collaboration – when we both feel that the other is doing the majority of the work!
- Begging for help. Once the consultants are aware of VC and it’s benefits, then I can ask them for help on projects as I wrote about earlier. The trick there is to plan far enough ahead that you have a wide window of 2-4 months for them to fit it into their schedule. So I just said – here’s what I want to do and when can you meet for a couple hours so we can make sure this appropriately addresses the curriculum?
- Attending meetings & workshops. Of course, it goes the other way too. It helps to attend curriculum consultant meetings to hear what everyone is doing. It’s good to know what the state curriculum revision schedule is and who is working on writing curriculum this year. We are busy too of course, but once in a while, getting a good dose of the non technology educational training and professional development that local educators are attending is a valuable experience. See my posts on Constructing Support and Analyzing Errors and Can Teachers Do This Alone? (written after attending a curriculum directors meeting).
So, do you work with the curriculum consultants in your educational service center or district office? How did you establish the relationships and how are you collaborating with them?
We definitely still have a long way to go in our school district. I’ve been invited ONCE to speak to the group of curriculum coordinators and that was only enough time for a brief overview. I won’t give up in this effort, though, because I agree that if they could see us as a support for their initiatives and not just technical support, our efforts would be far reaching.
I was totally disappointed that after CCing our director of Academics and the Social Studies coordinator on correspondence regarding the Texas History Mystery project that we ran with Roxanne in May for three concurrent days, neither of them could “peek in” for even one session.
However, I did have one secondary math coordinator that brings in a consultant from our education service center to model lessons for math strategies classes. Rather than bring over twenty teachers across the district into the classroom, he asked that I set up the VC equipment in the room (with no monitor) and the other teachers would meet together at our Instructional Support Center and view the lesson from there. This worked out wonderfully because not only were they not disrupting the learning environment by their enormous presence, they were able to stay muted and have discussions during the modeling of the lesson.
One thing I have already done for next school year to involve the curriculum coordinators is that I pulled all of the scope and sequences for each grade level and core subject areas for the first grading period, looked up the keywords in the searchable database of content providers, formulated a list of applicable programs, sent that to the coordinator and ask that they forward to their team leaders across the district (rather than it coming from me like last year). That makes them look good and we’ve given them plenty of time to work it into their planning so that the field trips are aligned with what they are covering in the classroom.
Just a start, but I’ll take any sign of progress…
These are all great strategies too Angela! Thanks for sharing!
It takes time and multiple contacts and phone calls. Our curriculum consultants of course are as busy as we are. So we can’t get discouraged when they can’t make it to one event. Maybe the next one they’ll be able to! Keep trying! 🙂