Coaching and Specialist Just-in-Time Support
As a result of our last PD review, we have embraced and expanded opportunities for teachers to participate in the best practices of job-embedded and ongoing professional development. We began in 2005 with the creation of Instructional Coaches who primarily supported new teachers, but also supported all teachers in the areas of curriculum implementation, instruction and assessment. There was
an emphasis on considering all specialist roles to include an element of coaching, and several venues for coaching skills were made available to staff to which this applied.
With the transition of a reading specialist in each building being identified as a literacy coach, this further expanded the notion of embedded professional learning. These coaches work one-on-one with teachers to model, consult, co-teach and provide feedback about instruction and student progress, and push-in to classrooms to support individuals or small groups. “Coaching contributes to improved teaching and student learning. It is embedded in rigorous curriculum, regular formative assessment, school improvement planning and monitoring, and other forms of professional development.” (Killion, 2006) These literacy coaches in every building are available to support the work of all teachers, in all disciplines, in terms of helping their student access their curriculum through reading, writing and speaking. Coaching is very individualized for the teacher and her students and takes place in real time in classrooms.
Reallocated and additional staffing in the elementary (science specialists, math specialists, Instructional Coordinators) and middle school (writing and math specialists) allow teachers access to just-in-time content learning and consulting on strategies to use to help students access curriculum. The purpose of a content specialist is to help teachers deepen their content knowledge and understanding of the structure of the curriculum, as well as to assist teachers in modifying curriculum to support the needs of the various learners in their classrooms. Typically, this is very individualized support for the teacher based on his/her needs and the needs of his/her students. Specialists consult with teachers, push-into classrooms to support small groups, model strategies for teachers, or co-teach. Specialists in Clayton include those specializing in gifted, EL, special education, speech-language, reading, math, and science.
Structures for ongoing learning have also expanded. In all buildings, many staff meetings have been identified as opportunities for professional learning. With the development of the Lab Classroom Leadership Program, structures of observing practice have spread. From the Wydown Instructional Talk Through, to the Captain Collaborative Learning Lab, to the administrative Learning Walks, observing practice and providing feedback is becoming part of the way we teach in Clayton.
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