Maine Township High School District 207 has launched somewhat of a business venture that administrators hope will put the district at the forefront of instructional coaching.
The newly formed Chicago Coaching Center, a partnership with Elk Grove Township Elementary School District 59, is doing a job traditionally found in the private sector. It offers workshops, develops curriculum and even provides certifications in the field of instructional coaching for teachers across the suburbs.
What's an instructional coach? Basically, a teacher's teacher.
Over the past four years, District 207 has implemented a system of placing five coaches in each of the district's three high schools. The coaches teach half the time and coach other teachers the other half. District 59 also has coaches. The coaches and teachers develop coaching plans to improve instruction.
Superintendent Ken Wallace compares it to professional athletes.
"If I'm a professional golfer, baseball player or basketball player, I probably have multiple coaches," Wallace said. "It's sort of ubiquitous in a lot of different fields. Teaching is more complex than any one of those things."
Wallace said every metric of education performance has improved since the district began using coaches.
While some districts hire consultants or buy coaching curriculum from private companies, this week more than 120 teachers from districts in Naperville, Wheaton, Waukegan, Des Plaines and McHenry attended a two-day workshop at Maine East High School in Park Ridge.
Wallace considered the workshop a "soft launch." He has bigger plans for the organization, including growing into a destination for teachers across the country to learn coaching.
Jill Geocaris, the district's innovative adult learning coordinator, has been involved in creating the organization from the beginning. She said the district is in a unique position to start the organization because few, if any, other districts have current instructional coaches leading workshops.
"We have an army of instructional coaches and most districts don't have that many," she said.
At this point, the districts aren't looking to make a profit from providing coaching instruction, District 207 spokesman David Beery said. He estimated the districts are breaking even.
"It's more about establishing District 207's identity as innovative in the field of instructional coaching," Beery said.