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Instructors are about to get a boost in the classroom as more schools transition to a new model of teaching. Several schools around the state have already started experimenting with programs that promote teacher collaboration. Legislation passed last year will help more schools do the same.

Things are changing in the classroom, from the iPads students use to do their work to the way teachers teach. Johnston High School Biology and Chemistry Teacher Brad Hurst says, “Typically your model of the past, teachers would be working a lot in isolation. This teacher had a great idea, this teacher had a great idea, but they weren’t talking to each other.”

Hurst helped work on a plan to bring a teaching leadership system to the district next year. Johnston Associate Superintendent Dr. Bruce Amendt says, “The instructional coaches are full-time instructional coaches. The lead teachers will teach 75 percent of the day and be released 25 percent of the day. The model teachers will teach all day long.”

The goal is for instructors to get and give feedback and grow professionally. Hurst says, “We never really get a chance to see how people teach, especially across departments, and so this is going to kind of allow teachers to see this and be a part of coaching conversations, so you can kind of get feedback from people you don’t always work with every day.”

Johnston is one of 39 districts the state selected for the first round of money from the 2013 Education Reform Package. Schools will get about $300 per student to implement their plans this fall. Department of Education Director Brad Buck says, “We know there are models underway in Iowa where this has been effective. One of the reasons I’m most excited is we as a state have committed resources to making sure over the next three years, this will be available to all Iowa school districts that choose to participate.”

Buck says teaching leadership systems improve student test scores and help retain high quality teachers. For Hurst, it’s an investment in his students’ education. He says, “This model has the potential to kind of increase classroom instruction and improve that, which should also ultimately help student learning.”

This first round of grant money affects about a third of Iowa students. The 39 schools to implement teaching leadership systems this coming fall include Earlham, Marshalltown, North Polk, Norwalk, Pella, Roland-Story, Saydel, Southeast Polk, Van Meter, West Des Moines and Winterset.

This is a full list from a news release:

Benton, Bettendorf, Burlington, Cedar Rapids, Colo-NESCO, Council Bluffs, Davenport, Delwood, Dubuque, Earlham, East Marshall, East Union, Gilbert, Greene County, Hudson, Humboldt (in collaboration with Twin Rivers), Johnston, Le Mars, Linn-Mar, Marshalltown, Mount Pleasant, Muscatine, North Polk, Norwalk, Oelwein, Ottumwa, Panorama, Pella, Rock Valley, Roland-Story, Saydel, Sioux City, Southeast Polk, Twin Rivers (in collaboration with Humboldt), Van Meter, Waterloo, West Des Moines, Western Dubuque, Winterset