The district recently sent a team to the Teach to Lead Conference, held in January at the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts in Brookville The purpose of the conference was to provide the opportunity for teams of educators from various districts to create and implement a district initiative for the purpose of school improvement. Many high profile educators, including Regent Roger Tilles and New York State Commissioner of Education MaryEllen Elia, were in attendance to address the attendees and offer their support and expertise.
Islip’s team of Teacher Leaders consisted of four teachers and one administrator, each representing a different school in the district: Islip High School Principal Michael Mosca and teachers Jean Minicozzi from Islip Middle School, Ted Dieumegard from Commack Road Elementary School, Rich Velazquez from Maude S. Sherwood Elementary School and Laurie Wills from Wing Elementary School. They selected the districtwide implementation of instructional rounds as their initiative.
The purpose of IR is to promote the sharing of best practices between educators by allowing teachers to actually see instruction in other classrooms.
“Although we are often hesitant to leave our classes and our students, the benefits of seeing a variety of teaching styles, and more importantly, engage in quality educational conversations with an assortment of colleagues, is extremely valuable for our growth and development as educators,” said Mosca. “Additionally, we have the benefit of seeing some of our own students work in a different discipline. This can provide a teacher with a more in-depth perception of a student’s strengths and weaknesses. For example, a classroom teacher who may have a struggling student could observe that student in a special such as music, art, or physical education and see an entirely different child. That teacher can use that information as a hook to reach that student.”
The practice of instructional rounds is not a new educational idea or initiative, according to Mosca.
“There have been many studies and publications about its effectiveness,” he said. “The beauty of instructional rounds is that there is no one way to run them. The practice could and should be created to fit the needs of the school or district. I have been utilizing IR at Islip High School for the last three years, and prior to coming here, at my previous school, Comsewogue High School. It is something I am very passionate about and I am happy we have assembled a team of quality educators from each of our buildings to explore the possibility of expanding the practice here in Islip. We have received positive input on the model of IR we have implemented. Teachers generally report that they leave the experience with enthusiasm and positive feelings about the students, their colleagues and the building as a whole. It opens avenues for cross-disciplinary and cross-grade level dialogue between professionals. My faculty has expressed their desire to see how things are done in other grade levels and for other grade levels to see how things are done at the high school level. It is our hope that with the support of our friends at Teach to Lead, that we can use the practice of instructional rounds to increase collaboration and collegiality throughout the district so we can continue to provide the best possible education for the students within the district.”