red Supported Site Towson University (Elementary): Teacher-In-Residence

Successes

  • The teachers-in-residence participated in a number of different activities that contributed to the overall success of our project. These activities included: providing ongoing support for full- and part-time field experience instructors; making official and unofficial class observations; collecting and analyzing survey data; attending and presenting at teacher preparation conferences; and serving as liaisons between the field experience sites and the Towson faculty. The first year’s TIR was especially instrumental in defining the direction of our project.
  • The project team maintains contact with former TIRs, and one of the project PIs continues to conduct teaching and professional development research with our Year 1 TIR.

Challenges

  • Due to the extraordinary amount of start-up activity during the project’s first year, Towson’s first teacher-in-residence was positioned to make the greatest contribution to the project. Subsequent teachers-in-residence had less of an impact on the project simply because the bulk of the project logistics and goals had already been established in Year 1.
  • Given Towson’s specific focus on inquiry-based instruction, it became a hiring challenge to identify and recruit TIRs with a good understanding of inquiry (or at least an open-mindedness towards inquiry).

Sustainability

  • The Towson PIs have learned that there is administrative support for the hiring of a full-time TIR-type position starting with the 2008-2009 academic year. The PIs will need to continue our ongoing discussions with the Dean and Provost to ensure that the money for this position actually comes through. If this money does not materialize, it is unlikely that the project successes will be sustained.

Lessons Learned

  • Given the high degree of vagueness with which instructors and researchers use the word “inquiry,” it is unlikely that a TIR’s initial understanding of inquiry will be fully commensurate with the PI’s understanding of inquiry. It should therefore be expected that TIRs will experience project-related professional development (both formal and informal) that will help redefine the TIR’s understanding of science teaching and inquiry.

List of TIRs across the project

2006-2007: Ann Craig, taught school for 20 years and worked as an Instructional Support Teacher/Academic Coach for 13 years in the Baltimore Public School System, Baltimore, MD

2006-2007: Corby Pine, taught school for 18 years at various schools in Maryland and Virginia

2005-2006: Elizabeth Renwick, taught school for 15 years at Sinclair Lane Elementary, Baltimore, MD

2004-2005: Lisa Tirocchi, taught school for 4 years at Johnnycake Elementary, Baltimore, MD

Finding and Hiring a TIR

  • The pool of candidates for our first-year TIR position was identified by emailing all of the teachers on Baltimore County Schools’ “Elementary Science Leaders” list. Interviews were then conducted to identify the TIR. The entire process was done in coordination with the superintendent, the science supervisor, and the elementary science coordinator.
  • After obtaining permission from the Chief Academic Officer of the Baltimore City Public Schools System, we advertised for our second-year TIR position using the BCPSS internal job listings. The BCPSS forwarded applications to the project PIs, and interviews were conducted to identify the TIR.
  • Our third-year TIR positions (which were part-time rather than full-time) were filled internally with two of our department’s part-time faculty, both of whom had previously been elementary teachers.

Typical TIR Activities

  • Preparing for and attending weekly project meetings: 60 hours
  • Informal observations of science education courses and host school sites: 50 hours
  • Designing assessments; collecting and analyzing assessment data: 150 hours
  • Planning and implementing instructor and mentor teacher workshops: 40 hours
  • Attending and presenting at national project meetings: 25 hours
  • Filling out payment paperwork for participating mentor teachers and schools: 8 hours
  • Course reform activities (e.g., updating the resource folder, communications with course instructors, informal meetings with PIs): 150 hours
  • Responding to TIR listserv prompts and participating in other PhysTEC listserv discussions: 40 hours
  • Planning and hosting site visits by project management: 10 hours
  • Reading and researching articles related to teacher professional development: 20 hours
  • Mentoring of replacement teacher and other work at TIR’s home elementary school
  • (Years 1 and 2 only): 300 hours