The Teacher in Residence program is designed to accommodate individual differences and, in order to customize the experience, the selected Teacher in Residence completes a Pre-Evaluation Checklist rating themselves on relevant knowledge/skills that can be addressed during the residency. A meeting of all the staff who will be involved with the Teacher in Residence convenes once the Director of Outreach and Technology receives the completed evaluation checklist in order to outline the experiences that will enable theTeacher in Residence to make progress in the areas identified as areas for improvement.
The Teachers in Residence come from various professional and experiential backgrounds so the pre-post evaluation checklist is designed to address a broad range of skills/knowledge objectives. The Teacher in Residence may be a special educator, a speech and language therapist or other service provider in their home country so the skills/knowledge objectives on the checklist are representative of a variety of disciplines. Many of the objectives are generic in nature and reflect the practice at The Bridge School. For example, all services for our students are provided and delivered within an educational context by a transdisciplinary team. Frequently, the Teacher in Residence has not had an experience working as an integral part of a professional team, so many of the experiences are designed to ensure that they develop the skills necessary to be an effective team member and to take on a leadership role in this process. The Teacher in Residence might not have had access to high-tech communication devices and know that the majority of students they serve will not have access to this equipment, however, mastering the operational and functional use of high-tech speech generating devices is a part of the Teacher in Residence experience, as it prepares them in the event they have the opportunity to provide services to someone with this level of equipment. These are examples of how the Pre-Evaluation Checklist gives the Teachers in Residence an idea of what skills/knowledge they can obtain during the residency and The Bridge School team a basis for planning the entire experience.
Mid-way of the residency, the Teacher in Residence reviews the Pre-Evaluation Checklist with the Director of Outreach and Technology and the Executive Director and discusses their progress in each of the areas that have been established as a high priority. If changes in the implementation plan need to be made based on self-reported progress, the support team at The Bridge School works with the Teacher in Residence to modify the plan according to perceived need.
At the end of the residency, the Director of Outreach and Technology brings the entire support team together with the Teacher in Residence to discuss the outcomes of the experience. The same Evaluation Checklist is used to determine the progress the Teacher in Residence has made and what, if any, follow-up needs to be planned and implemented.
Prior to arriving at the Bridge School, each Teacher in Residence completes a self-evaluation in which they rate their skills/knowledge base in the areas that will be addressed during their residency. Once they arrive at The Bridge School, an Individualized Development Plan is developed in conjunction with the Bridge School support team based on the results of their self-review.
This Development Plan clearly identifies areas in which the Teacher in Residence needs to develop skills or expand their knowledge base. In collaboration with their support team, the Teacher in Residence discusses and determines ‘Targeted Learning Contexts and Opportunities’ for the development of those skills and the acquisition of related information. This Individualized Development Plan serves as a guide for reaching established benchmarks in this process.
An example of how this plan may be completed:
Skill/Knowledge Area 1: Ability to work collaboratively with team to address physical access to a variety of communication techniques and aids.
|Skill Development Need||Targeted Learning Contexts & Opportunities|
|1 – Factors to consider in determining appropriate access site(s)||
|2 – How to assess effectiveness of placement site||
It is important for the Teacher in Residence to systematically record what they observe in the instructional program. This record is used as a part of the discussion when the Teacher in Residence meets with the Bridge School support team. The Observation Form is designed to provide focus for the observation and prompt the Teacher in Residence to consider how the activity they observed differs or is similar to activities they conduct in their own practice. The support team can use the completed Observation Form to provide clarification for any comments the Teacher in Residence might have recorded that indicate a misunderstanding or misinterpretation of the activity. It also gives the Teacher in Residence an opportunity to ask specific questions about the activity.
The Teacher in Residence, in conjunction with the Director of Outreach and Technology and the Bridge School support team, develops a Weekly Plan that details the Focus for the Week, determines in which classroom the Teacher in Residence will be working and delineates the Specific Objectives/Assignments for each portion of the day. The Focus for the Week is derived from the Development Plan and progress in the acquisition of skills/knowledge can be readily evaluated by the Teacher in Residence and the support team. The Weekly Plan can be modified as necessary to ensure that the Teacher in Residence is confident that their objectives have been met.
The weekly meetings give the Teacher in Residence ample opportunities to revisit their Development Plan, make modifications throughout the process and to self-evaluate their progress. During these meetings, the support team can answer questions the Teacher in Residence may have about their experiences/observations throughout the week. The team can also provide resource materials as necessary, guide the Teacher in Residence as to additional experiences that might be helpful and offer suggestions as to their participation in the classrooms.
Each week the Teachers in Residence prepare a Reflective Journal that is discussed with the support team. This journal helps the Teachers in Residence focus on specific situations they have observed, what they observed that was new to them and how they would incorporate the strategies into their teaching when they return to their home country. They are also encouraged to identify experiences and/or resources they might need to better understand and apply the information to their work.
The Reflective Journal is used by the Teachers in Residence and their support team as a basis for discussion about their observations and to help the support team better understand how the Teachers in Residence plan to utilize the information and training they receive during the residency when they return to their home country. It also guides the support team in planning for further exploration of a topic or a strategy.
Examples of some entries former Teachers in Residence have included in this journal follow:
The Teacher in Residence program is under the direct supervision of the Director of Outreach and Technology. The Director of Outreach and Technology serves as the primary contact person for the Teacher in Residence and organizes a dynamic and flexible support team to work with the Teacher in Residence during their stay at The Bridge School. The membership of the support team is predicated on the information provided by the applicant and the applicant’s role in their professional situation in their home country. The support team members may change throughout the residency as the need and situation requires. Team membership is made up of a special educator, a speech and language pathologist and an assistive technologist and works under the direction of the Director of Education and the Director of Outreach and Technology.
At the outset of the residency, this team works directly with the Teacher in Residence on setting goals, defining objectives, determining schedules and assessing strengths and areas of need. Once a development plan has been established, the support team provides guidance and supervision as the Teacher in Residence implements their professional development plan. The support team is responsible for meeting with the Teacher in Residence on a regular basis to discuss their progress, answer any questions, provide clarification of concepts and processes, and in general, guiding the residency experience.
The support team, in consultation with the Director of Outreach and Technology and the Executive Director, makes recommendations as to conferences that might enhance the residency experience, suggestions for courses at universities to expand the Teacher in Residence’s knowledge base and identifies other educational programs that the resident might visit to gain more information about intervention programs for children with severe physical impairments and complex communication needs.