Meet the CR instructional coaches

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Clayton Ridge instructional coaches from left are, Nicole DeGidio, Tierney Hoefer and Laurie Smith; back row, Janna Kregel, Adam Radcliffe and Sarah Cherne. (Press photo by Caroline Rosacker)

By Caroline Rosacker

An Iowa Teacher Leadership Compensation Grant has provided funding for schools across the state to add instructional coaching positions to their staff. 

The Teacher Leadership and Compensation (TLC) System rewards effective teachers with leadership opportunities and fosters greater collaboration for all teachers to learn from one another.

The Clayton Ridge School District has participated in the TLC Grant since its inception in 2014.

"Instructional coaches work with teachers to implement engaging and high quality lessons and teaching strategies in order to engage students and impact their learning and achievement," says instructional coach Nicole DeGidio. 

Although a teacher technically does not need additional education to become an instructional coach, once they leave the classroom there are many training opportunities in various capacities that are available. "Clayton Ridge's coaches have received training from Jim Knight and Diane Sweeney, both instructional coach gurus, and Fierce Conversation training, based on the book, and other specialized training," DeGidio pointed out. 

Instructional coaches typically have general areas of expertise and are more versed in those fields. "Some coaches do earn a Master's degree in Educational Leadership or another related field, though this isn't a requirement," she explained. 

At Clayton Ridge a teacher interested in becoming a coach must formally apply and interview with the school's TLC Committee. 

Clayton Ridge instructional coaches:

• Develop and deliver professional development training 

• Provide an extra set of eyes or ears in classroom

• Help implement district testing and state testing

• Co-plan and co-teach with other teachers

• Do research on best practices and provide resources for teachers

• Fill-in for a teacher to observe another teacher, or in emergencies as a substitute

• Work with the administration in implementing district initiatives and help teachers implement ideas

"Our instructional coaches wear a multitude of 'hats' depending on the day, the need, and the time of year," commented DeGidio. "Coaches also work to help teachers incorporate more technology and to help improve the quality of our school for students and staff."

Clayton Ridge elementary has one full-time instructional coach, who doesn't have her own classroom, and a half-time technology coach/halftime librarian. 

The middle school and high school have one full-time coach, one half-time coach who teaches the remainder of the day, and one coach who splits their time between instructional coaching, technology and teaching. At the district-level, a special education coach serves both campuses and all grade levels. 

For additional information on the state-wide TLC Grant program online at

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