MUSCATINE — Thirty instructional coaches were chosen to provide professional development for teachers across the district.
The Muscatine School Board announced instructional coaches for schools. This year, Becky Wichers, director of learning and teaching for the district, explained that the district began the program 4 years ago when the district landed a Teacher Leadership Compensation (TLC) Grant from the state.
“The money is for teachers in classroom to take on leadership role,” Wichers said. “The whole idea was to focus on teacher development. We are working with teachers to increase their skill base with strategies and data. It was really centered on teachers first. The end result was impacting student achievement.”
According to Wichers, the instructional coaches’ responsibilities break into three categories: data gathering, coaching cycles and professional development.
“Basically their role is to collect data and track data to help make instruction decisions,” Wichers said. “Part of their portion of their position is data driven.”
They work across classrooms in their building, figuring out and collecting measures that locally can be used to assess performance.
“An actual coach works with a teacher by providing that data to the classroom,” Wichers said. “The teacher has what might be an academic goal or it could be classroom management.”
The instructional coach will spend around six weeks with the teacher trying to implement methods that are coherent both with the districts goals and the teacher’s individual problems.
“The two of them work together but the instructional coach is coaching them on better ways to meet the end goal that they set,” Wichers said.
They also provide professional development, working with the building leadership team to assess where they are struggling. Wichers was a principal at Grant Elementary. She said that the TLC program changed the game in terms of the support for professional development in the school.
“It used to be that the principal was pretty solely responsible for professional development at the school,” Wichers said. “Now the amount of support they can access is huge.”
In addition, this year instructional coaches will have a part teaching responsibility. Wichers said that the district doesn’t want the instructional coaches sucked out of the classroom becoming isolated from teaching. Now these coaches will also have model classrooms where other teachers can come watch and learn.
“We had 42 teachers apply this year,” Wichers said. “We’ve never had this many apply. We feel that this current TLC group set the bar really high. They’ve done a wonderful job really making the position valued.”