Instructional coaches keep curriculum standards in line at Moffat County School District | CraigDailyPress.com

Instructional coaches keep curriculum standards in line at Moffat County School District

Noelle Leavitt Riley

From left, Misty Jones, Sara Linsacum, Kristin Allen, Jennifer Willems, Krista Schenck and Lisa Campbell make up the six instructional coaches at Moffat County School District. Inside this edition of the Craig Daily Press, readers will find the newspaper's special publication called Learning Today... Leading Tomorrow, which highlights various students and programs in Moffat County that work to improve student learning.

The work that Moffat County's six instructional coaches do on a daily basis can be equated to this: Coaching teachers equals better learning for students.

In 2014, Moffat County School DistrictMoffat County School District launched its instructional coach program, where coaches at each school within the district go into classrooms, helping teachers stay on task with Colorado Academic Standards. launched its instructional coach program, where coaches at each school within the district go into classrooms, helping teachers stay on task with Colorado Academic Standards.

Moffat County School District launched its instructional coach program, where coaches at each school within the district go into classrooms, helping teachers stay on task with Colorado Academic Standards.

"We sit side by side with each teacher and we set the state standard," said Sara Linsacum, who works as coach at Ridgeview Elementary School.

The goal is to train teachers how to better teach a curriculum that helps students grow and learn.

"A lot of teachers felt like they didn't have enough training," said Jennifer Willems, the coach at Sandrock Elementary.

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MCSD Director of Curriculum and Assessment Amy Ward leads the team of coaches, helping them develop plans for each school.

"It's all about supporting teachers through coaching and professional development," Ward said.

Areas of focus include curriculum, technology, gifted and talented and ELL — English Language Learning.

"We realized we were not meeting all the needs of the English Language Learners in the district," said Misty Jones, the instructional coach at Sunset Elementary. "We're able to work with teachers to help them plan their lessons."

It allows training to come straight to teachers' classrooms rather than sending teachers to costly conferences, said Zack Allen, director of educator effectiveness.

"We designed a plan to align the best (academic) practices district wide," Ward said.

The coaches meet with Ward and Zack Allen, director of educator effectiveness, each Thursday to refine, define and improve what they take to each school.

"This (coaching) would've fallen to the principals to implement," Zack Allen said, noting how difficult it is for principals to do such training due their administrative workloads. "It's a big benefit."

The coaches work also with the principals, outlining what they're taking into the classrooms, which helps keep the teachers, principals and students on the same page.

"Our principals take an active role in the process," Linsacum said.

The instructional coaching team has done so well in MCSD, other districts, including Norwood and Durango, are starting to take note and looking at Moffat County's model, Ward said.

"They want to look at the co-planning process," she said.

All of Moffat County coaches are former teachers themselves, so they certainly understand how the classroom works.

"If I were to return to the classroom tomorrow (as a teacher), I would be a much more effective teacher," said Kristin Allen, instructor for East Elementary.

What's cool, the coaches said, is that teachers seem to enjoy the mentoring.

"The teachers that are buying into the process, you can see their instruction is getting better," Willems said.

The effect it's had on students is equally impressive, Jones added.

"It makes the kids want to learn. It helps them understand what they need to achieve," she said.

Contact Noelle Leavitt Riley at 970-875-1790 or Contact Noelle Leavitt Riley at 970-875-1790 or nriley@CraigDailyPress.com or follow her on Twitter @noelleleavitt.Contact Noelle Leavitt Riley at 970-875-1790 or nriley@CraigDailyPress.com or follow her on Twitter @noelleleavitt.