A newsletter from the ICCSD Teacher Leadership Program.

We Seek To

  • Partner with teachers, administrators and district teams to transform teaching and learning through reflective practices in order to create the best possible student experience for all children.
  • Embody the belief that all teachers and students can become the best version of themselves.

In This Edition: A Focus On Instructional Coaching

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IDS Andrew Fenstermaker listens as 1st Grade Teacher Jenny Lorch describes the experience she wants for her students.

20 Minutes to Change a Career, a Classroom, and the Future for Students

How much difference can one conversation make?

One of the most exciting parts of my job is being invited to join a Teacher Leader's conversation with another teacher. There is always a robust give and take afterwards about what worked, questions for the future, and how we can all grow our practice. I learn a lot about our program and my own work from these visits.

But by far the best thing is witnessing teacher growth happen before my eyes and considering the impact this growth will have on students. I want to share two 20 minute conversations I've seen in the past two weeks. They served as powerful reminders of what is possible from working with an IDS.

The first occurred in a secondary classroom as a teacher described the results of reading aloud an assessment to an ELL student during intervention time. The teacher was surprised to find the student understood all the material despite having failed previous assessments. After allowing the teacher to process this, the IDS dug deeply into the next unit: what were the learning targets? how would they be assessed? what activities would students be doing to allow them to meet this target? At the end, they asked "how do you think your ELL students will manage this?" At this point, the teacher froze, got up to grab a notebook, and then sat and wrote for about 2 minutes. They then outlined a number of ideas about how they could embed strategies from beginning to end that would allow ELL students to process the material and show their learning. When the IDS asked "how has this conversation framed your thinking?", the teacher exclaimed "I would have never thought about how my ELL students would do before, but now I feel like we have a great plan for them moving forward!"

"I would have never thought about how my ELL students would do before, but now I feel like we have a great plan for them moving forward!"

The second occurred in an elementary classroom. The teacher expressed frustration about not finding student note taking meaningful when teaching science. The IDS asked them what great note taking would allow them to see, what students would get from note taking, and what that would look like. As they explored this, the teacher recognized that they wanted notes to not just capture ideas but capture students' reflection on their learning. Her affect became excited; she imagined how she could transfer this idea into other aspects of the student day; by the end, rather than dreading science notes, she had uncovered her purpose and structure for note taking throughout her practice.

As I left both these meetings, I wondered what would have happened if these conversations had not happened. How long would the needs of ELL students have been an afterthought? What would note taking have accomplished with a group of students and a teacher who did not even understand why they were doing it? Instead, students in these classrooms are now engaged by a teacher who is excited, able, and inspired to make it work.

I left these meetings grateful for the dedication and skill of these IDS, proud to be on their team, and wanting to tell these stories to the world.

So, here I am. If you want to share your story or experience with me, I am always happy to listen; or, in my favorite scenario, join you.

What a Relationship Can Do

Pre-K Teacher Megan Forbes talks to IDS Sharon Helt about how her teaching practice and classroom have changed as a result of their work together.

How Coaching Can Change A District

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When writing the End-of-Year report last year, we looked at multiple sources of data to gauge program impact. One very illuminating source was the Clarity survey which has looked at technology usage by students and teachers in our district for the past 5 years. Because we have IDS-Innovation working intensely in some buildings but not others, we were able to look at like buildings side by side to see if there were any differences in the consistent adoption of practices based on working with an IDS-Innovation. It turns out there were.

The graphs above show six elementary building and the teacher use of technology with students to help them create products over a three-year period. In the three buildings that did not work with an IDS-Innovation, there was little change. Numbers in each category remained largely static, and no teachers adopted this use of technology as a regular part of their practice.

However, in buildings that worked with an IDS-Innovation, there was great movement, especially in the decline in the number of teachers who never used technology in this way and the increase in the number of teachers who adopted it as a regular part of practice.

To share your inspirational story, please contact me at