Pretty Much Anyone? Part IV: Where the Rubber Meets the Road

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The million-dollar question is: can (as we’ve seen with MTP and ITP-P) pretty much anyone be trained, in a general way, in ITP-C?  I believe the answer is no.  ITP-C is where the rubber meets the road.  To put it bluntly this is where you’ve actually got to know what you’re talking about.  Given a particular grade, content area, and type of student, there is a non-general, non-universal, specific set of best practices, theories, techniques, tricks of the trade, common misconceptions, and potential trainwrecks that form the guts if ITP-C.

Which participant structures are most appropriate for a collaborative learning model in a 12th grade science classroom?  What’s the best way to build those structures into the classroom culture?  How do those structures change when there are a large number of English Learners in the classroom?

Is critical peer-editing of creative writing even possible in kindergarten?  What does it look like?  How do you teach kids to do it? How can you ensure that it is a constructive process for all students, even those whose emerging literacy development tends to the edges of the bell curve?

The above two paragraphs illustrate (hopefully) that you can’t just make this stuff up.  That is, there is a real, non-trivial, nuanced, unobvious set of knowledge and skills associated with a specific grade level, content area, and type of student.  My own teaching experience in early elementary grades has prepared me to engage confidently with the questions in the second paragraph.  But if I’m being honest, I wouldn’t touch the first paragraph with a ten foot pole.  I mean, sure, I could make up some nice-sounding sentence about “the importance of establishing classroom norms” or “conscientious decisions about grouping strategies,” but I would never foist all that generic stuff on a struggling, first-year high school biology teacher.  What such a teacher needs, in order to improve her practice, are detailed and precise techniques, strategies, and insights that speak to the specifics of her teaching situation.  That is, she needs ITP-C from someone who knows what they’re talking about.

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