As more and more writing projects move their work with schools into longterm partnership models, we see projects wrestling with (struggling with) whole new areas of practice in organizational intervention and development. It's a step beyond our near-at-hand processes of creating and sharing practice to reach into areas like team-building, whole school models for studying and improving practice, or working through faculty and administrative dynamics. In some cases we are fortunate at our projects to have deep experience in the TCs at the site. But in other cases, this work is very new.
One researcher who thinks about school reform with an eye on practice is Richard Elmore. Elmore frequently talks about "the instructional core": the interactions of teachers and students in the classroom in the presence of content. His argument is that if you are not affecting the instructional core, you're not improving education for students. I think this is an approach that resonates with many of us in the NWP: our attention has always been on the instructional core. But we've also seen, perhaps in our own practice, that the instructional core is shaped by and in often limited by the larger organizational structures and culture of the school. At this juncture, we run into the interests of other approaches to school reform.
Writing project leaders interested in exploring how folks think who try to straddle more structural approaches yet still focus on practice might be interested in working through a free, online PD program that draws on Richard Elmore's ideas. It is called Success at the Core: How Teams and Teachers Transform Instruction. Success at the Core is a free, web-based series of PD modules, full of video and materials, designed to support teacher leaders and instructional teams at schools. Working through the videos and materials, perhaps with colleagues at your writing project site, might serve as a way to support discussions about how to plan work with schools that your site would design and develop. The online resources seem flexible and open for folks to 'sample' and might make an interesting continuity program.
Check the website out at http://www.successatthecore.com/
Something to think about...