Role of the Rosa Parks/ Wilson Teacher

Each of the three daily activity sections has a space for you to describe how you would like the Rosa Parks or Wilson classroom teacher to be involved. The more clear you are in this description, the easier it will be for the teacher to play a collaborative and productive role in your day.

To determine how exactly you’d like the classroom teacher to be involved, envision the activity playing out:

        • Where might you or the students need extra support?
        • What do you anticipate students getting confused about, or being challenging for the students?
        • What are the key takeaways for the activity that you want to make sure students are getting?
        • Where might behavior be a challenge?
        • What connections might the classroom teacher be able to make for the students?
        • If the activity is in small groups, can the classroom teacher lead a group (with the help of a cheat sheet – see below)?

Classroom teachers can be especially helpful in the following ways:

Checking for understanding

As the students are participating in an activity, the classroom teacher can be circulating and checking to make sure that students:

· Understand the directions

· Understand why they’re what they’re doing – i.e. the connection to the objectives for the day/week

· Are learning the intended lesson from the activity

Pushing students’ thinking

As the students are participating in an activity, the classroom teacher can circulate and ask probing questions (e.g. “Why do you think this is?” “What do you think would happen if…?” “Do you think the same would be true for…?”), or giving students an additional challenge to help them extend their learning.

Identifying and supporting students who need extra attention

One of the great aspects of SITP is that there are always multiple adults in the room, allowing for students who need extra support to get one-on-one attention that they may not be able to get back at school.

If you are leading an activity that may be challenging for some (e.g. a reading- or writing-based activity), the classroom teacher can work one-on-one with a student, and can let other adults in the room know which other students could use extra support.

Making connections and setting expectations

When introducing a new concept to students, the classroom teacher can remind the students of something related that they’ve already learned, providing a foundation on which students can more easily build new learning.

Similarly, when giving instructions for an activity, the classroom teacher can remind students of practices and expectations followed back at school for similar assignments. For example, if the assignment is for students to write a personal letter, the classroom teacher can remind students that they need an opening, a certain number of paragraphs, and a closing, and that they need to read over their writing twice before showing it to an adult. Having the teachers jump in this way is beneficial because:

          • It allows teachers to reinforce things they’re working on back at school
          • It sets a performance standard that is appropriate for the students, which is difficult for museum educators to do not working with the students every day and knowing what they’re capable of/working toward.
          • It helps students take the assignment more seriously, and results in a higher quality product.

Being an extra set of eyes and keeping students on task

If students are working in small groups, whether in the classroom or in the gallery/exhibits/park, classroom teachers can help by circulating and making sure students are doing what they’re supposed to.

Having Rosa Parks/Wilson teachers (or SITP facilitators) lead small group activities: Cheat Sheets

Small-group activities are a great strategy for maximizing student engagement as well as maximizing efficiency, and having so many adults available makes it an easy strategy to utilize. SITP fully supports small-group activities, with the following caveats:

  • You must provide detailed “cheat sheets” for anyone other than you who will lead a small-group activity. This document gives the activity leader clear guidance on:


        • What the learning goal of the activity is
        • What the instructions are (for the leader and the students)
        • An answer key (or other key information that the students will be discovering during the activity, that the leader should be able to verify as correct/incorrect)
        • How long the activity should take
        • Where the activity should take place (if outside the classroom), with a map if necessary
        • What to do if students finish early
        • Anything else that will help the teacher lead the activity just as you would

There is a place at the end of the template to link any cheat sheets you’ll be using, but you should also have a printed copy that you hand to the classroom teacher first thing during your daily meeting that day (that is, not immediately before they’re supposed to start the activity – you want them to have time to look it over and ask any questions).

You can also consider putting your cell phone number on the cheat sheet, so that if the teacher gets lost or has a question, they can reach you.

  • If the students are broken up into groups multiple times during the week, make sure that each group gets the same amount of time with you (the museum educator – i.e. the expert!). That is to say, if you lead Table 1 on Monday, then lead Table 2 on Tuesday, Table 3 on Wednesday, etc. Don’t only lead Table 1 all week long.

What’s the best way to describe the role of the teacher in the template?

If you’re asking the teacher to check for understanding, consider being specific about what you’d like them to check for – for example, if you anticipate students being confused about a certain concept or instruction, call that out in the description. Or if you just want them to check for understanding about the main idea, call that out too.

For example:

  • Help make sure students understand the difference between shutter speed and ISO on their digital cameras.
  • Listen to students’ conversations to make sure they understand the idea that “demographics” are characteristics that a group of people share, like age, cultural background, or career.

If you’re asking the teacher to push students’ thinking, it’s helpful to give examples of things they can ask.

For example:

  • Push student thinking by asking them probing questions, such as, “If you dug to the same depth in San Diego and in Ecuador, do you think you’d find the same types of fossils? Why/why not?”
  • If students quickly succeed in building their popsicle stick bridge, ask them how they would design a bridge that would need to be twice as long and hold twice as much weight.

If you’d like the teacher to identify and/or support students who need extra attention, just be clear about which activity you’d like them to help with.

For example:

  • As the students are reading the article, assist a student who may have difficulty with the reading, and identify any others who may need support from other adults.

If you’d like the teacher to help make connections and/or set expectations, you can leave that open if you just want the teacher to jump in when they see fit, or be clear about when you want that input if it’s at a certain moment.

Similarly with being an extra set of eyes and keeping students on task, this could be a general ask, or tied to a specific activity. NOTE that if this is the only thing you are asking the classroom teacher to do, you are missing an opportunity to engage their expertise with their students and to help the students get more out of the activities you’ve planned for them!

If you’ll be asking the teacher to lead a small-group activity, you can just name the activity they’ll be leading, and either link to the cheat sheet or refer them to the “Additional Materials” section where the cheat sheets are linked.