Filling School Voids With Hybrid Roles
I've been thinking a lot about possible hybrid roles for teachers that would be meaningful and would also fill often-unnoticed voids that are present in many schools. I started by considering some of the hybrid roles I've seen this year as I have traveled to 47 schools in 20 states with my colleagues as part of The Odyssey Initiative. I've also dreamed up a few roles that I would like to see in schools (and try out for myself if I ever get the chance).
Everyone Teaches: Many schools could possibly do more with less if everyone in the school building had at least some part of their day devoted to teaching. This is not only good practice because it would help to keep everyone current in their teaching, but it could also do wonders for the culture of the school. A range of teaching time and types of teaching could be offered in the form of intervention groups, co-teaching, half-time responsibility of a classroom, or working as a reading or math specialist.
Classroom Teacher/Environment Specialist: In addition to teaching, this educator would be responsible for maintaining the physical and emotional environment of the school. They would work to ensure that the mission and vision of the school are conveyed in the way people interact in the school building and in what is present in the physical environment. Displays would have consistency. School rituals and routines would be shared with everyone and would be consistent in all-school gatherings, classroom meetings, and family events.
Classroom Teacher/Community Liaison: In addition to teaching, this educator would help to connect teachers with resources in the community. Many schools are engaging in project-based learning and this usually requires a strong connection to the surrounding community. Making these connections is difficult for teachers to do during their teaching day because it takes a lot of time and requires them to know all of the available resources in the area. Sharing projects and the needs for each project would create a streamlined process and the Community Liaison could find resources to match specific projects in each classroom.
Every possibility I have dreamed up brings me back to the same question: Who is ultimately responsible for the academic and social growth of each child? Is the classroom teacher responsible? Are the school leaders responsible? In order for hybrid roles to even be considered in a school, the staff needs to do some soul-searching and aligning and ensure that they have a shared responsibly for the students under their roof. I'm not talking about just saying that there is shared responsibility, but really putting some steps into action. When a school is able to get to that place, I imagine the types of hybrid roles that were originally dreamed up may not be the most important. New roles that directly support students and teachers may be valued over sharing the job as head or assistant school leader. The possibilities really are endless and should be made within the unique nature of each school.
Brooke Peters is a former kindergarten and 1st grade teacher in Los Angeles and New York City. As co-founder of The Odyssey Initiative, she is traveling the country, along with two other teachers, to observe, document, and share what is working in American schools. Follow their progress at @OdysseyInitiative.