Building Teacher Efficacy

Shaping My Role as Instructional Specialist

By Pearl Dean Garden, Dallas ISD

I am a K-2 Instructional Specialist in Dallas ISD. In this role I work with educators of students in grades kinder through second grade. I am responsible for coaching, mentoring, providing and sharing resources, training and help with planning of lessons along with other instructional support. I am considered “central staff” which means that instead of being campus-based, I am centrally-based to support more than one campus and several teachers. I take the title of “Instructional Specialist” very seriously and understand the potential effect that I can have on student academic success. I am also an adjunct professor at Paul Quinn College where I teach teacher education students reading courses. I am fortunate to be able to shape the lives of educators and future educators.

Because I am an instructional specialist, I continuously study my craft to know what research says is a best practice in the field. I do this by being a learner, — I am working on my doctorate in curriculum and instruction — a leader (sharing information and other new learning with other specialist, teachers, and future teachers), and a lover of knowledge important in the field of education. I believe that as a specialist and educator it is important to know the latest research in the field of education. I read some of the academic journals to see what experts in the field of education are saying. I find the latest books by those authors and decide which ones are most pertinent to my work and share that knew knowledge with colleagues and co-workers. I attend conferences and view webinars to see those trends in the research explained.

It’s important that I share all new knowledge with my fellow educators. I feel my role is a special one, I don’t take this opportunity to shape the minds of educators and future educators lightly. I feel I am charged with the task of building efficacy in the educators I work with each day. Efficacy is when a teacher believes in their ability to guide their students to success. I want the teachers I work with every day to leave me with the belief that what they do matters in the lives of the children they touch and I want them equip with the tools necessary for students success which is the ultimate goal for an educator.

Pearl Dean Garden is a K-2 Instructional Specialist in Dallas, Texas. She has been in education at the elementary level for 20 years. She is currently also a third-year doctoral student at Texas A&M- Commerce, and an Adjunct Profession of Teacher Education at Paul Quinn College.