ILASCD Winter 2022

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Impact • Service • Advocacy Quarterly Journal - January 2023 Coaching, Mentoring, Leading

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The word coach brings to mind a thought to each and every person. And, I am certain that most will agree that coaches can be the most influential, life-altering, and unforgettable role models in the lives of children, adolescents, and adults. Coaches come in all shapes and sizes, backgrounds, experiences, and philosophies.

What is it that makes a coach? There is no correct answer to this question, and there are more answers than imaginable.

Just a thought…Consider the 4C’s of 21st Century Learning: Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, and Creativity…I suspect the vast majority of us agree that these skills are of vital importance for our students as they navigate an increasingly ambiguous future.

What if we consider these same 4C’s for Instructional Coaching Success? What more important skills are there for coaches than communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity? In his book, The Definitive Guide to Instructional

A Letter from the President
6 Trending 11 Whole Child 30 Book Review: Instructional Coaching 36 Resource Corner 40 Lessons Learned in Leadership 45 Coaching Teachers in a Unified Front 49 Perceptions of Teacher Leadership 62 Personalized Learning 66 Coaching Hindsight 71 Leading Educational Equity 78 Leading in Dual Language 84 Leadership Coaching 90 Upcoming Events

ILASCD Leaders

Belinda Veillon, President

Akemi Sessler, Past President

Scott England, President-elect

Amy Warke, Treasurer

Debbie Poffinbarger, Media Director

Amy MacCrindle, Secretary

Ryan Nevius, Executive Director

Bill Dodds, Associate Director

Task Force Leaders:

Membership & Partnerships

Denise Makowski, Andrew Lobdell

Communications & Publications

Joe Mullikin, Jeff Prickett

Advocacy & Influence

Richard Lange, Brenda Mendoza Program Development

Bev Taylor, Terry Mootz, Sarah

Cacciatore, Dee Ann Schnautz, Doug Wood, Amie Corso Reed

Coaching, Jim Knight, elaborates the Seven Success Factors to assist in the creation of a powerful coaching program. But, I consider the 4C’s as “lower case”, not defining organizers to an effective instructional program, but as necessary dispositions for an effective instructional coach.

The 4C’s of Instructional Coaching are neither linear nor exclusive. In an effective coach teacher relationship, the infusion of the 4C’s is important on both sides of the conversation. And, I feel it is the role of a coach to model these skills as the teacher/ coach team navigates the relationship for learning for growth. There can emerge a reciprocal relationship that will be mutually beneficial.

I feel I should note the 4C skills are not an all inclusive list or a guarantee of success. There are also coach dispositions that are foundational for instructional coach success. Most importantly, in my opinion, these would include authenticity, mutual respect, and a passion for the success of others. There would never be enough space or time to elaborate on all of the skills and dispositions necessary for a successful coach…just more food for thought!

4 A Letter from the President (cont.)


Three Ways to Define the Role of an Instructional Coach

One of the most important things we can do to set coaches up for success is to clearly define their role. If we leave it up to teachers to make assumptions or lean on past experiences rather than on the current vision, coaching may be viewed as an evaluative process or seen as a tool for accountability. Shifting to a student-centered approach means that we have to debunk misconceptions and paint a clear picture of the purpose and process for coaching. While there are many ways to build a clear vision around the coaching role, here are a few steps that we recommend taking as a school or district.

#1: Define the Relationship Between the Principal and Coach Roles

Michael Fullan (2009) teaches us that whole system change requires a combination of pressure and support. Making the most out of a coaching effort means that the principal sets a clear vision and high expectations for teaching and learning (pressure), and the coach serves as a thinking partner who helps teachers meet those expectations and reach their goals for student learning (support).

It can be helpful to use a Venn diagram to get clear on what this might look like. As you review the example on the following page, you’ll notice the distinct

Diane Sweeney

responsibilities of the principal and coach. These include the principal taking on the role of evaluator so the coach can partner with teachers through coaching cycles and professional learning. The overlap is also interesting to note since these are the areas where a principal and coach partnership can be formed. These might include actions such as: working together to design and implement professional learning, analyzing student data, and planning how to best leverage coaching.

Respectful and open dialogue between

the principal and coach is essential if we hope to establish and maintain a well defined coaching role. Sometimes this brings up the question of confidentiality. Our belief is that when coaching is student-centered, confidentiality can become a barrier because it limits our ability to build collective efficacy and may give the impression that there’s something to hide or that the teacher needs to be fixed. Other coaching models that are teacher-centered (or are geared toward targeting struggling teachers), may assert that confidentiality

From Leading Student-Centered Coaching (Sweeney and Mausbach, 2018)

is important because teachers may be vulnerable and exposed when working with a coach. Discerning the differences between coaching models is an important step for understanding whether confidentiality is necessary (or helpful).

#2: Articulate What Coaching Is & Isn’t Previous experiences and beliefs about coaching can be hard to shed. Because of this, it’s important to consistently communicate what coaching is and isn’t throughout the school community. This

purpose and practices for coaching. Keep in mind that crafting a clear vision will require more than one conversation. Reflecting on what a school or system envisions coaching is and isn’t can be a touch point throughout the school year.

#3: Watch out for Walk Throughs Framing coaching as support, rather than pressure, means we must avoid putting coaches in the position of taking on the role of monitoring instructional practice through walk throughs. If coaches are

is especially critical when shifting from a teacher-centered coaching model to a student-centered approach. It can be helpful to use the following figure or video to build clarity around both the

asked to get into classrooms to assess how things are going, teachers will wonder if what they are seeing is being shared with the school leader. Nothing will erode trust faster than this practice.

From Leading Student-Centered Coaching (Sweeney and Mausbach, 2018)
Three Ways (cont.)

Rather than sending coaches on a scouting mission, we recommend collaboratively developing a set of instructional look fors that clearly describe the teaching practices that align

while supporting the broader vision around school improvement.

In Closing

with the school vision. Imagine a school that is focusing on teacher and student clarity within their school improvement processes. Developing look fors means that the principal, coach, and teachers would come together to define the practices that would be used across classrooms as evidence of the clarity work. Examples would be: 1) the use of student friendly learning intentions and success criteria, 2) students actively self assessing using the success criteria, 3) student discourse around how they are growing as learners, and 4) students engaging and open ended learning tasks. The look fors would then be used by the principal when spending time in classrooms and providing feedback to teachers. They would also be used by coaches to embed the practices into their day-to-day coaching conversations about student learning. This is the cornerstone of defining a coaching role because it allows the coach to stay in their lane

Getting the most out of a coaching effort means everyone in the school community understands both the purpose and practices for coaching. One of my favorite questions to ask school leaders is, “If we walked through your school and asked teachers how they would describe the role of the coach, what would they say?”

Would we hear:

• A coach is a partner

• A coach helps me reach my goals for student learning

• A coach supports me to develop as a practitioner

Or would we hear:

• I have no idea what a coach does

• A coach is there to tell me how to teach

• A coach comes into my class to see how I’m doing and then leaves

These responses remind us that it’s simply not enough to hire coaches and assume that everyone understands why they are there.

These responses remind us that it’s simply not enough to hire coaches and assume that everyone understands why they are there. Now is the time to assess how clear you have been when it comes to defining the role of the coach, and how to figure out how you can get even clearer.


Fullan, M. (2009). Motion Leadership: The skinny on becoming change savvy.

Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Sweeney, D. and Mausbach, A. (2018) Leading Student-Centered Coaching.

Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Diane Sweeney has been an author and educational consultant since 1999. The author of Moves for Launching a New Year of Student-Centered Coaching (Corwin, 2022), The Essential Guide for Student-Centered Coaching (Corwin, 2020), Leading Student-Centered Coaching (Corwin, 2018), StudentCentered Coaching: The Moves (Corwin, 2016), et al., Diane holds a longstanding interest in how adult learning translates to learning in the classroom. Diane holds a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Denver and a Master’s in Bilingual and Multicultural Education from the University of Colorado, Boulder. After teaching and coaching in the Denver Public Schools, Diane served as a program officer at the Public Education & Business Coalition (PEBC) in Denver. Since then she has become a respected voice in the field of coaching and professional development.

Three Ways (cont.)

Whole Child

Whole Teacher Mindset: Unlocking the Untapped Potential of Teachers

Continual professional development is an important aspect and requirement in most any profession. Likewise in the profession of education, teachers have been required to attend professional development that is intended to improve teaching and learning. Although well-intentioned, districts are clearly not providing the type of professional learning that is meaningful, sustainable, and interesting to teachers. Recently teachers have voiced their concern in national surveys over the lack of quality in professional development efforts that fall flat in meeting their needs. Emerging research from the business world regarding the success of executive coaching as professional development may present a promising alternative to learning that is jobembedded, individualized, differentiated, and improves both the individual and the organization. This article will examine the practice of coaching as it exists in the business world, and in schools, and highlight the lack of clarity in a working definition for coaching as it pertains to the school environment. Finally, the application of the research to a mindset that aligns with ASCDs Whole Child Approach will be discussed as a recommendation

Mary Zaharis

for a new way forward for professional learning that taps the full potential of teachers through a holistic approach to an understanding of the needs of the Whole Teacher.

Coaching in the Business World

Executive coaching has been a common practice in the development of leaders in the business world dating back to the 1950s. Executive coaching has exploded in the last 10 years, and it is estimated that coach practitioners have increased by 33% with the number of executives using coaches increasing by 46% (Waters & Riordan, 2023). Research in the business literature suggests that

in the business world (Arruda, 2022). According to Waters & Riordan (2023), effective coaching enhances personal performance, well-being, ability to cope with change, job satisfaction, and skill attainment, and builds resilience. Current research also dispels the myth that coaching is only for those who are struggling. Recent evidence suggests that coaching is a highly effective intervention for those who struggle as well as those who excel at their expertise (Eller & Eller, 2018).

Coaching in Schools

Although coaching is a relatively recent phenomenon in the world of education,

executive coaching is a viable lever in developing high potential, retaining top talent, preparing executives for more demanding roles, and building a leadership pipeline (Ennis et al., 2015). In addition, coaching has been shown to boost the individual, team, and organizational performance and has become a key to professional success

schools, too, have embraced the benefits of coaching as a powerful lever in the improvement of teaching that leads to greater student achievement. A growing body of research has become more available to educators. Thanks to researchers such as Jim Knight and his colleagues at the Instructional Coaching Institute, educators continue

Whole Child (cont.)
Research in the business literature suggests that executive coaching is a viable lever in developing high potential, retaining top talent, preparing executives for more demanding roles, and building a leadership pipeline (Ennis et al., 2015).

to learn about best practices that can bring about optimal results in teaching and learning. However, much more is yet to be learned about the impact that coaching has on teaching and learning and how it can be most effectively implemented as powerful professional development for teachers.

Definition of Coaching

Although the definition of coaching is as elusive as the complex definition of leadership, significant progress has been made by executive coaches, leadership development consultants, and human resource professionals to clarify definitions and create guidelines for coaching in the business world.

Jim Knight, a name synonymous with instructional coaching, describes coaching as a partnership in which the coach helps the teacher reach a goal they have chosen by building relationships, collegial dialogue, and trust (Knight, 2021). As we continue to seek clarity regarding a definition for how coaching applies to educators, it is suggested by the Professional Institute for Instructional Coaching (TPIIC, 2022), that coaching is a jobembedded professional and professional learning support system that provides differentiated support to teachers by providing regular and consistent sideby-side guidance to help strengthen

instructional practices and improve student engagement and learning.

All of us have experienced coaching in some form over our lifetime and at its best, effective coaching can be defined as a balance of science, art, and expert judgment that helps us discover how we can improve through reflection and selfawareness (Ennis et al., 2015). Whether it was through a high school football coach or the coach of the debate club, the most effective coaches we remember were most likely to be those who did not prescribe steps for how to improve but rather those who helped us to discover through dialogue and reflection where our current level of performance was and empowered us to envision how we might continually improve that performance.


Loehr & Schwartz (2001) examined the variables that contribute to the high performance of individuals who can flourish despite increasing pressure and rapid change. They cite that due to an over focus on cognitive skill development of the leader, leaders do not learn balance that allows for the creation of positive rituals that are needed to avoid burnout, breakdown, and ultimately lead to poor performance. In their research, they suggest an approach where coaches help leaders tap into positive energy at four levels, physical capacity, emotional


capacity, mental capacity, and spiritual capacity to create resilience and levels of high performance. In brief, physical capacity is the need to build endurance

studies regarding the effect of teacher coaching on instruction and achievement. In their findings they characterized the coaching process as one where

Barriers that prevented the implementation of coaches in schools as professional learning included cost, the narrow definition of coaching as a one-to-one activity, teacher buy-in, and the perception that coaching is a process to document shortcomings that could be punitive to the teacher.

through healthy routines and rituals for eating, sleeping, and exercising. Emotional capacity is needed to create an internal climate where positive emotions ignite energy that drives performance. Mental capacity focuses physical and emotional energy on the task at hand by providing appropriate space to think and reflect, thereby shifting brain activity from the left to the right hemisphere. Spiritual capacity provides a powerful source of motivation, determination, and sense of purpose. When all four of these capacities are tapped to their fullest potential, leaders are more able to sustain high performance during turbulent times.

Although there are fewer studies to cite the impact of coaching on teaching and learning, Kraft & Blazar (2018) conducted a meta-analysis of 60 causal

instructional experts work with teachers to discuss classroom practice in an (a) individualized; (b) intensive; (c) sustained; (d) context-specific; and (e) focused setting where coaches work with teachers to engage in deliberate practice of specific skills. Barriers that prevented the implementation of coaches in schools as professional learning included cost, the narrow definition of coaching as a one-to-one activity, teacher buy-in, and the perception that coaching is a process to document shortcomings that could be punitive to the teacher.

In another study, Patzer (2022) suggests that coaching, which is typically associated with novice teachers, is beneficial for both the veteran and novice teacher. Novice teachers were found to gain the confidence, skills, and self-awareness needed to build

Whole Child (cont.)

long, successful careers in education whereas veteran teachers were found to gain a greater understanding of the relevant theory that underscored the new strategies they learned. They were further able to gain validation for their efforts to learn new skills by demonstrating and practicing the mastery of the new skill with their coach, a trusted, non-threatening colleague.

Application of Research to Educational Practice

Benefits of coaching have been shown to increase the teacher practitioner’s ability to analyze their own lessons and reflect on how to improve their teaching through a better grasp of best practices, increased repertoire of instructional strategies, stronger professional relationship with colleagues, a deeper sense of efficacy, autonomy and a more cohesive school culture that includes a positive school climate (Patzer, 2022; Eller & Eller, 2018; Moody, 2019).

For maximum effectiveness, coaching should be differentiated and tailored to individual teachers’ needs in a tiered structure that provides various levels of support. Exemplary teachers can benefit from coaching that leads to the refinement of practice and extension and enrichment of useful strategies. Proficient teachers who have mastered basic skills can benefit from coaching

that provides the opportunity for them to reflect on their practice. Marginal teachers who have concerns in a few areas can benefit from coaching whereby instructional strategies are broken down and plans to implement these strategies are co-created with the coach. Finally, deficient teachers who are candidates for improvement plans or contract termination are beyond the scope of differentiated coaching support (Moody, 2019).

Traditional Professional Development (PD) is a multi-billion-dollar industry that has little impact on improving the quality of teaching and learning (Will, 2019). Yet teachers are required to attend PD that is irrelevant to their improvement, does not create lasting change, and is not interesting to teachers (Will, 2022). Professional development that does not allow for teacher voice, and choice and is not tailored to the needs of the adult learner are relics of days gone by. Yet, in a recent survey conducted by the National Education Association (NEA) quality professional development is still out of reach for most teachers.

Survey data revealed that 20% of teachers have no input in their PD with 70% of their PD offerings determined by district leaders (Walker, 2017).

Professional development has not kept up with the needs teachers have for


support in today’s school climate. As a profession, we have developed blind spots by continuing to require traditional onesize fits all development that does not recognize teachers as adults who need to feel in control of their learning (Will, 2019; TNTP, 2015). Teachers want to focus on issues that concern them, and learn

to true professional learning that takes place in the world of the teacher and lives out the creation of goals that matter deeply to teachers who have chosen the goals themselves (Knight, 2021).

With teachers leaving the profession at alarming rates, and others never

experience, and is applicable to their immediate present (Bouchrika,

how to improve their performance in immediate, actionable learning that meets their needs. As adult learners, teachers gravitate toward learning that matters, builds on previous experience, and is applicable to their immediate present (Bouchrika, 2022; Knowles, 1980).

In the preface for his latest book, Jim Knight tells us that coaching is essential for the kind of growth we want to see in our schools (Knight, 2021). Traditional forms of PD, webinars, books, and workshops may provide extension and enrichment opportunities for teachers, but the real learning happens in real time. Coaching allows for the development of collegial relationships that puts teachers at the epicenter of their own learning. The reflections, voice, and collegial dialogue between coach and teacher lead

considering teaching as a career, schools need to attract and retain teachers who will stay the course and provide their best to the children in their care. As institutions of learning, the learning of all in the schoolhouse matters as does the elevating of our profession to the prominent place it should hold in our society (Walker, 2022; NEA, 2022). An emerging body of research suggests that coaching models of professional learning may provide the needed and promising alternatives organized around active learning, job-embedded practice, and sustained focus (Kraft & Blazar, 2018; Kraft & Blazar, 2017) Attracting teachers is an entirely different goal than retaining them. High-performing teachers need proper support and deserve our best.

As adult learners, teachers gravitate toward learning that matters, builds on previous
2022; Knowles, 1980).

Whole Child, Whole Teacher—A New Mindset to Support Teachers

Although COVID-19 and its aftermath may be the black swan for teachers leaving the profession at higher rates, we need to look within ourselves as educators and have deep, reflective courageous conversations that examine the truth behind teacher attrition and why the teaching profession has a 59% burnout rate as compared to a 44% burnout rate in other professions. Teacher shortages began well before the pandemic and it will require special efforts to recruit, hire and retain quality educators (NEA, 2022). We must also think about statistics that share that females and Hispanic/Latinx teachers experience higher burnout rates than their White colleagues (Morrison, 2022; Steiner et al., 2022).

The easy answer is that teaching has never been considered an easy calling to a profession. The longer answer is that teachers are leaving because of the added stress of social emotional/ mental health student issues, dealing with learning loss, and increased teacher and staff shortages. The general lack of teacher wellness is at the center of concern and requires different thinking at different times. What can we do to elevate our profession and take better care of our teachers? Could we consider a more holistic way of looking at teacher

development and support? Could we look more closely at ASCDs Whole Child Approach to Education and put the teacher at the center of each of these tenets in a model that demonstrates care and concern for each teacher. A model for this may look something like this:

Whole Teacher Tenet #1Healthy

Each teacher enters school healthy, learns about, and practices a healthy lifestyle

Whole Teacher Tenet #2Safe

Each teacher teaches in an environment that is physically and emotionally safe for all children and adults

Whole Teacher Tenet #3 –Engaged

Each teacher is actively engaged in learning and is connected to the school and broader community.

Whole Teacher Tenet #4 –Supported

Each teacher has access to personalized professional learning and is supported by qualified, caring leadership.

Whole Teacher Tenet #5Challenged

Each teacher is challenged academically and engaged and prepared for a successful career path.



In this manner, the systemic implementation of a Whole Teacher Mindset that includes the individualized support of coaching may help us redefine the success of each teacher that is not measured solely by academic achievement on test scores. Instead of providing more meaningless professional development for teachers, we must view each teacher holistically as individuals who have the physical capacity, emotional capacity, mental capacity, and spiritual capacity to teach and help all students learn. Education has fundamentally changed and the systems that surround it must also be restructured (NEA, 2022). Allocation of resources to support the retention, recruitment, and hiring of needed staff and teachers must take precedence as does resource expenditure dedicated to the professional development of teachers through more comprehensive approaches to learning such as coaching. In a study conducted by the National Teachers Project (TNTP), it is suggested that the way forward is not to continue the “mirage” that more money spent on more professional learning will result in teacher improvement. Trying to force a single remedy for some 3.5 million individualized challenges will never work (TNTP, 2015). It is time to create a mindset of caring for the Whole Teacher.


Arruda, W. (2022, January). Why 2022 is the year you should hire a coach. Retrieved December 31, 2022, from williamarruda/2022/01/11/ why2022-is-the-year-you-should-hire-acoach/?sh=744d8ac05b73

Bouchrika, I. (2022). The andragogy approach: Knowles’ adult learning theory principles., September 27. https://research. com/education/the-andragogyapproach

Elevating the education professions: Solving educator shortages by making public education an attractive and competitive career path. (2022, October). NEA. Retrieved December 1, 2022, from https://www.nea. org/sites/default/files/2022-09/ solving-educator-shortage-reportfinal-9-30-22.pdf

Eller, J., & Eller, S. (2018). Differentiated Instructional coaching. Principal, May/ June, 49-50. https://www.naesp. org/sites/default/files/Eller_MJ18. pdf

Ennis, S., Goodman, R., Hodgetts, W., Hunt, J., Mansfield, R., Otto, J., & Stern, L. (2015, October). The executive coaching handbook:

18 Whole Child (cont.)

Principles and guidelines for a successful coaching partnership. Executive Coaching Forum. Retrieved December 31, 2022, from https:// www.theexecutivecoachingforum. com/docs/default-documentlibrary/tecf-6th-ed.pdf

Knight, J. (2021). The definitive guide to instructional coaching: Seven factors for success. ASCD.

Knowles, M.(1980). The modern practice of adult education: From pedagogy to andragogy. Cambridge Adult Education.

Kraft, M.A. & Blazar, D. (2017). Individualized coaching to improve teacher practice across grades and subjects: New experimental evidence. Educational Policy, 31(7), 1033-1068

Kraft, M.A., Blazar, D., Hogan*, D. (2018). The effect of teaching coaching on instruction and achievement: A meta-analysis of the causal evidence. Review of Educational Research, 88(4), 547-588.

Moody, M. (2019, November 19). If instructional coaching really works, why isn’t it working? ASCD. Retrieved December 30, 2022, from https://

Morrison, N. (2022, June 22). Teachers twice as likely to be stressed as other occupations. Forbes. Retrieved December 30, 2022, from nickmorrison/2022/06/22/ teachers-twice-as-likelyto-be-stressed-as-otheroccupations/?sh=b26391a3d209

Patzer, R. (2022, November 14). Coaching for teachers: What school leaders need to consider. IRIS. Retrieved December 30, 2022, from https://blog.

Loehr, J., & Schwartz, T. (2001, January). The making of a corporate athlete. Harvard business review. Retrieved December 15, 2022, from https://

Steiner, E., Doan, S., Woo, A., Gittens, A., Lawrence, R. A., Berdie, L., Wolfe, R., Greer, L., & Schwartz, H. (2022, June). Restoring teacher and principal wellbeing is an essential step for rebuilding Schools Findings from the state of the American teacher and state of the American principal surveys. RAND Corporation. Retrieved December 30, 2022, from research_reports/RRA1108-4.html


Whole Child (cont.)

The mirage: Confronting the hard truth about our quest for teacher development. (2015, August 4). TNTP reimagine. Retrieved December 31, 2022, from documents/TNTP-Mirage_2015.pdf

The professional institute for instructional coaching. (2022, December 14). Retrieved December 30, 2022, from

The whole child approach to education. (n.d.). ASCD. Retrieved December 5, 2022, from whole-child

Walker, T. (2017, August 8). Survey: Quality professional development still out of reach for teachers. NEA News.

Walker, T. (2022, February 1). Survey: Alarming number of educators may soon leave the profession. NEANews. Retrieved December 1, 2022, from

Waters, S. D., & Riordan, B. G. (2023). The coaching shift. Taylor & Frances.

Will, M. (2019, May 14). What are the blind spots in teacher pd? Education Week. Retrieved December 30, 2022, from leadership/what-are-the-blindspots-in-teacher-pd/2019/05

Will, M. (2022, October). What works and what doesn’t in teacher pd? Education Week. Retrieved December 5, 2022, from leadership/what-works-and-whatdoesnt-in-teacher-pd/2022/10

Dr. Mary Zaharis is a faculty member in the Division of Educational Leadership at Concordia University Chicago where she is the Interim Assistant Dean in the College of Education. She teaches master’s and doctoral classes in the Principal Preparation and Superintendent licensure programs and has been a school principal/ superintendent in public and private school systems. Dr. Zaharis is committed to the preparation of aspiring leaders at the school and district levels.


Whole Child

A Whole-Educator Approach to Instructional Coaching

Nicole D. Ortegón

The academic and professional discourse on instructional coaching grows increasingly expansive. Instructional coaching, like education, is context-dependent. No one model (or combination of models) fits all. Variants include but are not limited to the following: facilitative, directive, dialogical, ontological, cognitive, content, leadership, differentiated, peer, and educator-centered (Aguilar, 2013; Akyıldız & Semerci, 2016; Eisenberg et al., 2017; Garet et al., 2016; Jewett & MacPhee, 2012; Instructional Coaching Group, 2018; Stover et al., 2011; Warren & Kelsen, 2013). While each model has “criterial attributes,” similarities exist across models (Chiarelott, 2006). Therefore, while a monolithic portrayal of instructional coaching would not lend justice to its multidimensionality, it is fair to discuss instructional coaching as a whole in terms of its common elements. Recent scholarship on instructional coaching advocates for a balanced approach in which, alongside knowledge of content and pedagogy, knowledge of self-care and educator wellness becomes common currency in the theory and practice of instructional coaching (Boogren, 2021a; Frazier, 2020; Pendleton-Hart & Nash, 2021).

In reflecting on her experiences as an instructional coach, Tina H. Boogren, author of Coaching for Educator


Wellness: A Guide to Supporting New

and Experienced Teachers, shares that her training had prepared her for “helping teachers transfer new strategies into their classrooms” through using common tools of instructional coaching such as “goal-setting, classroom observations, instructional rounds, and reflections”; what it had not prepared her for was “how to help support teachers’ wellness and address their stress and trauma” (Boogren, 2021b, para. 4). Boogren (2021b) recounts how her early coaching experiences, coupled with her increased knowledge of self-care and educator wellness, led her to an epiphany: “[W]e need to think about instructional coaching differently… coaching needs to be about the whole person, not simply a rigid focus on specific strategies, curriculum, or initiatives” (para. 5). In other words, instructional coaching necessitates a whole-educator approach, paralleling shifts in education to a whole-child approach (Boogren, 2021b).

Why Now?

While teachers’ health and well-being are unequivocally priorities in their own right, the idea that teachers’ health and well-being affect not only the health and well-being of their students but also their students’ academic achievement is not new (Ortegón, 2017). That being said, Boogren (2021a) argues that

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, more than ever, we began to understand the requirement for educators to take care of themselves first, so they can, in turn, take care of their students, both academically and social-emotionally” (Location 159). Yet, during the same time, teacher burnout and attrition have increased in intensity and pervasiveness (Rebora, 2022a; Rebora, 2022b). Therefore, we find ourselves in a situation in which many students have a pressing need for teachers to be their “best selves” at a time when many teachers are experiencing heightened levels of stress (Frazier, 2020); within this context, the need for a wholeeducator approach to instructional coaching becomes all the more critical for teachers and their students. Moreover, instructional coaches need to be their “best selves” not only for themselves but also for their coachees and, by extension, their coachees’ students (Aguilar, 2013; Boogren, 2021a; Frazier, 2020). Rebecca Frazier (2020), author of The Joy of Coaching: Characteristics of Effective Instructional Coaches, recollects that she “needed to work on being a better version of [herself] to become a more effective coach,” but while she “had been able to find information on processes, steps to take, and ways of increasing student learning… only a few pieces

Whole Child (cont.)

here and there… focused on coaches themselves” (p. 2). There is a need for more information on how coaches can utilize the power of self-actualization to increase their effectiveness in supporting teachers in their personal and professional growth and, by extension, students in their social-emotional and academic growth (Boogren, 2021a; Frazier, 2020).

Toward a Whole-Educator Approach

The ASCD whole-child approach “transitions from a focus on narrowly defined academic achievement to one that promotes the long-term development and success of all children” through ensuring students are healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged (ASCD, Whole-child). Boogren (2021a) intimates that to fully realize the vision of a whole-child approach, we need to ensure educators are likewise healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. In the paragraphs that follow, I reflect on how a whole-child approach can guide our vision and understanding of a whole-educator approach to instructional coaching and share my lingering questions about the implications of a whole-educator approach to instructional coaching. Lastly, in Figure 1, I include characteristics of whole-educator instructional coaches based on effective coaching practices, as discussed in the literature, and

my personal experiences working as an instructional coach and teaching instructional coaching.

Healthy and Safe

A whole-educator approach to instructional coaching understands coaches and teachers as whole persons; from Frazier’s (2020) perspective, the “joy of coaching” resides within this “intersection between authentic caring and competency—the merging of love and knowledge shared” (p. 2). Wholeeducator instructional coaches attend to their health and wellness needs and recognize that teachers need not only instructional but also social-emotional support (Boogren, 2021a; Frazier, 2020). Boogren (2021a) advocates for coaches to use a “lens of educator wellness and self-care” to support “the social-emotional learning needs of the adults in our schools and classrooms” (Location 1313).

Emotional intelligence begins with self-awareness and self-management and expands to social awareness and relationship management (Goleman, et al., 2002). Emotional contagion is a well-documented phenomenon (Fowler & Christakis, 2011; Goleman et al., 2002). Adults serve as role models of emotional regulation for students (and other adults), and dysregulated adults cannot “effectively intervene with a child” (Perry & Albon, 2019, p. 29;


Perry, 2020). In the logic of emotional intelligence, a whole-educator approach to instructional coaching supports the health and wellness of coaches, teachers, and students. Frazier (2020)

instruction (Eisenberg et al., 2017; Frazier, 2020). The art of conversation is critical to the relationship building that occurs between coaches and teachers (Cheliotes & Reilly, 2018; Knight, 2015;

and Boogren (2021a) provide practical recommendations for how coaches can demonstrate an ethic of care in thought and action. While not specific to instructional coaching, Tamera Musiowsky-Borneman and C. Y. Arnold’s (2021) book, The Minimalist Teacher, equips educators with tools to promote positive well-being, reduce stress, and discourage burnout.

Reflecting on the scholarly literature on instructional coaching, as well as my experiences working as an instructional coach and teaching instructional coaching at the doctoral level, I would characterize coaching as fundamentally relational (Robertson et al., 2020). Coaching that is relational, trust-based, non-evaluative, and confidential, creates a sense of safety, which is paramount to effective coaching (Eisenberg et al., 2017). In a safe and supportive environment, teachers are more likely to engage in healthy risk-taking in their

Tschannen-Moran & Tschannen-Moran, 2022). Jim Knight’s (2021) seven “Partnership Principles” (equality, choice, voice, reflection, dialogue, praxis, and reciprocity) lend useful insight into how to nurture “mutually humanizing learning conversations” between coaches and teachers (p. 6). Effective coaches demonstrate empathy and respect; they are active listeners who pose effective questions and facilitate metacognitive reflection (Boogren, 2021a; Eisenberg et al., 2017).

Engaged, Supported, and Challenged

Instructional coaches effectively engage teachers in learning by adopting the principles of andragogy (Aguilar, 2013; Eisenberg et al., 2017; Frazier, 2020; Tschannen-Moran & Tschannen-Moran, 2022). As Eisenberg et al. (2017) concisely articulate, “[I]nstructional coaching is about adults collaborating with adults. To be effective, coaches have to understand how adults learn”

Whole Child (cont.)
In a safe and supportive environment, teachers are more likely to engage in healthy risk-taking in their instruction (Eisenberg et al., 2017; Frazier, 2020).

(p. 5). Effective individual-level coaching sessions employ a multiphase cycle of planning, observing and modeling, and reflecting and debriefing (Eisenberg et al., 2017). They are process, goal, and solution-oriented, collaborative, non-evaluative, confidential, strengthbased, and capacity-building centered (Eisenberg et al., 2017; Perret & McKee, 2021). Coaches and teachers meet as equals and treat each other as whole persons; coaches recognize teachers’ professional expertise. Learning is teacher-directed, personalized, evidencebased, and practical in application.

Drawing and building upon Laura Lipton and Bruce Wellman’s (2017) work, Boogren (2021a) argues that all teachers benefit from physical, institutional, emotional, and instructional support. While a whole-educator approach to instructional coaching recognizes that teachers gain from support on multiple fronts (in contrast to a singular focus on instructional support), Boogren (2021a) emphasizes that no one person, including instructional coaches, should be “expected to provide all four types of support to every educator in the building”; rather, she recommends “dividing up the physical, institutional, and emotional support among the entire staff” (Location 908). What are the implications of such divisions of support in terms of leadership?

Effective instructional coaching challenges teachers by engaging them in structured metacognitive reflection and employing a gradual increase of responsibility (GIR) model (Collet, 2022; Eisenberg et al., 2017). The GIR model for coaching is an adaptation of David P. Pearson and Margaret C. Gallagher’s (1983) gradual release of responsibility model. The GIR model facilitates differentiated instructional coaching. Coaches provide teachers with differential levels of support based on teachers’ expertise and experience. As teachers’ expertise and experience change over time, coaches adjust their approach. While a teacher’s “progression is idiosyncratic and nonlinear,” the model “trends toward decreased support from coaches and increased responsibility for teachers” (Collet, 2022, p. 3).

Lingering Questions

• What are the implications of a wholeeducator approach to instructional coaching in terms of the professional development, support, and resources coaches will require, as well as how coaches will be assessed?

• What ethical considerations need to be made when developing and implementing a wholeeducator approach to instructional coaching? For example, how are professional boundaries established, communicated, and maintained?


• What implications do a wholeeducator approach to instructional coaching have for coaches’ well-being in terms of secondary trauma and compassion fatigue (for example)?


ASCD (n.d.). The ASCD whole child approach to education. https://www.

Aguilar, E. (2013). The art of coaching: Effective strategies for school transformation. Jossey-Bass.

Akyıldız, S. T., & Semerci, C. (2016). The cognitive coaching-supported reflective teaching approach in English language teaching: Academic and permanence success. Educational Research and Reviews, 11(20), 1956-1963.

Boogren, T. H. (2021a). Coaching for educator wellness: A guide to supporting new and experienced teachers. Solution Tree Press.

Boogren, T. H. (2021b, June 10). Coaching the Whole Educator. Solution Tree Blog. blog/coaching-the-whole-educator/

Whole Child (cont.)
Figure 1: Characteristics of Whole-Educator Instructional Coaches

Cheliotes, L. M., & Reilly, M. F. (2018). Coaching conversations: Transforming your school one conversation at a time. Corwin.

Chiarelott, L. (2006). Curriculum in context: Designing curriculum and instruction for teaching and learning in context. Thomson Wadsworth.

Collet, V. S. (2022). Differentiated mentoring and coaching in education: From preservice teacher to expert practitioner. Teachers College Press.

Eisenberg, E. B., Eisenberg, B. P., Medrich, E. A., & Charner, I. (2017). Instructional coaching in action: An integrated approach that transforms thinking, practice, and schools. ASCD.

Fowler, J. H., & Christakis, N. A. (2011). Connected: The surprising power of our social networks and how they shape our lives—How your friends’ friends’ friends affect everything you feel, think, and do. Little, Brown Spark.

Frazier, R. A. (2020). The joy of coaching: Characteristics of effective instructional coaches. Corwin.

knowledge: The impact of contentintensive teacher professional development, executive summary (NCEE 2016-4009). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.

Goleman, D., Boyatzis, R. E., & McKee, A. (2002). The new leaders: Transforming the art of leadership into the science of results. Little, Brown.

Instructional Coaching Group. (2018, November 28). Instructional Coaching. [Video]. YouTube. watch?v=6vXqqz2sqXE&t=4s

Jewett, P., & MacPhee, D. (2012). Adding collaborative peer coaching to our teaching identities. The Reading Teacher, 66(2), 105-110.

Knight, J. (2021). The definitive guide to instructional coaching: Seven factors for success. ASCD.

Garet, M. S., Heppen, J. B., Walters, K., Parkinson, J., Smith, T. M., Song, M., Garrett, R., Yang, R., & Borman, G. D. (2016). Focusing on mathematical

Knight, J. (2015). Better conversations: Coaching ourselves and each other to be more credible, caring, and connected. Corwin.

Musiowsky-Borneman, T., & Arnold, C. Y. (2021). The minimalist teacher. ASCD.


Ortegon, N. D. (2017). Toward the “better than well” cultural ideal: Understanding changing conceptualizations of illness and wellness and North American parenting, pedagogy, and education policy (19th-21st C.) (Doctoral dissertation, Loyola University Chicago).

Pendleton-Hart, C., & Nash, F. M. (2021). Coaching to empower teachers: A framework for improving instruction and well-being. Routledge.

Perret, K., & McKee, K. (2021). Compassionate coaching: How to help educators navigate barriers to professional growth. ASCD.

Perry, B. D., & Ablon, J. S. (2019). CPS as a neurodevelopmentally sensitive and trauma-informed approach. In A. R. Pollastri, J. S. Ablon, & M. J. G. Hone (Eds.) Collaborative problem solving: An evidence-based approach to implementation and practice (current clinical psychology) (1st ed., pp. 15-31). Springer.

Perry, B. (2020, March 30). 3. Emotional Contagion: Neurosequential Network Stress & Trauma Series [Video]. YouTube. com/watch?v=96evhMPcY2Y

Rebora, A. (Host). (2022a, June 16). Chase Mielke on addressing the underlying causes of teacher burnout.

In ASCD Connect: Powered by BAM Radio. ASCD. https://www.ascd. org/podcasts/chase-mielke-onaddressing-the-underlying-causesof-teacher-burnout

Rebora, A. (Host). (2022b, May 7). Tamera Musiowsky—Borneman and Christine Arnold on minimalist teaching. In ASCD Connect: Powered by BAM Radio. ASCD. https://www.ascd. org/podcasts/tamera-musiowskyborneman-and-christine-arnold-onminimalist-teaching

Robertson, D. A., Breckenridge-Padesky, L., Ford-Connors, E., & Paratore, J. R. (2020). What does it mean to say coaching is relational? Journal of Literacy Research. 52(1), 55-78.

Stover, K., Kissel, B., Haag, K., & Shoniker, R. (2011). Differentiated coaching: Fostering reflection with teachers. The Reading Teacher, 64(7), 498-509.

Tschannen-Moran, M., & TschannenMoran, B. (2022). Evocative coaching: Transforming schools one conversation at a time. (2nd. Ed.). Corwin.

Warren, S., & Kelsen, E. (2013). Leadership coaching: Building the capacity of urban principals in underperforming schools. Journal of Urban Learning, Teaching, and Research, (9), 18-31.


Dr. Nicole D. Ortegón is an Associate Professor of Curriculum and Instruction at Concordia University Chicago. She is Program Leader of the master’s and doctoral programs in Curriculum and Instruction, Curriculum and Instruction with a focus on Trauma and Resilience, and Differentiated Instruction. She holds a Ph.D. in cultural and educational policy studies from Loyola University Chicago and an Ed.M. in technology in education from the

Harvard Graduate School of Education. Dr. Ortegón has taught courses in Education at the college and university levels for over ten years. She formerly taught fifth through eighth grade Reading, English, Social Studies, Science, and Religion at St. Paul Lutheran Church and School in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood. She also has experience in instructional coaching, study abroad, and education outreach.


The Definitive Guide to Instructional Coaching: Seven Factors for Success (2022)

Attempting to navigate the world of Coaching literature, can be a quite daunting task.

The Definitive Guide to Instructional Coaching: Seven Factors for Success (2022) is a compendium of the research, experiences, learning in Jim Knight’s 25 year-long learning journey related to coaching and its value for teacher and student learning. This book can be considered a replacement for Knight’s previously seminal book on instructional coaching that was published in 2007. (A research summary of findings can be found here.)

This book can be used as a guide for the development and shared understanding of a coaching program with optimal results for coaches, teachers, and students. There are resources that document some mistakes to avoid, as well as assistance for coaches in knowing where to begin and guidance for each step through the coaching process. Often, coaches are hired, but attention is not given to defining what effective instructional coaching is, what are the goals and expectations of an effective coaching program, and/or providing the

Book Review
Click the cover to view on ASCD

coaches with the tools necessary to be successful and to propel teacher success. I feel that this book is a great place to start in gaining some understanding of instructional coaching. It has value for administrators, coaches, and teachers in providing theoretical alignment and a tool to create the conditions for coaches to flourish.

Model for Coaching has been evolving for over ten years. Initially this model was linear, however, in The Definitive Guide, the process is not linear. The Definitive Guide is developed around the Seven Success Factors that are essential for the implementation of a successful coaching model in a school / district:


1. The Partnership Principles (formulate the necessary foundation for a successful coaching relationship.)

2. Communication Skills

3. Coaches as Leaders


4. The Impact Cycle (Most of coach time should be spent)

5. Data

6. The Instructional Playbook


7. System Support

The Seven Success factors are then divided into three sections each organized by a question that defines a contextual framework that provides guidance related to the connection of the Factors. Each chapter of the book elaborates one of the Success Factors. At the beginning of each chapter, there is a detailed learning map that details the components and skills specific to the Success Factor. Each chapter includes research notes, anecdotal support, and insight that makes the information about each Success Factor accessible and relevant. In addition, there are guidelines, checklists, and other tools to support understanding and implementation.

Each of the chapters in The Definitive Guide concludes with the following valuable sections:

1. To Sum it Up: Brief chapter summary

2. Reflection Questions: Questions perfect for independent reflection and dialogue

3. Going Deeper: Additional resources to support the chapter, not always from the world of education

4. What’s Next?: Insight and support into next steps beyond what is explicit in the chapter

How can these chapter conclusions be used to support the development and progression of an effective coaching


Book Review (cont.)

model in schools/districts?

• Foundational knowledge for administrators, coaches, and teachers

• Valuable teaching and learning tools for coaching and non-coaching situations

• Basis for reflective dialogue

• Resource for targeted book study

An exceptionally valuable chapter, in my opinion, is Chapter 6: Instructional Playbook. An instructional playbook is a “notebook” of high impact teaching strategies that teachers can use to meet their instructional goals and to assist students in meeting their academic goals. This resource contains a table of contents to the 15 to 20 core practices included in the Playbook. A ‘one pager’ that contains additional information including an overview explanation and a research connection for each strategy. The final component included in an Instructional Playbook are the checklists.

The development of a Playbook guarantees that teachers have a depth of knowledge about the practices necessary to help people learn the materials. I believe that the concept of an Instructional Playbook is relevant to any instructional environment whether or not there are instructional coaches. Elaboration of many of the ideas in this chapter can be found in The

Instructional Playbook


Hoffman, Harris, Thomas, and Knight.

A recorded webinar of Jim Knight introducing The Definitive Guide to Instructional Coaching can be found on the ASCD website. This presentation provides insight into the development of the book and information about the components of the book. I think hearing Jim Knight’s perspectives on The Definitive Guide is an invaluable resource to coaches, teachers, and administrators. Additional resources that are mentioned in the author talk and align with strategies in The Definitive Guide can be found at Jim Knight’s instructional coaching website. For members of ASCD, The Definitive Guide to Instructional Coaching is available for a chapter by chapter preview and download at

Belinda Veillon has served in education as an middle school educator, elementary school educator, gifted program coordinator, assistant principal, principal, and director of curriculum. She has engaged in the development of districtwide programs including gifted, inclusion, response to intervention, and one-toone. At the elementary, middle, and high school levels, Belinda works with building leaders related to school improvement


planning. She has written and managed federal and state grants. Although officially retired, she continues to plan and facilitate professional learning, curriculum development, alignment and adoption, including educational technology planning and implementation.

Belinda serves as an officer of her local curriculum organization, McHenry County Curriculum Council, which partners with IL ASCD to provide high quality professional development opportunities locally and regionally.

Referred to as a “squiggle” by those with whom she has worked collaboratively, because of her ‘outside of the box thinking’, she is often able to make the impossible a reality. Her inspiration comes from her ability to make connections with concepts, ideas, and people of all ages.

When not engaged, in the world of education, as a wife and mother of two boys, she enjoys cooking, road trips, exploring the past, and wondering.




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Resource Corner


Elena Aguilar: Often I tell you what to do as a coach (or make suggestions) but here are a few thoughts about what not to do.



When my coaching didn’t work, it was because the teachers with whom I was working couldn’t concentrate on these instructional strategies or other initiatives because the truth was, their life was falling apart. READ MORE...






Understanding students’ lives can help teachers foster a sense of belonging and ensure that all students feel respected and challenged. READ MORE...


We value seasoned teachers and appreciate the spunk and passion of new teachers. However, it’s important not to become complacent within those thoughts. READ MORE...


Instructional coaches can use video to help new teachers learn through self-reflection and collaboration with more experienced colleagues. READ MORE...

COACHING IN EDUCATION PODCAST Click HERE to learn more! Click HERE to learn more!


Schools across the country were already facing major equity challenges before the pandemic, but the disruptions it caused exacerbated them. READ MORE...


When done right, professional development can improve teacher practice and student experiences. But when done wrong, it can have little to no impact and end up frustrating teachers who don’t see any relevance to their work. READ MORE...


Adults under 40 are more likely to say they had a mentor growing up than their peers in older generations. But that promising trend has hit some turbulence in recent years... READ MORE...


In their ASCD book, Why Are We Still Doing That? Positive Alternatives to Problematic Teaching Practices, authors Pérsida and William Himmele take aim at 16 common classroom practices that may be worth replacing. READ MORE...

38 Resource Corner (cont.)
Click the cover to view on ASCD


Jim Knight offers a quick overview of what instructional coaching is and how it is similar and different from other approaches to coaching. WATCH THE VIDEO...

HERE to learn more!

Lessons Learned in Leadership

I was hired for my first educational leadership position when I was 26 years old, and I was certainly not prepared for what I faced. I was going to lead an English department that did not want me; there were two internal candidates for the job, one of which the department fully supported. When I came in to meet the teachers after being hired, two teachers sat down before me and introduced themselves by saying, “We aren’t going to pay attention to you. We will outlast

you.” Needless to say, it was a rough beginning, and I didn’t have the experience to handle it smoothly.

In previous years, I completed a master’s program in educational leadership and organizational change. But while I did learn about the tax code, I did not learn about how to have difficult conversations. I knew that I was supposed to get out of my office as often as possible and get into classrooms, but I didn’t really know how to give specific feedback on what I saw. In short, I had

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I had gone through a preparation program and was still terribly unprepared, and I have learned that my feelings of confusion are not unique.

gone through a preparation program and was still terribly unprepared, and I have learned that my feelings of confusion are not unique.

Sixteen years later, I am joyfully still leading the same department. At around year 10, one of the teachers told me as we were working on creating an assessment together, “Do you remember how mean we were to you those first years?” and while one of the teachers who introduced themselves that first day has left the school, the other has a goodnatured running joke with me about which one of us will outlast the other. But it took a lot of time to get to such a positive place, and there are things that I wished someone would have said to me at the start of my leadership career.

Relationships take time, and some will be harder to build than others.

When I started in my current role, since there was resistance to my presence, I struggled with making connections with some of the teachers. But what I didn’t realize was that I did have a very specific portion of the department who was kind and seemed glad to have me there: the non-tenured teachers. I mistook these teachers as being more open for an actual relationship when really they felt the need to act differently because they were worried about their jobs. At the same time, I didn’t realize that

I was avoiding spending as much time trying to connect with the tenured staff because the interactions weren’t always comfortable for me. Within a short time, my inadvertent reluctance to forge those more difficult relationships alienated some of the teachers even further.

It is every administrator’s hope that the staff will welcome them with open arms, get to know them, and quickly build a relationship of respect. When that doesn’t happen, what it takes is time. It takes morning walks around the building saying “good morning” to each staff member. It takes lunch periods chatting in their lunch spaces. Even if it is just personal conversations, this helps share who you are and what you stand for. And every interaction, every promise that you keep or forget, tells staff whether they can trust you. And that just has to be built over time.

But the time spent is worth more than possibly anything else I have done in this role. I am honest about struggles that I have in the classroom, and that allows them to be honest about theirs. I let them know when I am not coming in because one of my children is sick, so they know that I believe that they should always take care of themselves and their families. They have come into my office to share news about pregnancies and divorces, and even other


Lessons Learned in Leadership (cont.)

job opportunities they are considering. A leader’s job is to support each staff member so that they can do their best for students, and there has to be a trusting relationship before they will let you support them.

It is normal to be nervous, or even dread, difficult conversations, but it is important to have them. Never in my master’s in leadership or even my doctorate, did anyone discuss the types of difficult conversations or

meeting with. When I have to talk to teachers about performance concerns or serious parent concerns, I still spend time worrying beforehand. And I believe that to be a positive thing: being nervous before difficult conversations means that you care about how you deliver the message and you care about the individual who will be hearing your message.

If a conversation is particularly important, take the time to prepare by running through a potential script. You could write

help us practice having them. Halfway through my first year, I knew that I was going to have to let two teachers go. I had no idea how to hold that conversation and lost sleep in the weeks leading up to the meeting. I had trouble eating, and I kept thinking about what I would say and how they would react. Looking back, I hope that whatever I said, since I can’t remember, was kind and direct. It was not the last time I would have to let a teacher know that they would not be returning.

I can remember the name of every individual whom I had to have such a

it down or practice with a colleague. Be clear and to the point, stating specifically what you have observed or been told, why it is a problem, and what needs to change. If the conversation is one that will benefit students, learning, or professionalism, then know that you are doing the right thing by being straightforward. In this case, honesty is kindness, and even if it might be uncomfortable, you need to be a leader who promotes change and growth.

It will be the little things you say and do that have the most impact.

A couple of years ago, a staff member called to let me know that she was

...being nervous before difficult conversations means that you care about how you deliver the message and you care about the individual who will be hearing your message.

running late because her elderly dog fell on the ice. After asking if the dog was ok, I told her that I would start her firstperiod class and ended the conversation by thanking her for letting me know and telling her to drive safely. Nothing about the conversation stood out as particularly meaningful to me. What I didn’t know was how much those words meant to her. Later that day, she thanked me and shared how hearing me tell her to drive safely made her feel. It made a stressful situation easier so that she could slow down and calm herself before getting behind the wheel. I try to keep this in mind whenever I am communicating with a teacher about a stressful situation: I believe that they should not let their worry about work mean that they don’t take care of themselves.

Find little ways to show each staff member that you value them as an individual. It could be small notes of appreciation when they have helped a student or colleague, or a small token of appreciation when a teacher needs to know that you are supporting them. Big gestures like catering lunch or giving t-shirts are appreciated, but the more daily interactions that genuine care for each individual goes a much longer way in building relationships.

Find a team of other school leaders because they will be the ones who

will help you talk through problems and will be there when you need to laugh, scream, or cry. On the last Friday that we were all in school before quarantine started in 2020, all the administrators in our building stood in the main hallway and started a good-natured, non-monetary pool for when we thought that we would return. None of us guessed the true length of our hiatus or the different pivoting we would need to do in order to teach our students. Because we were in uncharted territory, and we needed to be able to support teachers, we had limitless questions. The department chair team and I were in constant contact; the joke was that, aside from our immediate families, they were the last people I texted with at night and the first I texted within the morning. It is an understatement to say that I would have been lost without them.

The people that you will work with every day, particularly your leadership team, will be your biggest sources of support. A healthy team will collaborate, jump in to help one another, and be there to laugh, listen, or lift you up. Before accepting a position, ask about the relationships that exist between the building leadership team as well as the district leadership team; find the right fit for you.


Lessons Learned in Leadership (cont.)

If the structure of the school or district is such that you don’t have a leadership team, find one in your area: a contentspecific department chair group or a principal’s association, for example. The connections that you make with other leaders may turn out to be the most important, and long-lasting, in your career. Those first few years can be confusing and, certainly in my situation, more than difficult. But by sticking through, I have formed relationships that are positive and mutually supportive, and I feel more

confident in my leadership. To those towards the beginning of their journey, know that there is a community of school leaders cheering for your success, and the students are lucky to have you in their schools.

Lauren Katzman is a high school English teacher and Literacy and Performing Arts Division Head at Lake Zurich High School in Lake Zurich, Illinois.


Coaching Teachers as a United Front

Aurora East School District 131 earned exemplary and commendable ratings for all 20 schools this year, the first in a series of goals set and achieved by our school district. Our district consists of approximately 13,000 students, 67% of which are designated low-income and 48% are English Learners (Illinois State Report Card, 2022). In order to achieve this goal, we needed a clear vision of learner needs and how to increase the knowledge and skills of our students. Using research-based information married to school- and district-wide data, we implemented programs geared more specifically to our student’s needs.

With the overwhelming number of Common Core and other standards, a district focus was put on standards

RI.1 (citing textual evidence), RI.2 (summarizing main idea), RI.4(vocabulary), and W.1 (argumentative writing). Our math teachers’ focus has been on Math Practice

3(Construct viable arguments & critique the reasoning of others). This approach is designed to encourage a systematic way of using goals, along with district-wide strategies and vocabulary that ensure success in focused academic areas. The increasing level of complexity at each grade level allows for the building of skills that create knowledge and ability across the district. Having district-

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Esther Galat Rachel Gerhard Kathy O’Brien Vicki Schacht

wide common vocabulary and learning goals focuses on student learning and progress. Enhanced learning, skills, and confidence lead to student achievement and success in the district.

Instructional Coaching

One very important component of our success was the implementation of instructional coaching at all levels. Instructional coaches work as a team, with district leadership and ongoing support, so that all 20 schools at all grade levels K-12 move as one team with one plan. Implementing 40 instructional coaches across our district called for training from Learning Forward and a comprehensive observation protocol called Teachstone’s CLASS® system. Data is collected on a regular basis by coaches doing observations, specifically looking at 4 domains; emotional support, classroom organization, instructional support, and student engagement.

The coaching teams work with their administration on Instructional Leadership Teams to analyze the data, monitor progress and provide targeted professional development in needed areas. From this data analysis, coaches also create lessons and meet with teachers to increase capacity in skill areas needed. Coaches join the Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) to guide, answer questions, increase teacher

knowledge, dissect our data, give instructional support, and brainstorm solutions to everyday teaching situations. They are not seen as evaluative members by peers but as valuable supports to aid each teacher and student in learning and growing as strong readers, writers, and thinkers.

Student Focus

The main focus is on the relationship between the teacher and the student. Students are valuable members of our educational process. As such, they are informed of the data in order to celebrate areas of strength, while also making necessary changes and building an understanding of how they can help our school and district increase in weak areas. For example, when CLASS® observations showed a less-than-desired score on engagement, teachers implemented more small group sessions, focused learning goals, and used a variety of modalities in the classroom. Students were made aware of where they were at in their learning, then set goals and monitored the effectiveness of those goals.

Modeled Strategies

Coaches also conference with teachers to discuss their professional goals for growth through strategies, specific lessons, and best practices. Each month a new spotlight teaching strategy is introduced and modeled to staff by the


coaches, and coaches make themselves available to co-plan, co-teach, and model these strategies and other best practices.

At Cowherd Middle School, coaches have worked extensively to increase vocabulary with our students. Research on ELL students and low-income students shows that strong support in vocabulary can lead to great gains. Studies have found that children from

The school was in the top ten vocabulary scorers for Illinois for 7 of the 9 months monitored. This gave students and staff the positive feeling that real growth was occurring through the hard work of our students. Hattie calculates a .97 effect size on student achievement with explicit vocabulary instruction (Waack, 2015). A 60 percent growth in vocabulary for EL students was recognized last year with

lower socioeconomic backgrounds need greater vocabulary development opportunities than their peers from higher-income households (Farkas & Beron, 2004).

With our district focus on standard RI.4, which includes the skill to determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words or phrases in a text, we implemented a building-wide vocabulary program where all teachers have word walls, the principal has a word of the day, we host monthly competitions through, and also use to monitor how our school ranks compared to other area schools using the program.

partial implementation of the program, and this year the full rollout is expected to prove even greater increased knowledge, reading comprehension, and pride due to the vocabulary focus.

Instructional coaches have been an integral part of filling the achievement gap between the vision the district has cast and actual student growth. Being able to see from an outside perspective the learning that takes place on a daily basis and reporting that to teachers, students, parents, and staff allows all individuals to celebrate the growth in our district. Providing an enhanced focus on key skills and abilities enables teachers and learners to hone target skills that

Coaching Teachers (cont.)
A common goal and steps to get there are brought together by the cohesiveness of this group of coaches that act as a link to solidify the learning in our classrooms.

will build confidence and success to achieve even greater success. A common goal and steps to get there are brought together by the cohesiveness of this group of coaches that act as a link to solidify the learning in our classrooms. By observing, communicating, and enacting, all invested individuals within the district are informed about not only where we are going but how to get there. We celebrate the growth and achievements of all of our students and staff, and the incredible things that happen throughout the district on a regular basis.

Esther Galat has been a special educator for 27 years, including 20 years in Aurora East School District 131. She taught for 16 years at the high school and is now an instructional coach for special education at two middle schools.

Rachel Gerhard, math instructional coach, has been an ESL Math teacher in the district for 15 years. She currently co-teaches 8th-grade math in addition to being a coach.

Dr. Kathy O’Brien has taught ELA for 15 years at Cowherd with an ELL focus. She also taught science, social studies, and math in a sheltered classroom for 2 years.


Aurora East USD 131: District Snapshot.

AURORA EAST USD 131 | District Snapshot. (n.d.). Retrieved December 16, 2022, from https://www.


Farkas, G., & Beron, K. (2004). The detailed age trajectory of oral vocabulary knowledge: Differences by class and Race. Social Science Research, 33(3), 464–497. ssresearch.2003.08.001

Waack, S. (n.d.). Visible learning. VISIBLE LEARNING. Retrieved December 16, 2022, from

Dr. Vicki Schacht has taught 7th and 8th-grade science and social studies at Cowherd for 15 years and currently also works as the instructional coach for science and social studies. She was part of the inaugural team of teachers who opened the John C. Dunham STEM Partnership School at Aurora University.


Illinois Teachers’ Perceptions of Teacher Leadership: Strong and Weak Indicators

As I wrote recently (Hunzicker, 2022), teacher leadership has been described in terms of influence (York-Barr & Duke, 2004), roles and responsibilities (Katzenmeyer & Moller, 2009; Moller & Pankake, 2006), functions (TLEC, 2012), competencies (NEA et al. 2018), skill sets (Danielson, 2006), worldviews (Smulyan, 2016), and social networks (Shea et al., 2020). Different perspectives offer valuable contributions, yet varying notions of teacher leadership create ambiguity. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary (2022), an indicator is a gauge or sense that allows a person to draw a conclusion. Because teacher leadership is so vaguely defined in both research and practice, indicators can assist teachers in using their tacit knowledge to recognize and define teacher leadership. In other words, even if teachers cannot articulate what teacher leadership is and what it is not, they “know it when they see it.”

This article reports the findings of a statewide study conducted to better understand which indicators of teacher leadership Illinois teachers consider strong and which indicators they consider weak. In November 2022, the first report of the study, which compared Illinois teachers’ perceptions of teacher leadership across three school characteristics (region of the state;

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Jana Lynn Hunzicker

rural, suburban, or urban community; and school socioeconomic status) was published in the Illinois School Board Journal (Hunzicker, 2022). This second and final report compares Illinois teachers’ perceptions of teacher leadership across five teacher characteristics: grade range taught, years of teaching experience, highest academic achievement, leadership credentials, and teacher leader self-perception.

The Study

Using an online survey, data were collected between October 2019 and February 2020. An invitation to participate that included the study’s survey link was sent via email to each Regional Office of Education (ROE) in Illinois, requesting that the invitation be forwarded to all district superintendents within their region. Chicago Public Schools was excluded due to extensive requirements for getting permission to conduct research. Superintendents were asked to forward the email to all teachers in their district. In this way, all teachers employed in an Illinois public school at the time of the study were potentially invited to participate.

The survey, which was administered using Qualtrics Survey Software, included a rating exercise, a ranking exercise, and 12 demographic survey questions. This article reports quantitative findings

for the ranking exercise, which was designed to address the study’s second research question: Which indicators of teacher leadership do Illinois teachers consider strong and which do they consider weak? A total of 177 teachers completed the survey, but only 107 provided the demographic information required for the study’s second phase of analysis (reported here). The majority of respondents were women, a full range of public school settings were represented, and teachers from all regions of the state participated, except for the City of Chicago.

Seven Indicators of Teacher Leadership

Seven indicators of teacher leadership can be used to distinguish teacher leadership from simply teacher professionalism: connections, credentials, credibility, expertise, frequency, scale, and variety (Hunzicker, 2019). A definition for each indicator is provided in Table 1 on the following page.

To determine which indicators Illinois teachers considered strong and which indicators they considered weak, survey respondents were asked to rank the seven indicators from strongest, or most likely to identify a teacher leader (1), to weakest, or least likely to identify a teacher leader (7). Overall, respondents ranked expertise (2.63) and credibility (2.74) as the two strongest indicators of

of Teacher Leadership

Mean Rankings of Strongest to Weakest Indicators of Teacher Leadership Overall

teacher leadership and scale (5.83) as the weakest indicator of teacher leadership. Frequency (3.69), connections (3.96), variety (4.25), and credentials (4.86) fell somewhere in between (see Table 1). The means reported here represent the ranking averages for the 107 responses eligible for the study’s second analysis. It should be noted that, although the means differed slightly for the 177 responses utilized in the study’s first analysis (Hunzicker, 2022), the ranked order of the seven indicators of teacher leadership was the same in both analyses.

Illinois Teachers’ Perceptions of Teacher Leadership

Next, teachers’ overall perceptions of the seven indicators of teacher leadership were analyzed by subgroup for grade range taught, years of teaching experience, highest academic achievement, leadership credentials, and teacher leader self-perception.

Grade Range Taught

Of the study’s 107 respondents, 18 (17%) taught grades PK-2, 14 (13%) taught grades 3-5, 18 (17%) taught grades 6-8, 30 (28%) taught grades 9-12, and 27 (25%) taught a combination of grades within PK-12. When the overall rankings of the seven indicators were compared to subgroups by grade range taught, teachers across all grade ranges ranked expertise and credibility as the strongest two indicators of teacher leadership, with only teachers teaching a combination of grade ranges ranking credibility higher than expertise (see Table 2 on the following page). Teachers across all grade ranges ranked frequency as the third or fourth strongest indicator, with PK-5 teachers ranking frequency slightly lower than teachers at other grade levels. Instead, PK-5 teachers ranked connections higher (3) and variety and credentials lower (6 and 5), whereas high school teachers (grades 9-12) and teachers

Table 1

Table 2

Mean Rankings of Strongest to Weakest Indicators of Teacher Leadership by Grade Range Taught

Note: Shaded areas indicate variations from the overall and subgroup rankings.

teaching a combination of grade ranges rated connections and credentials lower (5 and 6) than the other groups. Across all grade ranges, teachers consistently ranked scale as the weakest indicator of teacher leadership (7). In the grade range taught comparison, only the rankings of teachers in grades 6-8 mirrored the study’s overall rankings for all seven indicators.

Years of Teaching Experience

Of the study’s 107 respondents, 17 (16%) had 1-5 years of teaching experience, 21 (20%) had 6-10 years of teaching experience, 23 (21%) had 11-15 years of teaching experience, 16 (15%) had 1620 years of teaching experience, and 30 (28%) had more than 20 years of teaching experience. When the overall rankings of the seven indicators of teacher

leadership were compared to subgroups by years of teaching experience, teachers at all experience levels again ranked expertise and credibility as the strongest two indicators of teacher leadership, with one exception (see Table 3 on the following page). Teachers with 1-5 years of experience ranked frequency higher (2) than credibility (3). While teachers with 6-20 years of experience ranked frequency either third or fourth, teachers with more than 20 years of experience ranked frequency even lower (5), flagging frequency as an undecided indicator of teacher leadership in this comparison. Rankings by years of teaching experience also varied for connections, where teachers with 11-15 and more than 20 years of experience ranked connections third, or more important; and teachers

Perception of Teacher Leadership (cont.)

Table 3

Mean Rankings of Strongest to Weakest Indicators of Teacher Leadership by Years of Teaching Experience

with 1-5 and 16-20 years of experience ranked connections fifth, or less important. Teachers across all years of teaching experience ranked variety fourth or fifth, and all groups consistently rated credentials (6) and scale (7). In the years of teaching experience comparison, the rankings of teachers with 6-10 years of teaching experience were closest to the study’s overall rankings.

Highest Academic Achievement

Of the study’s 107 respondents, 35 (33%) held a bachelor’s degree, 64 (60%) held a master’s degree, 5 (4%) held a doctoral degree, and 3 (3%) held a graduate-level certificate, license, or endorsement. When the overall rankings of the seven indicators of teacher leadership were compared to subgroups by highest academic achievement,

the rankings of teachers holding a graduate-level certificate, license, or endorsement varied significantly from the norm (see Table 4 on the following page). For example, teachers who held a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree ranked expertise and credibility as the two strongest indicators of teacher leadership, while teachers whose highest academic achievement was a graduatelevel credential ranked expertise fourth. The rankings of the graduate-level credential group also resulted in a tied mean for credibility and credentials, revealing that this group considered expertise and credibility weaker indicators and credentials a stronger indicator than teachers in the other groups. Teachers across all academic achievement categories ranked variety fifth and scale

Note: Shaded areas indicate variations from the overall and subgroup rankings.

Table 4

Mean Rankings of Strongest to Weakest Indicators of Teacher Leadership by Highest Academic Achievement

Note: Asterisks identify rankings with a tied mean, indicating that the rankings could be reversed (e.g., 3, 2 instead of 2, 3). Shaded areas indicate variations from the overall and subgroup rankings.

sixth or seventh. While teachers holding a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree ranked connections third or fourth, the graduate-level credentials group ranked connections seventh. In the highest academic achievement comparison, the bachelor’s and doctoral degree groups ranked the seven indicators very closely to the study’s overall rankings, but the master’s degree group’s rankings were identical to the study’s overall rankings.

Leadership Credentials

Of the study’s 107 respondents, 41 (38%) held a school- or district-level teacher leadership role or title, 6 (6%) held a district- or regional-level teacher leadership credential, 10 (9%) held

National Board Certification and/or a state teacher leadership endorsement, 6 (6%) held a state-level administrative license, and 44 (41%) held no leadership credentials. When the overall rankings of the seven indicators of teacher leadership were compared to subgroups by leadership credentials, all groups ranked expertise and credibility as the strongest indicators of teacher leadership (1 or 2), except for teachers with a district or regional teacher leadership credential (see Table 5 on the following page). The rankings of the district or regional teacher leadership credential group resulted in a tied mean for credibility and connections, revealing that this group considered credibility

Perception of Teacher Leadership (cont.)

Table 5

Mean Rankings of Strongest to Weakest Indicators of Teacher Leadership by Leadership Credentials

Note: Asterisks identify rankings with a tied mean, indicating that the rankings could be reversed (e.g., 3, 2 instead of 2, 3). Shaded areas indicate variations from the overall and subgroup rankings.

less important and connections more important than teachers in the other groups. Teachers holding a district or regional teacher leadership credential also ranked frequency lower (5) than teachers in all other groups (3 or 4). Similarly, while most groups also ranked connections third or fourth, teachers holding a state administrative license ranked connections sixth. On the other hand, while most groups ranked variety fourth or fifth, teachers holding a state administrative license ranked variety third. As in other comparisons, most groups ranked credentials and scale as the two weakest indicators of teacher leadership (6 and 7). However, the state administrative license group ranked

credentials fifth, more important than connections (6), revealing a different perspective than the other groups. In the leadership credentials comparison, the rankings of teachers holding National Board Certification and/or a state teacher leadership endorsement were close to the study’s overall rankings. The rankings of teachers holding a school or district teacher leadership role or title and teachers with no leadership credentials at all were identical to the study’s overall rankings.

Teacher Leader Self-Perception

In this study, participants were asked to identify with one of four teacher leader self-perceptions. The identity of the


Table 6

Mean Rankings of Strongest to Weakest Indicators of Teacher Leadership by Teacher Leader Self-Perception

Note: Asterisks identify rankings with a tied mean, indicating that the rankings could be reversed (e.g., 3, 2 instead of 2, 3). Shaded areas indicate variations from the overall and subgroup rankings.

professional teacher was described in the survey as, “I do not consider myself a teacher leader. I prefer to focus on my own students, teaching practices, and classroom.” The identity of an aspiring teacher leader was described as, “I would like to serve as a teacher leader but have not had the time, do not feel ready, or have not had very many opportunities to do so. I am currently building my teaching knowledge and skills but hope to serve as a teacher leader sometime in the future.” The identity of a developing teacher leader was described as “I have served in a few teacher leadership roles and assumed a few leadership responsibilities for the benefit of students in and beyond my own classroom. I am currently

building my teaching and leadership knowledge and skills so that I can lead even more.” The identity of a teacher leader was described as “I have served in a variety of teacher leadership roles and assumed many different leadership responsibilities for the benefit of students in and beyond my own classroom. I believe my colleagues view me as a teacher leader.”

Of the study’s 107 respondents, 15 (14%) described themselves as professional teachers, 18 (17%) described themselves as aspiring teacher leaders, 36 (34%) described themselves as developing teacher leaders, and 38 (35%) described themselves as teacher leaders. When the

Perception of Teacher Leadership (cont.)

overall rankings of the seven indicators of teacher leadership were compared to subgroups by teacher leader selfperception, once again all groups except one ranked expertise and credibility as the two strongest indicators of teacher leadership (see Table 6 on the preceding page). Only the rankings of aspiring teacher leaders resulted in a tied mean for credibility and frequency, revealing that this group considered credibility less important and frequency more important than teachers in the other groups, who ranked frequency third or fourth. The rankings for connections varied widely, with professional teachers and developing teacher leaders ranking connections stronger (3) and aspiring teacher leaders and teacher leaders ranking connections weaker (5) compared to the study’s overall ranking of 4. While aspiring, developing, and teacher leaders ranked variety fourth or fifth and credentials a consistent 6, the professional teacher group ranked variety sixth and credentials fifth, indicating that credentials were more important than variety. As in the previous comparisons, teachers across all self-perception groups ranked scale seventh, or the weakest indicator of teacher leadership. The teacher leader self-perception comparison is the only comparison in the study where none of the subgroups ranked closely or consistently with the study’s overall rankings.

Strong and Weak Indicators

Comparing Illinois teachers’ perceptions of teacher leadership by grade range taught, years of teaching experience, highest academic achievement, leadership credentials, and teacher leader self-perception revealed which indicators of teacher leadership Illinois teachers consider strong and which they consider weak.

Expertise and Credibility

In this study, expertise was defined as being an expert or “go-to” person. With only one exception, expertise was considered either the first or the second indicator of teacher leadership across all comparisons. Only teachers holding a graduate-level credential ranked expertise lower (4) in favor of frequency, credibility, and credentials. Because teachers in the study whose highest academic achievement was a graduatelevel credential comprised only 3% of the study’s respondents, this finding appears to be an anomaly. Because this subgroup did not hold graduate degrees, they may have prioritized credentials and frequent acts of teacher leadership over being a known expert due to their higher visibility.

Credibility was defined in this study as being an exemplary teacher. Although most respondents ranked credibility as the first or second strongest indicator


Perception of Teacher Leadership (cont.)

of teacher leadership, teachers with 1-5 years of experience, teachers holding a graduate-level credential, aspiring teacher leaders, and—to a lesser extent—teachers holding a district or regional teacher leadership credential ranked credibility as the third strongest indicator, in favor of frequency, credentials, and connections. One common theme among these four subgroups is teachers’ novice or developing status as teacher leaders. Again, it is possible that these teachers recognized visible and immediate indicators of teacher leadership, like connections, more so than abstract indicators, like credibility. One respondent reasoned, “Being an exemplary teacher creates the respect needed from peers to be seen as a leader.” Taking into consideration the overall and subgroup rankings for expertise and credibility across all five comparisons in this analysis, the 107 teachers in this study largely viewed expertise and credibility as the two indicators most likely to identify a teacher leader.


In this study, the frequency was defined as engaging in acts of leadership often. While most respondents ranked frequency as either the third or fourth strongest indicator of teacher leadership, four subgroups varied from the norm. While teachers with 20 or more years of

teaching experience and teachers holding a district or regional teacher leadership credential ranked frequency fifth, or weaker than other groups, teachers holding a graduate-level credential and aspiring teacher leaders ranked frequency as first or second most important, with rankings of 1 and 2 respectively. One respondent explained, “A teacher leader must successfully perform acts of leadership often.” Again, it is possible that because the graduate-level credentialed teachers and the aspiring teacher leaders were still developing as teacher leaders, they may have been more likely to prioritize frequency as a visible and immediate indicator of teacher leadership. Because teachers with 20 or more years of experience and those holding district or regional teacher leadership credentials generally have more leadership experience, they may have been more likely to prioritize quality over quantity. These findings indicate that frequency is a stronger indicator of teacher leadership, but rarely the strongest indicator.

Connections and Variety

Teachers in most subgroups ranked connections and variety as the third, fourth, or fifth indicator of teacher leadership, suggesting that these indicators are neither strong nor weak in terms of identifying teacher leadership. However, four subgroups ranked


connections and variety lower than the others. PK-5 teachers and teachers identifying as professional teachers (as opposed to aspiring, developing, or teacher leaders) ranked variety sixth.

were considered the two weakest indicators of teacher leadership by most teacher subgroups, with credentials generally rated slightly higher (6) than scale (7). One respondent commented,

Teachers holding a state administrative license ranked connections sixth, and teachers holding a graduate-level credential ranked connections seventh. In this study, connections were defined as a teacher leader who is well-networked with others. Perhaps teachers holding graduate-level and/or administrative credentials viewed teacher leadership as an individual endeavor more so than a team effort. Variety was defined as engaging in many different types of leadership. It is possible that teachers in the primary and elementary grades and those with no desire to engage in leadership activities are more focused on classroom routines and/or one or two types of teacher leadership instead of many different types. This possibility is supported by the fact that 44% of the teacher respondents in this study held no teacher leadership credentials. Based on these findings, both connections and variety appear to be less important indicators of teacher leadership.

Credentials and Scale

Across the board, credentials and scale

“Leadership is seen more than it is certified,” and another respondent wrote, “Leadership is demonstrated, not designated by credentials.” Even so, four teacher subgroups ranked credentials higher. PK-5 teachers and professional teachers ranked credentials fifth, more important than variety. Teachers holding a state administrative license ranked credentials fifth, more important than connections; and teachers holding a graduate-level credential ranked credentials third, more important than both expertise and variety. In this study, credentials were defined as being trained or certified as a teacher leader. It seems that teachers who were highly focused on their classroom teaching and those who held a leadership or graduate-level credential were most likely to recognize credentials as a strong indicator of teacher leadership. One respondent reasoned, “Once trained, a teacher should have the credentials to lead. Expertise, credibility, and credentials should go hand in hand.” Scale, which was defined as coordinating

“Leadership is seen more than it is certified.”

large-scale projects or initiatives, was consistently ranked lowest (7) across all subgroups, with only teachers holding a doctorate or a graduate-level credential rating scale sixth. One respondent explained, “Scale is not always relevant. I have worked in small districts and large districts. Not all leaders have a large scale to work in.” Taking into consideration the overall and subgroup rankings for credentials and scale across all five comparisons, the teachers in this study generally viewed credentials and scale as the two indicators least likely to identify teacher leadership.


This article sought to address the question, which indicators of teacher leadership do Illinois teachers consider strong and which do they consider weak? Based on the rankings of 107 teachers, expertise and credibility were the two strongest indicators of teacher leadership, with frequency running a close third. Variety and connections fell somewhere in the middle, and credentials and scale emerged as the two weakest indicators. Although the study’s survey response rate was small, these findings provide a glimpse into Illinois teachers’ perceptions of teacher leadership and offer food for thought for readers seeking to better understand teacher leadership within and beyond Illinois.


Danielson, C. (2006). Teacher leadership that strengthens professional practice. ASCD.

Hunzicker, J. L. (2022). Indicators of teacher leadership: Comparing Illinois teachers’ perceptions. Illinois School Board Journal, 90(6), 22-26.

Hunzicker, J. L. (2019). What makes a teacher a leader? Kappa Delta Pi Record, 55(3),130-136. https://doi.or g/10.1080/00228958.2019.1622384

Katzenmeyer, M. H., & Moller, G. V. (2009). Awakening the sleeping giant: Helping teachers develop as leaders, (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Merriam-Webster (2022). Indicator. Retrieved from

Moller, G., & Pankake, A. (2006). Lead with me: A principal’s guide to teacher leadership. Larchmont, NY: Eye on Education, Inc.

National Education Association, National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, and the Center for Teaching Quality (2018). The Teacher Leadership Competencies. Retrieved from default/files/202007/NEA_ TLCF_20180824.pdf

Perception of Teacher Leadership

Shea, D., Alemu, D. S., & Visser, M. J. (2020). A social network study of transformational teacher influence. Teacher Development, 24(5), 603-625. 020.1818614

Smulyan, L. (2016). Stepping into their power: The development of a teacher leadership stance. Schools: Studies in Education, 13(1), 8-28. https://doi. org/10.1086/685800

Teacher Leadership Exploratory Consortium (2012). Teacher Leader Model Standards. Retrieved from topics/teaching_quality/pdf/ teacher_leader_model_standards. pdf

York-Barr, J., & Duke, K. (2004). What do we know about teacher leadership? Findings from two decades of scholarship. Review of Educational Research, 74(3), 255-31. https://doi. org/10.3102/00346543074003255

Dr. Jana Hunzicker is a professor and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the College of Education and Health Sciences at Bradley University in Peoria, IL. She served for 16 years as a middle school teacher and elementary/middle school administrator before transitioning into higher education in 2007. In addition to her administrative responsibilities, Dr. Hunzicker teaches graduate courses in teacher leadership, higher education administration, and scholarly research for Bradley’s online Doctor of Education program. She has authored over 50 refereed journal articles and book chapters and served as editor of the NAPDS-endorsed book Teacher Leadership in Professional Development Schools (2018).Dr. Hunzicker can be reached at


Personalized Learning: Developing Individualized Learning Plans for Greater Student Achievement

Recognizing a paradigm shift to personalized learning does not occur in a single day, month, or even year, Butler School District 53 adopted a multi-year plan to focus on developing individualized, personal learning plans for each student within the district. During the 2021-2022 school year, District 53 adopted Otus to support the district’s goals of providing a robust and personalized learning environment for all students. This single platform supports personalized learning, benchmarks, formative assessments, differentiated instruction, data-informed instruction, and socialemotional learning, and addresses learning loss. The goal was to compile all data into a single place in order to streamline the access of data, visualize the data, and set performance goals. Once the goals have been set, the platform allows for the creation of personalized learning places, measures progress, and supports student growth.

Setting Individual Student Goals for Academic Performance

By bringing together all of the data points from formative, summative, state, and local assessments,

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educators and administrators can develop individualized student goals for growth in academic performance for each student. These goals are meant to be attainable for each student as well as to have each student achieve their highest academic potential. The end result is that every student receives a personalized learning plan, where the teacher can track individual student progress over time and the plans exist with the student, not the teacher or the class, or the grade.

Using Data to Make Informed Decisions

The initial focus of the personalized learning plan roll out was analytics. Teachers and staff learned how to access and interpret data, form groups to differentiate instruction, analyze data to set personalized goals, and collaborate with grade level and content teams based on shared data points.

Teachers will use these data points to help students achieve goals, monitor progress with evidence, and create more ease and transparency when collaborating with other staff members to help students achieve goals. In daily instruction, teachers tag assignments with standards, view student mastery, and can quickly identify and act on learning gaps with clear visualization of student growth. Additionally, teachers can quickly make decisions about

strategies that worked the best for skill mastery, common themes among students who struggled or excelled, and teaching practices that show improvement in the data.

As an example, teachers utilized the learning management system, after professional development, to compare two assessments and results from overtime. Using this data, teachers differentiated small-group instruction to meet the needs of all students within the classroom for skill and concept mastery.

Administrators access a complete understanding of student performance and interventions at a strategic level, create shared visibility among many stakeholders, and support consistency in tracking and monitoring interventions across a school.

Aligning Learning with District Strategic Goals

The district embarked on a strategic process to establish a framework and guiding document for comprehensive planning for 2018 to 2022. According to the resulting Strategic Plan, instruction is presented as strengthening teaching and learning by identifying enhancements for the K-8 STEM Curriculum, developing a framework for social-emotional learning, reviewing community data in order to update expectations and


Personalized Learning (cont.)

readiness of a District 53 graduate, conducting an audit of extracurricular activities and exploratories in order to provide students with more choices, increased learning, and improved student engagement.

As a result of this strategic planning initiative, the district’s strategic goals include:

• Developing and executing a plan for personalized learning that is based on best practices and measurable progress;

• Developing a plan with the Board of Education to set student performance goals that reflect continuous growth in all students;

• Developing a multi-year plan to create curriculum with teachers through the implementation of professional learning communities and aligning curriculum across grade levels;

• Faculty alignment with district-wide teaching best practices.

As the curriculum evolves so will assessments that can be aligned with standards and learning targets that

provide insight into student performance beyond percentages. Therefore, departments and grade levels can have informed conversations regarding how to target specific areas for growth.

These goals pertaining to individualized student academic achievement guide Butler School District 53 to continue to focus on high academic performance for every student within the district to realize their full potential.

Collaborating with Families

The school-home partnership is paramount to the success of children. As part of the rollout of personalized learning strategies, all District 53 families received access to family accounts that allow parents to access 3rd party data (IAR, MAP, etc.) for their children. This allows just-in-time access for parents to review the progress of their students as well as shared data points for review during parent-teacher discussions on academic performance and areas of growth. By providing this family access, the educational journey becomes more transparent for all stakeholders in supporting every student.

By providing this family access, the educational journey becomes more transparent for all stakeholders in supporting every student.

Impact on Student Achievement through State and Local Assessments

The Illinois State Board of Education, through its annual Summative Designations, designated Brook Forest Elementary School as Exemplary, ranking in the top 10% of all schools throughout the state of Illinois. Additionally, Butler Junior High School received a Commendable designation with no underperforming groups. Furthermore, in 2022, 96.4% of the district’s eighth graders passed Algebra I, compared to the state benchmark of 29.9%. The percentage of growth targets for MAP testing for ELA and Math exceeds 100% and approximately 75% of district students met or exceeded proficiency for Math and ELA on IAR testing.

Assessment data from national, state, and local sources have been analyzed and synthesized to highlight areas of strength and opportunities to inform teaching and learning. As evidenced, robust Student Performance and strong Academic Improvement are categorically

represented across all datasets for Butler School District 53 with recommendations for continued growth. Testament to the District’s health, Brook Forest Elementary School has been recognized as a 2022 National Blue Ribbon School and Butler Junior High School received a 2021 designation as a National Blue Ribbon School. Furthermore, the District has outperformed or equaled the top tier of all the historically designated comparable districts and is positioned as the highest-performing district when considering both ELA and Math IAR data comprehensively.

Dr. Paul O’Malley is Superintendent of Schools at Butler School District 53, a K-8 school district serving students and families in Oak Brook, Illinois. Dr. O’Malley is a proven school executive with a commitment to improving academic excellence using fiscally sound practices to ensure every student is provided with a world-class education.


Coaching Hindsight: 3 Things I Would Have Done Differently

Hindsight, they say, is 2020. Using the clarity hindsight brings to inform your next move is wise. Too often we reflect on our experiences, but do not use the reflection to propel us to a new place. This was definitely the case for me.

In my journey as an educational leader, I learned about coaching and used it to support my staff and students. I didn’t have a plan, and probably didn’t have a clue, about when, why and how to use the concept of coaching to support my growth as a leader, enhance our culture, or give teachers and students ways to support each other. Since the end of my career as an educational leader and the beginning of my second career as a coach, I have thought many times of what I would do differently. Here are three steps I would take.

1.) Hire a leadership coach. Now, granted I am currently a coach, but if I would have known then what I know now about how coaching supports leadership I would have found a coach when I started working in 1987. Coaches provide opportunities for clients to stop and think. Viktor Frankl has been credited as saying, “Between stimulus and response there

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is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” This idea

and that confidence in my ability is a game changer. I don’t secondguess myself or keep looking for

explains the exact space that coaching provides leaders—the space to grow and live within the values we often talk about, but seldom define, share and reinforce. As leaders, we don’t take the time to create that space for ourselves and our learning. We attend professional development, but then return to our buildings and leave the PowerPoint on the shelf. Coaching would have helped me bring all of that learning to life and leadership.

Recently, I asked my leadership clients what the greatest benefits of coaching are, and here are what two current leaders shared.

The greatest benefit of coaching

for me is learning to make clearer and better decisions. When I work with a coach to be more mindful and thoughtful about decisions in one area of my life, the skills I learn transfer. I am more thoughtful about (and confident in) my decisions since I started working with a coach,

other solutions. I’ve found what will work, I’m committed to it, and consequently, I get traction moving forward. I’ve stopped “spinning my wheels’’ so much, so to speak.

The benefits are many:

• It forces you to think beyond the immediate answers to problems that you are working through

• It allows you to process with someone who really listens and occasionally asks the hard questions (which others might be either fearful of doing or illequipped to do)

• It’s not just talking, it’s actionable & solution-based

• It helps you stay accountable for plans that are developed.

• It models how to be reflective

This idea explains the exact space that coaching provides leaders—the space to grow and live within the values we often talk about, but seldom define, share and reinforce.

even at times when you are not being coached

• It carves time out of chaos and forces you to stop and think.

• As educators, we talk about how important metacognition is, yet we typically don’t voluntarily do that ourselves. Coaching allows us to think about our own thinking as a professional.

Brad Mitchell, Principal, Timothy Christian High School

Ultimately, hiring my own coach would have helped me to be a better leader and to coach others more effectively.

2.) Create a coaching culture. Coaching cultures prioritize growth, relationships, thoughtful action, and accountability. Focusing on the aspects of a coaching culture allows leaders to create brave and safe places for everyone. If I could go back here is what I would do.

Identify our school values and the associated behaviors and outcomes. Every school creates a mission and vision statement that is meant to guide what we do and how we behave. I think I missed the mark in not linking these statements to values. In my school, I believe we would have been able to identify our values, but digging deeper

into values was a step we should have been more proactive about.

A coaching culture supports five main values: trust, respect, curiosity, growth, and accountability. These values are at the core of our school communities. Bringing them alive by identifying what actions support (and don’t support) them, what the outcomes of these actions are, and how we communicate them, creates a place that is focused on growth and relationships.

Identify and practice coaching behaviors. The behaviors or skills that coaching requires provide opportunities for thoughtful engagement focused on solutions for all members of the school community. These behaviors are embedded in our philosophies, but are sometimes not part of our rushed reality.

Listening is the top skill in coaching. When we learn to listen and not respond we create spaces where people can not only be safe, but also brave. Bravery allows us to dig deep, admit mistakes, ask and answer hard questions, and improve relationships. The second skill is to ask questions based on what you hear, not what you want to know. This skill is difficult because we are usually running from one thing to another. If a conversation is important and you want real change, make the time to

Coaching Hindsight (cont.)

ask questions based on what the other person is saying, not what you want to know. A third important coaching behavior is silence. We are all taught about wait time with students, but

Creating a coaching culture built on values, coaching behaviors, and mindset would have created a more supportive environment where people would be free to learn, make mistakes, and grow.

often do not apply it with adults in the community. Asking open-ended thoughtful questions requires thinktime in order to provide a thoughtful response. Without it, we are unable to find real answers from within.

Develop a coaching mindset.

The coaching mindset, combined with the behaviors and skills of coaching, builds a community grounded in the belief that everyone is capable of growth. The mindset of a coach is curious, open, and believes in the potential of every member of the community. This allows for creativity and self-directed actions leading to more confidence and better relationships. An additional part of the coaching mindset is controlling our own expectations or ego. When we are working with someone and we have a specific outcome in mind, the other person is unable to tap their own knowledge or understanding because we have already determined an outcome.

3.) Create a peer coaching program for teachers and students.

Each of us has had the moment in school where we head next door to our teammate and say something like “She is driving me crazy today.” or “I can’t get him to do anything.” Many times we respond with “I know, I had the same problem last week.” It is nice to have others relate to our problems, but the problem still exists. The advice can sometimes come in handy, but most times it would be more valuable if someone could ask a couple of questions that focus on the problem at hand. For example, what is bugging you the most? What would help in the next 15 minutes?

During a frustrating day, I asked a teacher what would help. She responded, “Can you take him for a walk so we can all refocus?” Trust, respect, curiosity, and accountability all are at play in that response. There are boundaries and understandings from both sides. These two simple questions refocused the

The coaching mindset... builds a community grounded in the belief that everyone is capable of growth.

conversation and allowed the teacher to come to a place where she could be accountable to her class and help the student in distress, not to mention her immediate sanity.

These same opportunities can be created for students. Modeling and having students ask questions of each other in learning and social situations can help them to learn how to stop and reflect and then use that reflection to create new understanding.

Creating opportunities for staff and students to learn and practice coaching skills and the coaching mindset can result in: improved performance and productivity, a proactive approach to personal challenges/obstacles/ frustration, improved self-management, and more productive teams.

The space between stimulus and response is a place where we allow ourselves and others to grow and stay tethered to the important values of our school communities. These three steps can help leaders to create brave, motivated, and productive schools. Something I wish I would have done better.

Robin Bruebach is the owner and ACCcertified coach at Brave Reflections Coaching and an ILASCD presenter. She has 33 years of experience in Elementary and Middle School teaching and leadership.

Coaching Hindsight (cont.)

Leading Educational Equity: Perspectives from a White Male Superintendent

I have been on my personal equity journey for almost 10 years, leading this work as a high school principal and now as a superintendent. Over the years, some things have come into clear perspective for me. As educators, we have a shared purpose to educate and support the children of our communities, and in doing so, must be willing to learn about and embrace the differences and realities that surround us. It is a reality that the majority of educational leaders are white men. As a white man and a leader in education, I have learned how important it is to engage in conversations about educational equity and to make space for meaningful change within the organizations we lead. In order to support our students and create welcoming environments for our staff, WE have to be willing to enact change. I know our story can help others who aren’t quite sure where to start, feel inadequate or uninformed, and are nervous about the political reactions they may face. I have experienced that uncertainty and think our story is one worth telling. If anything, I hope this article helps you find your purpose and inspires you to start a journey of your own.

The Catalyst

I’ll begin with the catalyst to my equity journey. In 2016, a racist pamphlet was distributed in the high school in

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Leading Educational Equity (cont.)

which I was principal. This single act and the decision of just one student changed my life and the trajectory of my career.

that had been broken. Instead, I realized that this journey is one without a clear endpoint. I discovered that the job of

our classrooms and schools.

Following weeks of brutal attacks on social media, threatening phone calls, personal attacks (even from some state lawmakers threatening to take my job), we were at a critical juncture as a school and district. I began by listening to our students and their families to understand what I didn’t know, how racism in our schools was impacting them and their ability to learn. I learned so much from listening to their stories and realized that the image I held in my head about our wonderful, supportive community wasn’t a reality for all of our students. I knew we needed to act, but without one set path, I struggled to know where to begin. We built additional structures to support our students and made improvements; we responded in the ways we know how, but in the year that followed it was clear there was much more work to be done. In the months following the fallout, I hoped that our students and community would see the steps taken to fix “the problem” and we would rebuild the trust

creating a positive, equitable educational environment for all students will continue for the remainder of my career and long after.


A few years later, when I was hired as superintendent in 2018, I toured the district with our newly appointed high school principal, a young, energetic black leader whose passion was clear. As we toured the building, some of our black students who I had positive relationships with as principal approached us and immediately engaged with him. I saw the excitement in their eyes and body language and, honestly, I felt dejected. After having built my career on creating strong relationships with countless students, I didn’t understand this sudden shift in dynamic. But my disappointment was shortsighted. I missed the message these students were sending: I could never be for them what he immediately represented. It became immediately clear to me why every student should be

It became immediately clear to me why every student should be afforded the chance to see themselves represented in the people who lead

afforded the chance to see themselves represented in the people who lead our classrooms and schools. For reference, our district population is approximately 8,600 students–72% of that population is white. Although less than 6% of the remaining population are black students, this moment represented for me the need to recruit, hire and retain a talented and diverse teaching staff in service of our students. To be effective in this endeavor, I knew we needed to create an overarching equity plan.

Board of Education and Stategic Plan

This work really began in 2019-20 as we built a new comprehensive five year Strategic Plan for the district and conducted an equity audit. Following

solidified the meaning behind our work and carved a path forward. People often ask me what role the Board plays in our equity work. Their approval and support of the plan, as well as commitment to progress monitoring, allow us to keep our goals and the impact of our work in constant focus. Their support is also what has given us room to explore partnerships and learn from other voices in our work.


Our school district is a member of the Digital Promise, League of Innovative Schools. We were selected for membership for educational innovation, however, our focus has shifted to place equity at the center of our work. As a member of the League, I opted to join a

the audit, we gathered students, staff, and community members to engage in discussions about educational equity in our district. Their feedback and collaboration led to the creation of a separate 5 year Equity In Action Plan outlining goals and action steps. Despite the onset of the pandemic, the Board of Education approved our Equity in Action Plan in June 2020. This board action

cohort of superintendents to focus on recruiting and retaining teachers of color. The cohort spent two years discussing the challenges we face in education and emerged with a plan to host a series of design studios to create opportunities for our staff members of color, community partners and administrators to discuss the teacher of color pipeline. In our district, we learned that before focusing

In our district, we learned that before focusing on staff recruitment, we needed to cultivate an environment where existing teachers of color felt heard and valued in our organization at large.

Leading Educational Equity (cont.)

on staff recruitment, we needed to cultivate an environment where existing teachers of color felt heard and valued in our organization at large.

Affinity Groups

Since then, we have hosted a second design studio focused solely on the retention of our teachers of color. Participants expressed their desire to plan and host a multi-cultural festival for staff to better understand one another as colleagues. Additionally, we have established two affinity groups for staff, for both the BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ communities. These groups, which are made up of members of each of these underrepresented groups and allies within the district, are purposefully created to serve as a welcoming environment for educators to share their experiences and brainstorm teachercentered solutions. The groups’ structure also allows a direct line of communication to the superintendent’s Cabinet so that these ideas can impact the district’s trajectory on a larger scale.


This work always ends with our students and their learning. In order to ensure our equity work is touching their lives, two educators at our high school created a concept that I encourage anyone reading to replicate. They created a student focused effort, Recognizing American

Diversity, which we affectionately refer to as RAD. This group celebrates the cultural differences which make up our school district and invites others to join in monthly community celebrations. They also compile a calendar of resources, books, articles and podcasts to learn about diverse groups represented across our community every month. Last year, RAD celebrated LatinX heritage, Native American & Indigenous Peoples, individuals with disabilities, Black History Month, Women’s History Month, LGBTQ+ allyship and Asian American culture. At the start of the 2022-23 school year, the group expanded to our middle schools and a student group was formed to engage student voices across the district. Our community embraces the concept more and more each month.

I was certain that my life’s work was to change the educational system by infusing instructional innovation into an archaic model of teaching. While I have not let that dream go, I am coming to realize that our collective mission is to ensure educational equity for all of our students, regardless of their background. These innovations and instructional improvements mean nothing to our students if we cannot confront the invisible barriers standing in their way. We have the power to make the positive change needed to ensure every child can meet and surpass their educational


potential, to support a diverse teaching staff where our educators feel heard and respected, and to celebrate the differences within our school community. Leading is often about creating the environment for many passionate people

1. In order for me, as the superintendent, to be able to help lead the district equity journey, I had to start with my own personal equity journey and tangle with my internal bias that exists in all of us. I had to participate

to make meaningful change. To my fellow white male superintendents: if you have not yet begun your personal equity journey, please do so. If you have not yet begun to listen to the lived experiences of those under your care, please do so. If you have not yet begun to analyze the needs of your district and your students, please do so. If you feel unqualified, uninformed or overwhelmed, remember this: you don’t know what you don’t know. I encourage you to listen more, ask for help, become a student of the people around you and know that not only can we lead this work, we have an even greater responsibility to be a part of it. By no means is our work complete or do I pretend to have all of the answers. As I reflect on our work thus far a few very important things stand out to me.

alongside our leadership teams in the book talks and seek first to understand, before I could even think about crafting a plan of action forward.

2. I had to walk this journey with a support network. My Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools cohort of Superintendents afforded me the opportunity to talk freely among colleagues outside my district and throw ideas against the wall without judgment. They were the test group to review our teacher of color plans before anyone else could critique them. Perhaps most importantly, one Superintendent in particular, gave me permission to go at the pace my community could support. This simple, yet profound, statement gave me more peace than any other support I have received. Although my community is supportive of educational innovation and

Leading is often about creating the environment for many passionate people to make meaningful change.

therefore change, I do live in a rather conservative area of Illinois and the politics of today are not very forgiving. This permission has allowed me to move slow to go fast. In my opinion, we do not need to beat the drum of equity and potentially turn our communities off to the change that our students so desperately need. We need to bring people into the work and see the value of what we are doing for every student under our care.

3. As a white male Superintendent, I had to talk less and listen more. I am not the expert on the lived experiences of a person in a minority demographic category, therefore, I should not pretend to understand what I have not lived. I said this often early on: “I don’t know what I don’t know.” It is so simple yet so true. Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know, please help me understand.”

During his time in the District, Huntley 158 has grown a national reputation as a leader in transforming public education to best meet the needs of today’s learners. At Huntley High School, he oversaw the growth of the school’s pioneering Blended Learning Program from a small pilot into an integral part of life at HHS, now serving more than two-thirds of the student body. In 2019, HHS was named by as the country’s number one high school for blended learning.

In addition, he has helped oversee one of Illinois’s largest 1:1 learning initiatives, as well as the establishment of Huntley’s Medical, Engineering, Fine Arts, and Global Academies, offering students specialized coursework and community-based learning opportunities in line with their career interests. He also led the development of the school’s Vanguard Vision Competencybased Education program as one of just 10 Illinois school districts selected for the State’s first CBE pilot cohort.

Dr. Scott Rowe is the superintendent of Huntley Community School District 158, a large unit district serving more than 9,000 students PreK-12 from Algonquin, Lake in the Hills, and Huntley. He was named superintendent in 2018 after having served the previous seven years as a middle school and high school principal within the District.

Dr. Rowe holds a bachelor’s degree from Missouri State University and a master’s and doctoral degrees in educational leadership from Aurora University.

Leading Educational Equity

IL ASCD Area Representatives

In 2014 when IL ASCD reorganized our leadership team, the role of Area Representative was created. Our “Area Reps” as we call them are a link to and from the various regions of our state. IL ASCD follows the same areas established by the Regional Offices of Education.

Our Area Reps are led by two members of our IL ASCD Board of Directors, Denise Makowski and Andrew Lobdell.

Denise and Andrew are the Co-Leaders of our Membership and Partnerships Focus Area.

Denise Makowski Chicago


Andrew Lobdell

Principal of the Junior High School in the Lena - Winslow School District # 202


Current Area Reps

AREA 1: (Green)

AREA 2: (Dark Blue)

AREA 3: (Yellow)

AREA 4: (Pink)

AREA 5: (Light Blue)

April Jordan

Jennifer Winters

Chad Dougherty

Heather Bowman

Kelly Glennon

Annette Hartlieb

AREA 6: (Gold) Vacant

Contact information for them can be found HERE.

The roles of the IL ASCD Area Representatives are:

• Encouraging IL ASCD membership to educators in their local areas;

• Assisting with professional development;

• Attend board meetings and the annual leadership retreat, when possible;

• Disseminating information from IL ASCD board meetings or other sanctioned IL ASCD activities to local school districts or other regional members

• Being a two-way communication vehicle between the local IL ASCD members regarding IL ASCD or any educational issues.

• Keeping IL ASCD Board of Directors apprised of pertinent information regarding personnel issues (e.g., job vacancies, job promotions) and district program awards/recognition within the local area.

• Communicating regularly with IL ASCD Executive Director and the Co-Leaders of the Membership and Partnerships Focus Area.

Lisa Dallacqua

Leading in Dual Language is Better Together

Meet East Aurora

When you drive into East Aurora, it feels like someone wrapped you in a sherpa blanket. Homes are placed closely together; the local panaderías open early for fresh conchas, sweet breads and warm empanadas. In December, Christmas lights twinkle down the streets and as the sun rises, about 14,000 students make their way to school. East Aurora is a unique school district. With one of the largest populations of English


one of the largest populations of English

Learners in the state of Illinois, we proudly embrace the diversity of language and culture represented in our community.

Learners in the state of Illinois, we proudly embrace the diversity of language and culture represented in our community. Bilingualism, biliteracy, and biculturalism is a superpower that we wish to instill in every single student who walks through our doors.

With this identity at the forefront of our minds and embedded deeply in our hearts, there was a clear path

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to create the first and only districtwide dual language program in the state. In our school district, all means all. We currently have all kindergarten, first, and second grade students in the district experiencing the benefits of dual language education. Next year, we will add third grade to dual language, for which planning, community engagement, curriculum writing, and professional development has already commenced. This mission has been a journey for our district, and we know our storyline will only continue to grow as each grade level is added, year after year.

Why tell this story? Well, there are many firsts here, and being a “first” often dazzles like the stars on a cold winter’s eve. We have our first female superintendent. Dr. Norrell is also our first African American female superintendent. We are the first district ever in the state of Illinois to implement dual language in every single classroom across our district. This is the first time our district has embraced an additive bilingual model for English learners. This model of language learning raises the status of language so that Spanish and English contend equally with one another and serve as vehicles for transferring language skills. And finally, we could never forget to note that this was our first time rolling out such a grand

initiative during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Leadership Is Packaged in Different Ways



The shift toward deeper forms of connected learning is emerging at every level of our organizations… What is common about these strategies is that they involve the group, have focused goals, develop capacity, seek precision of pedagogical practice, link the work to measurable impacts on student learning, and are well led for these purposes. (p.64)

This is a powerful statement because it focuses our attention towards the importance of the collective leadership that is necessary in facilitating a positive student experience for any instructional initiative. What we have seen in the last three years as we add entire grade levels to our dual language program is that leadership takes shape in different ways and forms. At the birth of our program, the language acquisition department decided to partner with the curriculum department to write units of study. That first summer, our team spent hours reading kindergarten anchor texts, working tirelessly to piece together thematic units that would light a fire for our students. We wanted


our students to cultivate a learning lens for cross-linguistic connections, total physical response (TPR) through American Sign Language, and a love for cultures throughout the world. We were committed to creating excellence, and even though we had to begin our first year of dual language remotely, nothing could deter our team from watching dual language instruction take flight for our students.

Soon after this launch, however, we realized that we needed leadership to extend beyond the fingertips of our team’s passion for dual language. There were instructional practices such as an emphasis on oral language development, total physical response (TPR), and the use of sentence stems that required attention. Dual language practices such as “Preview View Review” and “el dictado” were pieces that we wished had stronger implementation across our elementary buildings. Virtual professional development behind a computer was not enough. Teachers needed modeling of these practices, they needed dual language in action. With fourteen elementary schools in the district, we turned to our instructional coaches, each strategically placed to support teachers and complete instructional coaching cycles to improve teaching and learning.

Why the instructional coaches?

Joellen Killion and Cindy Harrison (2006) argued:

A coach personalizes teachers’ learning by understanding each teacher’s current state of practice and the conditions in which that teacher practices…with expertise in content, pedagogy, and coaching, a coach is able to support teachers in making desired changes in their knowledge, skills, practices, and dispositions and is able to contribute to creating a culture of collaboration and peer support. (p.8)

Instructional feedback felt too evaluative coming from the principals. District office didn’t have the relational trust that is built from day-to-day interactions with colleagues. Instructional coaches were another resource of talent that we could train and support to help strengthen the instructional practices of dual language. With our coaches, we could take on Fullan’s “precision of pedagogical practice” in a methodical way to improve dual language teaching and learning. It started with the elementary language acquisition coordinator jumping into that pool of vulnerability: she walked into a first grade classroom and asked the teacher if she would record her teaching a lesson for oracy development through

Dual Language (cont.)

Students in a 1st grade classroom use total physical response (TPR) to practice the word “casa” in their second language. You can watch the entire video clip here.

TPR. The teacher agreed, and soon one recording became two, two became three, and before we knew it, our team was growing with instructional coaches and classroom teachers who could share expertise on dual language best practices

This year, our language acquisition department decided to shift their entire structure of work so that modeling instructional practices and providing in-building support became standard in our district. Each month, we focus on one dual language practice or strategy that all administrators and coaches “look for” when entering dual language classrooms. This focus affords everyone the opportunity to practice and to find how to provide language opportunities while teaching content area instruction.

As Alexandra Guilamo (2020) stated:

The pedagogical and adaptive implications of learning a language while learning content always impact the learning experience. Coaches [and administrators] who take the time to first understand effective practices and then work to help teachers embrace and implement these practices are better able to leverage powerful opportunities for teachers to embed and seamlessly integrate language and culture with grade-level content. (p. 34-35)

It is a productive struggle, for both adults and children. Together, we grow.


Dual Language (cont.)

Together, we find successes in our everyday work, even if they are small.

You Can’t Drive the Bus Solo

John Hattie (2015) told us, “the greatest influence on student progression

We do this because we know that we can do hard things. The dream to have students emerge as bilingual, biliterate, and bicultural is one that continues to burn brightly throughout East Aurora. It is our superpower, the sherpa blanket,

in learning is having highly expert, inspired and passionate teachers and school leaders working together to maximize the effect of their teaching on all students in their care,” (p.2). If there is any lesson we have learned from implementing district-wide dual language instruction, it is that all stakeholders are in this work together. This program would not be in existence if it were not for the community that we find in our families, our teachers and staff, school leaders, district office, our Superintendent, the Board of Education, and most important of all, our students. Together, we have galvanized the support needed to maintain and to grow our program for the better of our school district. It is hard work, and every day, we embrace our vulnerability in trying something new.

the work that warms us on even the coldest winter nights.


Fullan, M., & Quinn, J. (2016). Coherence: The Right Drivers in Action for Schools, Districts, and Systems. Ontario Principals’ Council.

Guilamo, A. (2020). Coaching Teachers in Bilingual and Dual Language Classrooms: A Responsive Cycle for Observation & Feedback. Solution Tree Press.

Hattie, John. (2015). What works best in education: The politics of collaborative expertise

Killion, J. & Harrison, C. (2006). Taking the lead: New roles for teachers and schoolbased coaches. Oxford, OH: NSDC.

If there is any lesson we have learned from implementing district-wide dual language instruction, it is that all stakeholders are in this work together.

Paler, D.K., Martinez, R.A., Mateus, S.G., & Henderson, K. (2014). Reframing the Debate on Language Separation: Toward a Vision for Translanguaging Pedagogies in the Dual Language Classroom. The Modern Language Journal, 98(3), 757–772. http://www.

Dr. Lisa Dallacqua serves as the Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, Instruction, Assessment, and Grants for East Aurora School District 131. She has been fortunate to work in education for seventeen years as an educator, elementary school principal, curriculum executive director, and assistant superintendent.

Dr. Dallacqua is passionate about dual language, believing in the power of belonging and identity through our language and cultural practices.


Leadership Coaching: Potential, Fulfillment & Success

Leadership Coaching: Maximize Your Potential

What is leadership coaching? It may be easier to frame by saying what coaching is not. It is not counseling or therapy, nor is it mentoring (Bloom, 2005; North Cook Intermediate Service Center/ROE, 2021). Some coaching sessions, however, do feel healing in nature—like a deep breath in and a steady exhale out. Imagine the-best-of-the-best in any field. Who comes to mind? Perhaps an educational leader, a CEO, an artist or musician, a president of a stellar company, or a cutting-edge entrepreneur? Whoever your mind conjured, chances are these illuminatis did not find success on their own, rather, they had a coach. Considering global companies and competitive industries, a “2021 Leadership Coaching survey shows that 72% of organizations offer some type of leadership coaching for talent development” (Sounding Board, 2021). The North Cook Regional Office of Education/North Cook Intermediate Service Center has found a growing number of district and school leaders have also been elevating their

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BACK: Jean Sophie & Kevin Jauch FRONT: April D. Jordan & Amy Stewart

performance, and ability to reflect, through their leadership coaching program.

What Does Leadership Coaching Entail?

A leadership coach is a facilitator of a deep, personal dialog that a coachee/ leader/client engages in. Coaching is very personal. The coaching relationship should be a psychological safe space co-designed by the coach and coachee/ leader. It can amplify a coachee’s goals, aspirations, and values; enhance their interpersonal relationships and skills, strengthen their self-awareness, empower them as leaders, and ultimately elevate their potential.

2021). An effective coach reads their client’s body language, actively listens for the feelings behind the words, hesitancy in cadence and intentionality of word choice. Relying on those and their own intuition, a professional coach will delve below the surface, beyond the words, sometimes asking probing questions and other times letting a pregnant pause marinade until the client experiences that “a ha” moment that bursts the dam and enlightens previous blindspots.

Coaching v. Mentoring v. Therapy

Like all good work, coaching starts with trust and a desire on behalf of the coachee/leader to move towards their

0As coaches, or thought-partners, we enter into this experience with the belief that all leaders are whole, resourceful, and creative. Meaning each has the ability to move themselves towards innovative solutions with the guidance of a skilled coach (Kimsey-House et al., 2011; North Cook Intermediate Service Center/ROE,

desired goals. A coaching relationship calls on a trained or certified coach to first build trust and rapport with their client; time to connect and see the leader as they are and where they want to go. This means also getting to know what the client knows and values. The coaching process focuses on present and future

Leadership coaching has the power to cultivate dynamic thinkers with agency and the ability to transform both personally and professionally (Kimsey-House, H. et al., 2011; North Cook Intermediate Service Center/ROE, 2021).

actions through supportive questions and insights that move the leader to greater awareness. Mentoring differs from the former by concentrating on professional growth, shared expertise, and guidance in the form of answers; i.e This is how I would do it approach. Whereas, counseling or therapy tends to examine past and present issues with a focus on emotional distress or past trauma (Bloom, 2005; Srivastava, 2021).

Imagine the various issues on your plate as a leader… What is taking up most of your energy? Could it be making a smooth transition into a new role? Might it be how to turn up the volume of your

sessions, while at other times it is the focus of a singular session. Whatever is top of heart or top of mind is brought into a coaching session to explore with the coach. Leadership coaching has the power to cultivate dynamic thinkers with agency and the ability to transform both personally and professionally (KimseyHouse, H. et al., 2011; North Cook Intermediate Service Center/ROE, 2021).

As a curious and deliberate listener, a coach deepens the client’s understanding of their own goals, exposes divergent perspectives, and affords the leader the opportunity to unearth new realizations. Sometimes

voice within a group? Maybe strategic planning and deciding on district priorities comes to mind. For some, simply navigating the pressures of the world at large is looming or trying to find peace with work-home-life integration. Coaching encourages the coachee/ leader to focus on a topic (like the ones mentioned here) for each session; a goal that is most important to them. In some cases, the topic is woven into all

like a flare, other times like a smoldering ember, leaders begin to see themselves, others, or a situation differently through this form of self-reflective and revealing questioning. New ideas might be confirmed; yet on other occasions, they are turned inside-out. Essentially, the coach is assisting the leader in moving one step closer to understanding or a solution-based action (Kimsey-House et al., 2011). A resounding anecdote

Leadership Coaching (cont.)
Since most of our waking hours are spent at work, it only makes sense that leaders invest in themselves and their well-being by pairing up with a professional coach.

comes to mind that I once heard from a Master Certified Coach, “If your client is not moved to action after coaching, you merely had an interesting conversation.”

Coaching, Fulfillment & Success

Since most of our waking hours are spent at work, it only makes sense that leaders invest in themselves and their well-being by pairing up with a professional coach. Research has shown that happiness actually breeds success (Achor, 2010; Lyubomirsky et al., 2005, 803-855; Walsh et al., 2018, 199-219). Access to a leadership coach can assist a coachee/ leader in “reframing” (Kimsey-House et al., 2011, p. 109) challenges and shifting perspectives. The ability to see situations from various perspectives allows leaders to be introspective, reflective, and become fully aware of their situations, options, and paths to resilience and resistance. With clarity, comes the confidence to make decisions.

To be a district or school leader requires a commitment not only to students, staff members, parents, and the community at large, but to one’s self. Educational leaders with self-awareness, the ability to work alongside others to turn vision into reality, and harness the momentum of stakeholders towards common goals, end up creating an ecosystem of success. The finest leaders cannot do it alone, however. These interconnected

systems of life that exist for educational leaders– district communities, school communities, school board communities, and neighborhood communities– all thrive or wilt based on the leader’s ability to realize their:

• potential within their ecosystem (selfefficacy)

• awareness of self and others (situationality and positionality)

• strengths and blindspots

• belief they can make changes based on actions (agency)

• ability to reflect on their actions (praxis)

(Jordan, 2015)

Are you ready to take your leadership skills to the next level and/or do you want more clarity about what will bring you that feeling of contentment, wholeness, or accomplishment? Reach for it. Reach for fulfillment and pull it in close to you. Consider leadership coaching and investing in yourself to broaden your impact on others, both professionally and personally, leading to a richly lived life!


Achor, S. (2010). The happiness advantage: The seven principles of positive psychology that fuel success and performance at work. Crown.


Bloom, G. (2005). Blended Coaching: Skills and Strategies to Support Principal Development (C. Castagna, E. Moir, B. Warren, & G. Bloom, Eds.). SAGE Publications.

Jordan, A. D. (2015). The transformative experiences of female educators as a catalyst for social change in the world. National College of Education at National Louis University.

Kimsey-House, H., Kimsey-House, K., Whitworth, L., & Sandahl, P. (2011). Co-active coaching: Changing business, transforming lives. Nicholas Brealey Publishing.

Lyubomirsky, S., Diener, E., & King, L. (2005). The Benefits of Frequent Positive Affect: Does Happiness Lead to Success? American Psychological Association, 131(6), 803-855. 10.1037/0033-2909.131.6.803

North Cook Intermediate Service Center/ ROE. (2021, November 12). Leadership Coaching / Leadership Coaching. North Cook Intermediate Service Center/ROE. Retrieved October 31, 2022, from domain/2085

Oprah Winfrey, Hugh Jackman, And Other Celebrities Recommend Coaching As A Necessity For Success (J. Wilson, Compiler). (2022). Forbes Magazine.

Sounding Board. (2021). Industry Research: Leadership Coaching Report 2021. Sounding Board, Inc. Retrieved November 16, 2022, from https:// wp-content/uploads/2021/09/ Leadership_Coaching_ Report_2021.pdf

Srivastava, Y. (2021, March 25). Coaching, Counseling, and Mentorship: What’s the Difference? BetterUp. Retrieved October 31, 2022, from https://

Walsh, L. C., Boehm, J. K., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2018). Does Happiness Promote Career Success? Revisiting the Evidence. Journal of Career Assessment, Vol. 26(2), 199-219.

April D. Jordan, Ed.D. is the Regional Assistant Superintendent at the North Cook Intermediate Service Center/Regional Office of Education (NCISC) with a focus on professional development and curriculum. She has served in education for over 22 years and has been in leadership at the building and district level. She has been recognized by ASCD as an Emerging Leader in Education. Reminiscent of her years as

Tipping the Scale (cont.)

a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand, April often finds mindful living impacts her coaching with NCISC. She is proud to be a published author and trained leadership coach reminding others to do what they love, and love what they do!

Kevin Jauch, Ed.D. is the Regional Superintendent at the North Cook Intermediate Service Center/Regional Office of Education. Though an avid traveler, he has lived and worked in the North Cook region his entire life. He was recently honored by the North Cook Superintendent Association as their Superintendent of Distinction for the 2021 school year. He, too, serves as a coach with the NCISC and cherishes the opportunity to positively impact the field of education through coaching and mentoring. Kevin is grateful to have such a supportive family and professional community of peers, who have both encouraged him to trust his instincts and pursue his passion.

Jean Sophie, Ed.D. serves as a coach with the North Cook Intermediate Service Center/Regional Office of Education. She was also honored by the Lake County region as their Superintendent of Distinction in 2019. Jean led two school districts as a superintendent and also served as an Assistant Superintendent for Personnel, an elementary principal and a middle school assistant principal. Her passion is teacher evaluation, and in retirement, is

now a state-trained facilitator of evaluator training serving the NCISC region.

Amy Stewart, MIM, CPCC, ACC is an ICF certified, international leadership and wellbeing coach with multiple years of experience coaching individuals across all levels and functions at Fortune 500 and non-profit organizations. She also serves as a coach with the North Cook Intermediate Service Center/Regional Office of Education. Her specialties include leadership development, diversity and inclusion, effective communication, emotional intelligence, conflict resolution, change management, stress management, and resiliency. Amy is passionate about helping her clients focus on what is most important to them, achieve their goals, and bring out their empowered selves


Upcoming Events

Empathic Leadership to Effective Action: How to Use Empathy Interviews to Lead Meaningful Change in a School Community with Mark Janka and Melissa Resh

February 8–March 8 | 4:00pm - 6:00pm

Live Virtual

Gain background knowledge in what empathy interviews are and how they can be leveraged in schools.


Brains & Balance with Lois Moncel

February 21 | 3:00pm -4:00pm

Live Online

We provide you with additional activities that will help improve a student’s attention, focus, and memory while at the same time allowing them to explore physical activities in a fun, social, and nonthreatening environment.


8 Teaching Moves to Transform Your Math Classroom with Janet Moore

February 16 | 9:00am - 3:00pm

ISU Alumni Center Room 118



Set a vision for your mathematics classroom and learn about NCTM’s 8 Math Teaching Practices to help you work toward that vision. Join us as we explore how to: implement problemsolving tasks in a way that sparks and grows student perseverance, deepen student understanding by using pictures and manipulatives, facilitate meaningful mathematical conversations by posing the right questions at the right time, and empower student learners by including them in classroom conversations about math goals and assessments


The Essentials of Student-Centered COACHING with Diane Sweeney


February 23 | 8:30am -3:00pm

Medinah Shrine Banquets or Virtual Student-Centered Coaching is an evidence-based instructional coaching model that shifts the focus from ‘fixing’ teachers to collaborating to meet their goals for student learning.


42nd Annual Pre-K and Kindergarten Conference

March 1–March 3 | 8:30am -3:00pm

Renaissance Hotel, Schaumburg

Statewide conference for PreKindergarten and Kindergarten teachers.


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Classroom Behavior Fixes

March 9–April 6 | 4:00pm -5:30pm

Zoom or On Demand Recordings

Strategies to be taught include teaching and reviewing expectations and routines, precorrection, behavior-specific praise, instructional choice, active supervision, and active student response methods.

districts, and organizations can tap into the latent talent within them, to not only collaborate toward a better future but also support each individual’s well-being.



Student Motivation Summit with Dave Stuart

March 14 | 8:30am -12:00pm

NIU Room 105 or Virtual

Cultivating five key beliefs in the heart of each learner doesn’t mean becoming a miracle worker or a workaholic. Instead, it takes understanding how the beliefs work in the heart of a learner and what evidence-based strategies most efficiently help them to grow.


Authentic Approaches to SchoolBased Change Empowering 8 Archetypes for Driving Change in the Classroom with Ashley Lamb-Sinclair

March 21 | 9:00am -12:00pm

Live Online

By applying 8 change archetypes to our approaches for leading change, schools,

High School MTSS: Realistic Strategies for Real Success Presented by Femi Skanes

April 4 | 9:00am -12:00pm

Zoom or On Demand Recordings

This workshop will help high school MultiTiered Systems of Support teams create an MTSS implementation plan for the classroom, team-level, and school-level structures.


Reading Strategies: Essential Teaching for Every Classroom with Jennifer Serravallo

April 12 | 9:00am - 3:00pm


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You’ll first learn about the broad research base for strategy instruction in reading and what makes an effective reading strategy. Then, you’ll learn about reading goals and skill progressions for each goal which will equip you to target the just-right strategies for each reader. You’ll learn

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Upcoming Events

streamlined ways to evaluate student work to save planning and prep time.


Doable Differentiation with Jane Kise

April 18 | 9:00am - 3:00pm

NIU Naperville or Online

Welcome to a different, brain-based framework for ensuring no students are constantly at a disadvantage, while at the same time providing a common language for peer coaching.


Spring into Classroom Success with Greg’s Best Classroom Hacks with Greg Smedley-Warren

April 21 | 9:00am - 3:00pm

IEA Springfield or Online

Ways to improve small group and classroom management plus new ideas to bring inspiration and excitement into your classroom.


Getting Students Ready for Rigor the Culturally Responsive Way with Zaretta Hammond

April 24 | 8:30am - 2:30pm

NIU Naperville or Online

Using the Ready for Rigor framework as our guide, this day-long session will focus on building teacher capacity to coach students away from dependent learning toward cognitively independent learning.


10 Techniques




Talking with Brandy Hempen & Dee Ann


May 1 | TBD


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Low-prep, high-impact, research-based techniques that will increase student engagement to a whole new level.


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“To build the capacity of educational leaders to enhance the quality of teaching and learning”


President—Belinda Veillon (Nippersink 2 & Richmond Burton CHSD 157)

President-Elect—Scott England (University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES))

Past-President—Akemi Sessler (Arlington Heights SD 25)

Treasurer—Amy Warke (Bowling Brook High School)

Media Director—Debbie Poffinbarger (North Mac CUSD #34)

Secretary—Amy MacCrindle (Huntley 158)


Membership and Partnerships

Denise Makowski (Chicago)

Andrew Lobdell (Lena-Winslow SD 202)

Communications and Publications

Joe Mullikin (Meridian CUSD 223)

Jeff Prickett (McHenry High School District 156)

Advocacy and Influence

Richard Lange (National Louis University)

Brenda Mendoza (West Aurora SD 129)

Program Development

Bev Taylor (Oak Brook)

Terry Mootz (Crystal Lake)

Sarah Cacciatore (Mundelein School District #75)

Dee Ann Schnautz (SIU Carbondale)

Doug Wood (Springfield)


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