Ongoing Instructional Coach support from Northwest AEA

Northwest AEA has promoted the Instructional Coach model for the past five years. There are many different models to consider, but we have been enamored with Jim Knight’s model reigning from the University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning. This spring and summer, we have two opportunities for teachers and principals to learn more about Instructional Coaching.

Level I Instructional Coach Institute, a Partnership Approach to Improving Instruction, will be offered:  April 9, 10, 11 at Northwest AEA in Sioux City and July 28, 29 and 30 in Sioux City at the Hilton Garden Inn. Registration for the April training can be done here:

The Teacher Leadership & Compensation (TLC) reform efforts by the Governor and the Department of Education fit perfectly with Jim Knight’s model. In speaking with Jim Knight lately, he shared that he has a new book coming out called, Focus on Teaching: Using Video for High Impact Instruction. To be successful in implementing an instructional coach model program, he highlights that this model includes five different components:

  1. Deeply understand teaching practices. This could include understanding Marzano strategies, Madeline Hunter, and in Northwest AEA, the APL strategies. The idea is to identify high impact strategies and use them in the classroom.
  2. Set up a process to set goals or measurable student outcomes.
  3. Work with adults in partnerships. Our Authentic Intellectual Work (AIW) framework promotes teacher collaboration and adults working together. A reminder here is that this should not be connected to teacher evaluation.
  4. Teacher skill development and communication are needed. A powerful tool for teachers is to see themselves teaching by using videos.
  5. Leadership skills are developed so that teachers are responsive and assertive without being pushy.

At the state level, there have been some major categories identified for teacher leadership teams to be successful. The successful teams will need to incorporate the following focus areas:

  • adult learning;
  • collaborative culture;
  • communication;
  • content/pedagogy/assessment;
  • systems thinking; and
  • use of data to inform decision making.

At Northwest AEA, our support in the areas of Instructional Coaching, the Iowa Core Deeper Investigations, the AIW support for teachers, the MTSS, FAST and IGDI Universal Screeners, and mentor training, all provide a system of supports for teachers in Northwest AEA.

For all of these reasons, the role of our Instructional Coaches has changed over the last five years. Each year, the role evolves because of state initiatives and the lack of funding that we receive. This upcoming year, our Instructional Coaches will be focused on “coaching the coaches” in individual school districts. We will support the aforementioned programs and strategies but will not have enough capacity to serve individual teachers in individual classrooms. Our focus will be on supporting the leadership teams with the teacher leaders and principals of each building.

PLCs at Northwest AEA
On another note, I would like to thank all of the employees at Northwest AEA who share their knowledge through their own Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). This month, we explore "Therapeutic & Clinical Book Study of Pediatric Neurology as it Pertains to PT & OT Diagnosis" by Amber Coburn, Sheila Jacobson, Jennifer Kaskey, Kathy McCarthy and Penny Webb.

To learn more, see the Northwest AEA PLC work here:

We work to supplement our service delivery with informational blogs that we hope will inform, inspire and guide your daily work. Please check them out here:

For a complete listing of all blogs, please go to the Northwest AEA website. You can also sign up for an RSS feed to automatically receive blog updates (instructions provided on the Northwest AEA website).

Educationally yours,

Dr. Tim Grieves
Chief Administrator