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Mark Stock, University of Wyoming Department of Educational Leadership assistant professor, is the sixth recipient of the Mary Ellbogen Garland Early Career Fellowship.
The fellowship, established by the late philanthropist and education advocate John P. "Jack" Ellbogen, supports promising junior faculty members in the UW College of Education.
Stock says he intends to use the Garland Fellowship to study the relationship that is developing between building principals and Wyoming's instructional facilitators.
Specific focus of that research will be, "the way in which those relationships impact the success of implementation of the things they are working on in the district," he says.
"I want to see if there are certain patterns of behavior or common practices between the principals and their instructional facilitators and if so, whether or not they are related to the perceptions of success within the school," Stock adds.
Instructional facilitators are school district employees who act as peer helpers and coaches. They assist teachers with implementing new practices and applying what they learn in professional development settings.
The addition of teacher professionals to fill this instructional role represents a departure from the typical hierarchical school structure, where the building principal is the ultimate authority, Stock says.
"They are new for education," he says of the arrangement. "Usually it has been the principal and then everyone else. These teachers (the instructional facilitators) are assuming real leadership roles, yet in most schools, are doing so without line and staff authority," Stock says. "I want to see how principals are handling that and to see what the results are."
Stock's research plan starts with a survey of the state's instructional facilitators and their building principals. Responses will be matched into pairs to allow comparisons and identification of any patterns that emerge.
"As one might expect, research on a relatively new educational phenomenon is minimal at best," he says. "Very little national research exists on how these instructional coaching positions are being used and how effectively."
Findings from Stock's research work will be of use to educators and policymakers in Wyoming. Because this is largely uncharted territory, it also has the potential to advance the national discussion about the role of instructional facilitators and to offer starting points for other research agendas, Stock says.
For more information, contact Stock at (307) 766-3187 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.