District 95 coaches of teachers report on their first year
5 who help teachers, not students, finish first year at Dist. 95
Coaches aren't just for students at Lake Zurich Unit District 95.
Five instructional coaches for District 95 elementary school teachers are wrapping up their first academic year. Connecting with teachers and getting more of them to see the value of the advice and education resources the coaches can provide was among the achievements noted in a school board presentation.
District 95 board President Doug Goldberg said he appreciates the new coaches becoming "evangelists" for the curriculum department.
"Obviously, the mission is to make sure we deliver education to the students, but we also have to deliver education to the educators, right?" Goldberg said.
District 95's assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, Jodi Wirt, said the five elementary coaches were hired as part of a belief that expertise is the journey of a career, not a destination. Two coaches specialize in mathematics and the other three in literacy.
Math coach Capri Paluch told the school board last week she and the others have kept on top of education research and led teacher workshops. She said instructors this year contacted the coaches for books, websites, lessons and other education resources and activities.
Jill Nagle, also a math coach, said it's been important for the new team to build relationships with teachers.
"We couldn't have a teacher invite us into their classroom if we didn't have that relationship," Nagle said. "And it takes us getting to know those teachers on a personal level and having some kind of a chitchat, almost, to start off. And once we can get that door open for us, we then can move in and have some discussions."
Nagle said some teachers have resisted the coaches, which was expected. Some teachers also started seeking the coaches as the year progressed.
"And that's always a celebration for us, when we get a teacher who has maybe been a little reluctant to even make eye contact with us in the hallway but now they're seeking us out, they're asking questions," Nagle said. "And that can only move forward for next year."
Although based at May Whitney Elementary School in Lake Zurich, the coaches visit teachers in all five buildings with District 95's younger students. They don't visit Middle School South in Lake Zurich or Middle School North in Hawthorn Woods, which serve grades six through eight, or Lake Zurich High School.
Wirt addressed how the coaches have tried to balance individual teaching styles while working toward consistency in instruction.
"I think that one of the things about the coaching cycle is you connect one-on-one and the instructional coaches have a clear vision of what impactful instruction looks like," Wirt said. "And so as they're planning with the teacher and maybe modeling lessons, they demonstrate the practices that are part of the research that shows that it improves student academic performance."