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March 1, 1993
Vol. 50
No. 6

The Teacher-in-Residence Program

“The Professional Teacher.” Why is that expression not considered redundant? Do we say “the professional doctor” or “the professional lawyer” and then ask how we can develop the qualities and special expertise of nonprofessional doctors or lawyers?
Just as students in our classrooms are sometimes trapped by the expectations and limitations that define them, so too are teachers. Many become frustrated and leave the profession. Others retreat into the safety of routine. Still others continue to light the fires of learning despite the lack of professional support and respect.
Fortunately, there are some encouraging examples of what can be achieved when teachers are indeed treated as the professionals they are. The Teacher in Residence (TIR) fellowship can be a powerful tool for developing the talents and professional expertise of a large pool of educators. The TIR fellowship shows what happens when teachers are asked, and allowed, to assume leadership roles in education outside of the classroom.
The South Carolina Center for Teacher Recruitment created the TIR fellowship in 1986, when a classroom teacher and counselor became the Center's first representative to the South Carolina Teacher Cadet Program. This innovative effort targets bright high school students who might not otherwise consider careers in education. With salary and fringe benefits covered by the Center, this first Teacher in Residence helped to plan curriculum training for new Teacher Cadet teachers and traveled around the state, providing support and information to each of the 27 Teacher Cadet high school sites. Eventually, the TIR position evolved into a two-year residency, with one new and one experienced delegate on board each year. Its mission has evolved as follows: ... to identify outstanding teachers and provide them with a fellowship to work on teacher recruitment for the Center, to develop teacher leadership, and to provide support for recruitment programs. By 1992, 12 classroom teachers had served as full-time TIRs, including the last three South Carolina Teachers of the Year.
Empowerment is a heady experience quickly tempered by the reality of responsibility. Until classroom teachers are encouraged to use all of their talents, the statistics that indicate we are not reaching all of our students will continue to be grim. These figures are a constant reminder that, in the final analysis, we need everybody's input and all of the expertise we can muster to educate our students. When classroom teachers are asked to give all of themselves as professionals, everybody wins. The Teacher-in-Residence experience is one way to help make this happen.

Janice H. Poda has been a contributor to Educational Leadership.

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