Distributed leadership is critical to mobilize school improvement efforts. Grant Wood AEA, in partnership with the New Teacher Center (NTC), a national nonprofit organization, provides comprehensive professional development programs and supports for school leaders to build strong mentoring and induction systems and communities of practice among all teachers.
The NTC professional development opportunities focus on establishing a relationship of trust and inquiry between mentors or instructional coaches with the teachers they support to accelerate effectiveness and improve student learning. Mentors/coaches learn how to use tools, data and evidence tied to the Iowa Teaching Standards to reflect on professional practice, examine students’ response to instruction, and differentiate instruction to improve achievement outcomes for all learners. An instructional coach in the program states,
“I’m learning how to engage in conversations with teachers that move their practice forward.” In addition, participants who have attended the professional development sessions have reported the learning has impacted their own classroom practice as well as the teachers they support.
Grant Wood AEA’s Mentoring and Induction Program provides ongoing mentor professional development, communities of practice for mentors and instructional coaches, principal capacity building to support beginning teachers, program leadership and induction system development and program evaluation to accelerate new teacher effectiveness, improve teacher retention, strengthen teacher leadership and improve student learning.
Teachers supporting one another in collaboration focused on improving teaching and learning is foundational in effective school improvement efforts. Districts in the Grant Wood AEA service area have also found the focus on collaboration, use of data to improve instructional planning and the coaching skills to be of value to meeting their school improvement initiatives within their districts. One of the district leaders working closely with Grant Wood AEA states, “The programs from the NTC do a fabulous job of integrating and matching with our PLC initiative by providing a common language and supportive structures so teachers feel like they are a community of educators looking at student learning and how we can enhance that learning.”