So, What Exactly Is My Job?

I have enjoyed reading all of the posts about favorite classroom things and classroom structures...so that made me think: what is the "structure" of my job?  Next year, I will have a new job partner, a new head principal, and our district has completely restructured the upper echelon, so I thought it would be wise to pinpoint a few things, just in case anyone else asked about my job. ;)


My job title is "Instructional Specialist," and my job description in one sentence is that I spend my time supporting teachers and students as we work to fulfill school and district goals.  (Oh, I also teach two math classes.)  I have no administrative power, but I'm involved in a lot of school stuff, so I do have quite a bit of influence in campus decisions.  The IS job looks different on each campus, based on each school's priorities.

Last year, my IS partner and I decided we needed more focus for our jobs, so we posted a list of our priorities.  When people started asking about this or that, we asked, "Is that on our yellow sheet?" and it made it a bit easier to say "NO, I don't think we can do that." (I admit we often stretched a lot of our job responsibilities to fit categories on the yellow sheet!)



My schedule is very erratic each week.  I attend PLC (common planning) meetings for math and social studies.  I work with new teachers, I support our mentor teachers, and I pretty much am "on call" for any teacher who needs help...with lessons, tutoring plans, technology, classroom management, group work, intervention plans, testing...  We plan our site-based staff development, and we plan all meetings and professional development for our new teachers. I write and monitor our Campus Improvement Plan, plan all of our Instructional Leadership Team meetings, and visit as many classrooms as possible.  After reading Simon Sinek, we created a WHY for the Instructional Specialists, which is "Every day, make someone's life better," so bottom line, we look for ways we can help others.  (For a second WHY, we also borrowed Home Depot's motto: "You can do it, we can help!")






When I started my job as IS, the best information I received was "Your time is not your own," and that is absolutely true, although I usually have free time between 7:00 - 7:25 AM. ;) Our office is very centrally located in the building, and we have one of our test scan machines in our office, so our office door is always open, and I'm glad we have cultivated the feeling of trust and belonging in our office.  We host planning meetings and informal meetings in our office.  Teachers seem to love being in here (but that could also be because we have a few super comfy chairs and a coffee pot!)


Because I float and do not have a classroom, I frequently have tutoring in my office.  I have seating for about 12 in the office, and my students seem to enjoy hanging out in here as much as the teachers do.



Last year, I followed the trend on Pinterest, and created the door signs for our office door.  These signs made me happy every time I entered.  

My other office favorite is my collection of college pennants, donated by some of my former graduates.




Fun times on my job: last year for our new teacher in-service on campus, we had the cutest set-up, complete with a decorated classroom, personalized magnets, and breakfast.  At 8:00 AM, we decided the air-conditioning was definitely not working (and we're talking about August in Texas) so we ran around the building to find another suitable room for our supplies and 25 new teachers (but missing the cute set-up!) :(

A "real" fun part of the job: we're told, "Make certain that you do something to honor your mentor teachers!" so in some cases, we get to be party planners. :)




My creative talents were also put to the test when the district wanted schools to create technology-themed centerpieces for their Summer Leadership Meetings...and guess who was assigned to create that centerpiece?  Of course, the ISs will enjoy doing that!   (We did win 3rd place, which got us the new coffee pot, one of the office favorites, though!)


Oh yes, we need a two-minute video of what your school is doing to implement differentiated instruction.  Show what you've done and your plan for the future, and it must be in iMovie format, and it's due in three days... who does this on our campus?   (I loved learning how to use iMovie, though.)  





During my first year as an IS, one of the most challenging aspects of my job was that I allowed my instructional specialist responsibilities to creep into my classroom.  Teachers would stop by during class and ask questions, I would check email during class and learn that someone needed something now, and I tried to address all issues at all times.  The last few years, I promised my students that during our class period, I would be completely devoted to them.   I try to warn them when my IS job schedule interferes with the week (and limits tutoring, for example) but I communicate with my students via my website or email, and my math colleagues jump in to help with tutoring and make-ups.

At times, I really miss my own classroom and a schedule full of math classes; however, I love my job supporting teachers and students.   I enjoy working with and learning about other content areas, and I love the professional development side of my job. Side note: according to my FitBit, I average about 7,000 steps a day while at school, but in May during testing season (EOC tests and I proctored a bunch of AP tests) I got about 11,000 steps per day.  As with all teachers, I love that my job changes daily. Flexibility is always the key, right? I have learned so much on this job, and I have appreciated all of the new learning and growing opportunities.

Are there instructional coaches on your campus?  What are their job descriptions?
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About Kathryn Laster

I love teaching, learning, and sharing!
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