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Staff Coaching Initiative Relies on Professional Teamwork to Buoy Students

Staff Coaching

Denise Galatsianos (left), Literacy Coach, and Stacey Weber (right), Behavior Coach

As part of the District 67 2020-2025 Strategic Plan, educators are creating a District-wide model for coaching aimed at providing collaborative, supportive professional learning partnerships for all staff members.

“The goal of coaching is to provide job-embedded professional learning that impacts teaching practices, which ultimately improves student outcomes,” said Director of Teaching and Learning Jeff McHugh and Executive Director of Student Services Kate Cavanaugh, who are partnering on the initiative.

Ways that coaches can support staff members as they work to improve students’ academic and social-emotional outcomes include:

  • Co-teaching a math lesson with a classroom teacher.
  • Modeling a teaching strategy for a specials teacher.
  • Collaborating with a grade-level team to plan lessons to improve specific student skills.
  • Looking at data with specialists in order to identify learning gaps.
  • Working with teaching assistants to solve behavior challenges.

In the past, District 67 had staff members who provided coaching support, but there was not a formal coaching framework, said Dr. McHugh and Mrs. Cavanaugh.

“We spent last year researching coaching, reviewing various coaching models, and developing a framework to fit the needs of District 67,” they said. “This year, we have a solid structure with clear examples of how coaches can partner with staff, and we have building coaches at Deer Path and four District coaches implementing the coaching framework.”

The four District coaches specialize in literacy, math, innovation, and behavior. These coaches, Dr. McHugh and Mrs. Cavanaugh said, support Early Childhood-Eighth Grade staff on topics related to their specialized areas. The two building coaches at DPM support middle school staff with general instructional practices, they added.

Amy Lamberti (left), Innovation Coach

“While support can occur before or after school, much of it happens during the school day, as coaches are frequently in classrooms supporting instruction,” they said, adding that several coaches from TrueNorth Educational Cooperative 804 are also in District schools each week as a resource for staff with students who have significant support needs.

Satff Coaching

Jill Bose-Deakins (left),TrueNorth Coach, and Annie Steinbach (right), District 67 Building Coach

“Research shows that when educators attend professional development, their knowledge and skill improves from 5 percent to 60 percent, yet transfer to practice only occurs 5 percent of the time,” said Dr. McHugh and Mrs. Cavanaugh, citing 2002 research from Bruce Joyce and Beverley Showers. “When educators receive ongoing coaching support and then they return to the classroom, their knowledge and skills improves to 95 percent, and their transfer to practice occurs 99 percent of the time.”

“We believe,” they added, “that coaching is the catalyst that will help us achieve all of the goals on the Strategic Plan.”