Knight, J. Learning consulting: Translating research into practice.  Stratenotes. 1998. 7(1) 1-3.

When we started studying onsite professional development, we used the term Learning Consultant.  The first research was funded by the Office of Special Education, STRATEGIC ADVANTAGE: A model for preparing adolescents with mild disabilities to succeed in future educations and careers (1996-1999).  Principalinvestigators on the study were Donald D Deshler and Jean B. Schumaker, and my research partner was Dr. Irma Brasseur-Hock.

This paper, published in our University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning publication Stratenotes, offers some very preliminary thoughts about the instructional coach as a translator of research. It explores the questions: What is a translator?  And, if “learning consultants” translate research into practice, what does that mean for what they do? This is the first document I published, my early notes on what coaching is and what coaches could do.

Key Points in the Article

  • A translator identifies the essence of a work created in one culture or worldview and then reconstructs the work so that it can be appreciated by people living in another culture or worldview
  • Staff developers understood as translators are people who need to know a great deal
  • They must understand the essence of the content they want to make available to teacher.
  • They must understand the culture and worldview of the teacherswith whom they are working.
  • They must be able to transform the content they are making available so that it can be understood within a particular teacher’s world view
  • Learning consultants are staff developers who focus their efforts on reframing research so teachers can see how it is relevant to their most immediate concerns
  • A learning consultant is part coach and part anthropologist
  • Although each learning consultant approaches the work uniquely, he or she follows a generic model involving eight components
  • Meeting one to one with department teams to explain what they do
  • Meeting one-to-one with interested teachers
  • Immediately working on real content
  • Establishing a partnership
  • Paying for teachers’ time
  • Making it as easy as possible for teachers to implement new practices
  • Providing support