Have you ever been the first to try something new? If you are firstborn in your family, perhaps you’ve experienced this numerous times. During the 2015-16 school year, 29 staff members from the Nevada Community School District set out on a new adventure for the first time, allowed by a grant from the state of Iowa called Teacher Leadership Compensation. These leadership positions have allowed personal and professional growth to continue in defined ways.

What does this look like in our district? Coaches and instructional guides in each building plan and lead professional development around Authentic Intellectual Work (AIW), Competency Based Education (CBE), Standards Based Grading (SBG), Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI) and Capturing Kids’ Hearts (CKH). We support teachers in the building by modeling lessons, providing cover for teachers to watch each other’s instruction, finding resources, meeting individually with colleagues about their Individual Career Development Plan, videotaping teaching and supporting teachers in any way needed. Peer advisors provide support for new teachers to the district and instructional models open their classrooms for others to watch an area of expertise.

How has our first year gone so far? Beyond our expectations! As with anything new, risk-taking and failing forward have been continued mantras. Three of these positions, called instructional guides, include Debbie Haywood at Central Elementary, Sara Markley at Nevada Middle School and Meg Frideres at Nevada High School. We three have planned and carried out professional development on “TLC days,” where we help coaches and peer advisors navigate their new roles. Using the training all staff received in August 2015 from Capturing Kids’ Hearts, we have built our mornings around building relationships with colleagues, how to have a coaching conversation and learning coaching strategies from the Jim Knight book, “Instructional Coaching.

Although our titles are the same, a “typical” day may look slightly different due to the age level at which we teach. Debbie has been teaching small groups of fourth-grade students in math, including Cognitively Guided Instruction, covering classrooms to release teachers to watch other teachers or release them to watch Amanda Myers, the instructional model, teach literacy. She has gathered resources, helped create an area for guided reading and math resources, recorded instruction and helped organize an outside speaker for professional development around guided reading.

Sara has been teaching one class of eighth-grade health, covering classrooms to release teachers to watch Allison Ingham, the instructional model for self-paced math (a Competency Based Education initiative), met with individuals around their professional goal, planned and carried out professional learning around Authentic Intellectual Work, videotaped instruction and found resources for colleagues.

Meg has been teaching one class of world studies and AP United States government. She, too, has covered classrooms to release teachers to watch other teachers, or released them to watch the high school’s two instructional models, Ted Johnson using Edmodo and Mike Lawler using Flipped instruction in the classroom. Meg has met with individuals about their professional goal, provided and advised colleagues about Standards Based Grading and found useful resources for staff.

Has it been easy? No. Have we loved it so far? YES! It is an honor to be able to support amazing teachers in our school district as we strive to achieve our mission to “Prepare learners today for tomorrow.”

- Deb Haywood, School View article for Nevada Journal 3/16/16

Flowchart of TLC Positions: