Governor talks TLC with MFL MarMac staff

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Gov. Terry Branstad, pictured with MFL MarMac Superintendent Dale Crozier, stopped at MFL MarMac April 27 to visit with staff from both MFL MarMac and Eastern Allamakee about their experiences with the Teacher Leadership and Compensation (TLC) Program. (Photos by Audrey Posten)

Gov. Terry Branstad listens as MFL MarMac instructional coach Melissa Haberichter talks about the district’s experience with the Teacher Leadership Compensation (TLC) Program.

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

Gov. Terry Branstad stopped at MFL MarMac April 27 to visit with staff from both MFL MarMac and Eastern Allamakee about their experiences with the Teacher Leadership and Compensation (TLC) Program.

This year, both districts implemented the state program, which works to attract the best possible teachers, to retain both newly-hired and veteran teachers, to promote extensive collaboration among teachers, to reward professional growth and effective teaching, and to improve overall student achievement.

“You are some of the early districts who got the grant,” Branstad told those gathered in the high school media center, noting that, by next year, all of the school districts in Iowa will have implemented TLC.

Staff have certain roles within MFL MarMac’s use of the program, either as career teachers, model teachers, mentor teachers, instructional coaches or administrators. 

“We consider everyone to be part of TLC and encourage everyone to work together,” said Melissa Haberichter, one of MFL MarMac’s four instructional coaches.

Career teachers plan, prepare and teach lessons; guide and build relationships with students; monitor instruction and assess student work; and take part in meetings, professional development and other opportunities for growth.

According to the TLC page on the MFL MarMac website, model teachers demonstrate best practices and instructional strategies to district leaders. They also conference with classroom teachers and participate in a model teacher collaboration team to develop expertise.

Mentor teachers support new teachers and serve as a resource for career teachers in the district. They also collaborate with mentor teachers to develop expertise and delivery of specific content areas of the Iowa Core.

Instructional coaches facilitate reflection on classroom practices; assist in goal setting, planning, preparing and delivering instruction; assist with alignment to the Common Core curriculum; collaborate with staff to analyze student data and select instructional strategies; plan, assist and deliver professional development; and research educational strategies, initiatives and effectiveness in schools.

Administrators monitor the program, meet with participants and discuss and encourage coaching opportunities.

Heidi Meyer, another instructional coach, said, through TLC, staff have had the opportunity to increase training and collaboration. Teachers have also gotten to give more input on professional development. TLC has increased awareness and respect for what’s occurring in the district’s three buildings, as well, added Meyer.

“They’re very enthusiastic and passionate and are establishing great relationships in the school,” said elementary principal Kathy Koether of the instructional coaches. “They extend expertise at all levels.”

Instructional coach Brent Pape admitted implementing the program was scary at first.

“Right away, there was a reluctance because we didn’t know how it was going to go, but everyone jumped onboard,” he said.

Pape also stressed that the main goal of the TLC program is student achievement.

“It’s not a teacher-fixer program,” he noted. “The instructional coaches are a support system. We dig deep to get the most out of student achievement.”

“We’ve tried to make the focus student data,” added Liz Hammerly, another instructional coach.

“It’s really important that it’s not judgmental, but empowering,” Branstad responded.

Moving forward, said Pape, they’ll work to sustain, grow and evolve the TLC program. That will include increasing training, promoting the program more, incorporating personalized professional development and filling open roles, Hammerly stated.

“You all should be proud of what you’ve been able to accomplish. I hope the experience you’ve had can be helpful to others taking it on,” Branstad said. “This is a very important program, the most extensive teacher leadership program in the nation. We’re better supporting the challenging work teachers have to do.”

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