Finding a Starting Point
As the Dofasco program began to grow, it started to experience subtle changes in a number of different areas that can be seen as growing pains, common for any instructional program moving from a small to a mid-sized initiative. Some of the changes included a slight increase in class sizes and a higher turnover in staff and students. As a result, it became more complicated to schedule classes and match individual students to the appropriate level of instruction. With more classes offered it was necessary to bring in more teachers, and this introduced a variety of new personalities into the informal setting created by the program team.
As a result, information gaps began to appear between instructors, team members, the brokering organization and the community service providers. Expectations were not clearly defined and the instructors were left to their own devices to develop and implement curriculum in isolation. The impact of this scenario was not immediately apparent. Over the span of the next two class sessions, however, it became evident that the success or failure of a given class was more dependent on the personality of the instructor than on the strength or delivery of the curriculum materials. There were a number of instructors delivering similar courses at similar levels of difficulty to different participants using completely different methods. This resulted in course materials, delivery methods, literacy outcomes, and evaluative strategies all being prepared independently by each instructor.
By the end of the first session, participants were already having difficulty moving from a completed course to the subsequent course at the next level. The difficulty caused participants to drop out of the program and instructors started to feel as if they were competing for students. With the increased stress of performing as well as providing quality instruction, the turnover amongst instructors started to rise, once again introducing new instructors, with varying personalities and experience, and the information gap continued to grow.
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