How to Implement a School-wide Teacher Support Program

  • Administrative support
    A Guided Journaling Teacher Support Group may be operated by a school, school districts or a consortia of districts. Schools can implement this program on their own,  in partnership with other schools, in association with a local teachers association, a college or university, or a state department of education.

    A Guided Journaling Teacher Support Group makes minimal demands on the district and school resources. It is relatively low-cost and time effective.

    Participation in support groups can be increased by providing release time for teachers and group leaders, that is support group meetings can be scheduled during regular work days with the help of substitutes and creative use of staff development days.
  • Providing time for support group activities
    Support group activities happen more effectively, when time for meetings is provided during regular working hours or participating teachers are paid for attendance.
  • Support teacher educators/group leaders
    Teacher educators or veteran teachers can function as mentors and support group leaders. If veteran teachers are involved as group leaders it is important that the group meetings do not interfere with their regular teaching time.
  • Selecting & training effective group leaders
    Teacher educators or group leaders need to be recruited and trained. Basic training at a minimum should include supervision skills, cooperative learning and group facilitation strategies as well as guided journaling techniques. If veteran teachers run the support group they should be selected based on the success in their own classrooms and their ability to articulate their classroom management techniques and practice.
  • Identifying of teachers in need/group members
    Guided journaling support groups should be open to any teacher interested. School districts and principles should announce open enrollment.
  • Coordination & logistics
    A person with administrative authority should lay the foundation and groundwork to schedule dates and facility. Avoid conflicts with other school or district activities.
  • Group structure
    Possible collaborative structures can be grade-level teams, study groups or open groups.
    Grade level teams might focus on topics specific for a certain grade level or school type such a elementary school, middle school etc..
    Study groups might emphasize specific topics such as improving language arts instruction etc..
    Open groups allow teachers with different levels of experience and expertise come together and explore various issues teachers encounter.
  • Ethical issues
    A journal collects data that are by nature, through the act of writing, on the record. By nature, these data usually contain private information, thoughts and reflections. In the case of a teacher’s journal, the journal contained information about students, the school administration, colleagues etc.. This entails that these data cannot be made public without the permission from the individuals concerned. In our teacher education classes and our teacher support program it is of utmost important to let the teachers know that all and any data we might publish or quote publicly will be cleared with them first.
  • Code of Conduct:
    The following is the code of conduct in regards to confidentiality we implemented in all our journaling programs:
  1. The public use of any data is only with permission from the concerned individual.
  2. The content in and information of all formal or informal meetings remain confidential to the participants in the meeting until various permission for a more general release.
  3. The information and identifying data of students, fellow teachers, school staff or the school administration will be removed or changed appropriately so that a person’s anonymity will be safeguarded at all times. Individual’s names, identity and circumstances mentioned in the journal will need to be changed so that they are unrecognizable by others.
  4. All information produced by teachers will be published with their permission under their names.
  5. All information relating to a school will only be made public with the agreement of the school administration.
  • Guiding Principles
    Our program adheres to the following guidelines: Teacher educators, teachers and all members of the support group adhere to the code of conduct, especially what concerns confidentiality:
  1. Teacher educators, teachers and all members of the group will encourage and help each other through collaboration, problem-solving, mutual support and sharing their expertise.
  2. The teacher support group provides true, valid and authentic information and assistance to deal with practical problems.
  3. Members of the teachers support group, including teacher educators, do not evaluate or judge each other.
  4. The purpose of the teachers support group is to solve problems and reduce stress.
  • Practicality
    To ensure high-quality journaling, we designed the Guided Journaling Program with the teachers’ time schedule in mind and without impeding on a teacher’s main responsibility of teaching.
  • Format
    Concerning the format of journaling, we decided on a combination of a time-based and event-based design to strengthen our study (see also Mohr et al. 2001; Stone et al. 1998). As such, participating teachers are required to provide reports of events that meet pre-established definitions, as well as write within a pre-defined time frame (see also Bolger, Davis and Rafaeli 2003 p.588-591). This procedure allows us to better analyze and compare the journal entries across time.

    Specifically, in our Guided Journaling Support Groups, we asked the participating teachers to write at least once a week for 10 months. We ask the teachers to document observations as well as reflections. Single words or sentences may be entered in the journal, as well as photos, illustrations, drawings or scribbles. Included in the journal should be “observations, feelings, reactions, interpretations, reflections, ideas and explanations” (Kemmis and Mc Taggart 1982, P. 40). 
  • Cited References

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