2. Regional Coordinator/Consultant
From 2005-2007, Jackie Hobal served the ERLC region as 0.5 FTE Social Studies Coordinator/Consultant. From 2007-2010 Harry Wagner has served as 0.5 FTE Coordinator/Consultant for the social studies project. During the 2010-2011 year that time allotted to a coordinator was reduced to 0.1 FTE. This position was also enhanced and expanded through the creation of a social studies regional team.
Key roles included:
- Act as key contact for the social studies project within the region.
- Liaise with the Alberta Education social studies team.
- Consult with the advisory committees, school jurisdictions, schools and teachers in implementing the comprehensive plan.
- Work closely with the ERLC Executive Director.
- Collaborate with social studies coordinators in the other six regional professional development consortia.
- Liaise with the ERLC regional team made up of social studies consultants from Edmonton Public Schools, Edmonton Catholic Schools and St. Albert Protestant Separate Schools.
- Coordinate professional development offerings for ERLC at the regional level, including summer learning opportunities.
- Coordinate the development of professional development and sustainability resources.
- Assist districts with suggestions of possible professional development topics, presenters and regional facilitators.
- Monitor budgeted expenditures related to the project in accordance with established budget.
- Collaborate with organizations such as AAC (Alberta Assessment Consortium), ECEC (Early Childhood Education Council), North Central Teachers Convention Association (NCTCA) and the Social Studies Specialist Council of the ATA to provide speakers for conferences, gather advice and feedback, and provide information about ERLC activities supporting implementation.
- Carry out project management, leadership, planning, implementation of the regional plan, district consultations, and management design and compilation of project evaluation and report.
In addition to a coordinator, the ERLC region was supported in Social Studies implementation by a regional team of consultants. The ERLC Regional Team provided approximately 2.6 FTE consulting/coordination to the region on an annual basis. The team was made up of a 0.5 FTE consultant/coordinator as well as consultants from Edmonton Public Schools, Edmonton Catholic Schools and St. Albert Protestant Schools. Each district in the region had access to 3 to 3.5 days of consulting time from the regional team and if districts collaborated, the days were combined; i.e. if two districts worked together they had access to 7 days from the regional team. The regional team modeled diversity, respect, cooperation and sharing of expertise. The 2008-2009 ERLC regional social studies team is pictured below:
From left to right: Tim Petkau, Edmonton Public; Harry Wagner, ERLC coordinator; Heidi Dempsey, Edmonton Catholic; Marie Settle, Edmonton Catholic; Catherine Coyne, St. Albert Protestant; David Evans, Edmonton Public; Betty-Lou Ayers, Edmonton Public; and Joni Turville, St. Alberta Protestant. *Sherry Long and Colin Woelfle from Edmonton Public and Denis Potvin from Edmonton Catholic also contributed to the team during the initial years of the implementation period.
During the 2009-2010 year the amount of time available to the region from the team was reduced to 0.5 FTE coordinator and 0.7 FTE consultants from Edmonton Public Schools. Districts had access to the equivalent of 1 day of time per district. During the 2010-2011 year, coordinator/consultant time was reduced to 0.1 FTE.
During the 2007-2008 year, the ERLC Social Studies Team noted some of the benefits of this kind of collaboration for themselves, their districts and the region:
- Having a regional team allows other districts the ability to access expertise. This leads to a sharing of knowledge of curriculum and best practices across districts.
- As a regional team we learn a great deal by working with other districts. It broadens our perspectives and opens our eyes to new ways of doing things, which enriches our work.
- As a regional team we all benefit from working together. All of us bring strengths to the table and by working as a team and collaborating we have become a very strong group. In addition, by working as a team we have developed a common message about curriculum or curriculum implementation (what is working, what isn’t) and this helps to develop commonalities across the province (TEAM – Together Everyone Achieves More).
- As a regional team we are also infusing research based practices into our work like differentiated instruction and assessment for learning which leads to more high quality teaching and learning for our students.
- In all the collaborative nature of our team enriches us as individuals and our work which leads to more high quality PD that will benefit students across the province.
- Working as a collaborative team leads to creative ideas/solutions
- Flexibility allows for individualized support models of service.
- Connectedness. The ability to keep very large districts connected to all (even the very small ones). I think this has been a huge benefit and one that would not have been realized without a regional team. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have even met the EPSB or ECS consultants without it, never mind having the amazing experience of learning from them and with them.
- Diversity. It's one of the things we celebrate in social studies and one thing we've been able to model as a result of having a regional team. There are people with obviously strong backgrounds in social studies, but within that, they each bring passion for and expertise in different areas of curriculum, instruction and adult education.
- Flexibility. Because we have a relatively large team, we've been able to bring a wide variety of learning opportunities to people in the ERLC region. They range from "come to ERLC" sessions, to customized PD where we go to different districts. That's something I don't think we would have been able to accomplish without a regional team, and I think it's been a benefit, especially to the districts that are a little more isolated geographically.
- The social studies coordinator/consultant has worked closely with the Executive Director and the Advisory Committee in creating the regional implementation plan and in developing the various components of the regional program.
- The regional model appears to be generally accepted in our region.
- The core program of learning opportunities was in place at the beginning of the year so that teachers could plan their participation as effectively as possible in light of increasing difficulties in booking substitute teachers and sometimes competing demands of professional development with other initiatives such as AISI.
- On the advice and direction of the advisory committee, the social studies regional team worked together and with Brian Burley of the Social Studies Specialist Council, Cheryl Przybilla of Alberta Education, and other regional consortia to create sustainability resources such as a social studies poster and parent newsletters. In addition, the team created model lessons and webinars on key topics related to the social studies curriculum.
- A successful innovation in meeting local needs has been the ERLC’s “District Days”. This has continued to be a way of providing service that is responsive to district needs, and delivered in districts. Districts were able to request to have members of the Regional Team come to their districts for PD sessions “on demand”, based on jurisdiction needs. This enabled districts to be able to take advantage of existing structures so the need for substitute teachers was reduced and their local contexts were able to be addressed. Districts were also encouraged to collaborate with other districts to share access to the regional team and therefore maximize the days they were allocated, which many were able to do.
- The identification of a coordinator/consultant in each region was an important component of implementation. Having such a person ensures that someone has the responsibility and will champion the “cause” of implementation.
The creation of a regional team in social studies was so successful that districts requested that such a team also be created to support mathematics implementation in the region. Having access to time from a regional team allows districts to customize support for the unique needs of the district.