Kyrene math and literacy coaches complement teachers - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Community Focus

Kyrene math and literacy coaches complement teachers

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Posted: Saturday, March 10, 2012 7:00 am

The Kyrene School District is faced with the challenge of tightening a support program that increases student success but also provides continuous, on-the-job training for teachers.

At the Feb. 28 governing board meeting, members heard from a task force put together to analyze the jobs of the 17 math and literacy coaches that are active in the district. These positions provide direct support to classroom teachers in a variety of ways. They help with planning, modeling, and co-teaching for elementary school classrooms.

“The majority of my time is spent working side-by-side with a teacher,” said Jodi Pfeffer, math coach at Kyrene de la Paloma Elementary School in Chandler. “We work with the teachers’ and students’ specific needs and adapt instruction to improve the time in the classroom.”

Of the 17 coaches in the district, the majority split their full-time position between two schools. The models proposed by the task force showed three different options that could save the district about $350,000.

The first proposed model would be a team-based approach where teams of two math coaches and two literacy coaches would rotate between different regions of the district (each region has six or seven schools.)

The second was a needs based model that housed all coaches at a single location and would require schools to specific action plans, based on student data, to determine when and for how long they would need coaches to be at the school.

The third was a regional model that assigned one math and one literacy coach to each region of the district, which would allow them to spend one continuous week at a time with each school. Pfeffer said this option could provide closure because they would be able to plan for a full week and watch and see if that plan came to fruition.

“You would be able to strategize before the week and see if at the end, whether or not what we did worked and determine if and how it could be improved,” she said.

District administrators will analyze feedback they received at the governing board meeting and most likely present their findings and offer recommendation at a future board meeting. Pfeffer, who is on the task force, said they will likely take the best of each of the models in determining a recommendation.

Math and literacy coaches are essentially there to support teachers and analyze their instruction methods as well as the work of the students. Pfeffer said that she, like the other math coaches, can analyze the body of the work for a classroom and determine how to improve upon their individual learning.

“The teachers know you are there to support them,” she said. “They offer you a level of trust to help with their instruction.”

With a change likely coming for the 2012-13 school year, Pfeffer is optimistic that while the program will be run differently, they will still be able to have a positive impact on student learning.

“I do not think this change will have a negative impact on our progress in student achievement as a district,” she said. “I think we can still make a difference.”

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or troemhild@ahwatukee.com

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