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Estacada school district creates instructional coach positions

The Estacada School District is focusing on strategies from within that will improve student outcomes.

Through a two-year partnership with the Oregon Department of Education in which the district received approximately $450,000, superintendent Marla Stephenson is creating several new leadership positions for current district teachers.

“We have to improve ourselves from the ground up,” said Stephenson. “We’ve created a really robust program that requires teachers to be a part of really beginning to work at making changes from within throughout our system.”

The program creates several new leadership positions, including an instructional coach in each school. The positions will be filled by David Schaenman, Lindsey Fullenwider, Teresa Lewis and Elizabeth Warren, current teachers who will be on a one-year release from their regular classroom duties.

Currently, the positions will only be in place for the 2016-17 school year, but district leaders are interested in a potential expansion based on how they work during the first year.

The instructional coaches will assist teachers with lesson plan development and analyzing teaching practices.

Ryan Carpenter, principal at Estacada High School, believes the opportunity for reflection will be valuable.

“Teachers will be able to take a look, and really analyze data from their lessons,” he said. “They can change lessons based on that data and identify intervention strategies for students who are struggling in the classroom. There’s really a huge potential for what we could cultivate in every single classroom.”

Carpenter also believes the positions will be valuable because they will not be associated with any evaluation.

“Especially in a small school, it’s difficult when an administrator has to come in the classroom for both evaluating and coaching,” Carpenter said. “It will be valuable to have a peer work with other teachers on cultivating their craft and developing their skills.”

Schaenman, who will fill the instructional coach role at the high school, is excited to guide his fellow teachers through reflections after teaching.

“We can sit down and talk about how a lesson went, and if you were to do it again – what would you keep? What would you change?” he said.

Carpenter believes the program will benefit both teachers and students.

“We have a lot of strong teachers, and we’re only hoping to take them to the next level,” Carpenter said.

Next year will also see additional leadership positions such as positive intervention and support coordinator, a professional learning community coordinator and an intervention team leader.

Stephenson said all of these positions will support increased student achievement and outcomes.

“We are not satisfied with the pockets of excellence we see through our classrooms,” she said. “We are looking uniformly for excellence throughout our system.”

Stephenson emphasized the value of making changes from within.

“We could bring in outside consultants, but they would be temporary,” she said. “If we can train as many teachers as possible, when the money goes away, the teachers remain. That means the foundations of excellence remain.”

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