Working in Curriculum is a bit of gray area. We are teachers working under the same contractual obligations as other certificated staff, but we are often not viewed that way by peers. We are more likely to be seen as administrators...or worse yet, one of the nameless "them" so often blamed for whatever is perceived as wrong with the district.
I'm thinking about being in this nebulous zone because of a conversation I had with a principal this morning. She wants some professional development around science instruction. She hopes to learn what she's looking at when she watches what's going on in a science classroom. She'd like to have the same confidence that she has when trying to help math, English, and social studies teachers---and I admire her for trying to seek out some support. In one sense, good instruction is good instruction, regardless of grade or content---but on the other hand, there are a few science specific strategies she could learn to recognize. I agreed to do a few "walkthroughs" with her.
Walkthroughs are a recent trend in education. They're not specifically meant to be evaluative, but rather tools that give administrators a chance to do short visits and then share with teachers what they saw and guide some reflection about the event. The walkthrough provides a 5 - 10 minute snapshot of a classroom over several different days during the year, rather than one or two extended sessions.
When I got back to my desk, I realized that doing the walkthroughs together to help the principal get started is a great idea. What's not a great idea is doing it with her staff...at least not together. I am not their evaluator and I really don't want to be viewed that way. Since the principal and I can't help but talk about what we see in the classrooms, then I'm not sure teachers will clearly separate that we would be doing this to help the principal learn about science...and not that we're making judgments together about things. I think it's too big of an opportunity to set up some real mistrust---and this is a science staff it looks like I'll be spending a lot of time with this year.
I sent a note to the principal and asked that we go to another school together to do a few walkthroughs. I think this might be the best way to get her the help she wants without putting a strain on her staff. I haven't heard back yet as to whether or not she'll go for that. This is one of those times where I'd prefer to stay in the gray.