Workshops, Mentoring, and a Supportive Community

Professional Learning

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Members-Only Think Tank

Our Think Tanks are the heartbeat of our network. We fill both your head and your heart while you work and collaborate with others in similar positions. Develop skills and confidence in working with adult colleagues, as well as stay informed with the latest from the IDOE and national conversations. Build strong professional friendships and always leave inspired and informed to do your work with joy and intention.

We share hosting, so meetings are in different locations. There are regional locations and dates for each meeting for convenience.

Primary audience: Instructional influencers—those who are often in a solitary position, but have influence over instruction and school culture.

Coach-to-Coach Cams-On Zoom Meeting

You won’t want to miss being a part of a supportive and inspiring network just for instructional coaches. Meet once a month to keep your professional goals fresh and stay accountable for your next steps as a coach.

  • Build confidence in being a positive change agent in your school.
  • Refine your skills for working with adults
  • Make connections with other coaches in Indiana

Instructional Influencers

Brian Sepe believes everyone deserves a thought partner, especially teachers. When an instructional influencer becomes an effective thought partner, teacher voices are amplified, decision-making is empowered, and teacher agency skyrockets. Brian will lead participants in developing a strategy for making a positive difference all year long. From goal setting to reflection routines, conversational stems, feedback loops, and intentional mindsets, Brian will develop the skills and confidence instructional influencers need to become the kind of thought partner who will increase teacher efficacy, and uplift student success.

Primary Audience: Instructional influencers, principals, assistant principals, curriculum directors, department heads, teacher leaders

September 7, 2023 | 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM | Wawasee High School | Syracuse, IN

You’re the coach, now what? In this introduction to instructional coaching, you will develop the mindset and skills to empower adult learners. The focus is on practical and effective factors that will allow you to uplift teacher agency. No matter the goals of your school, we’ll help you get organized, prepared, and confident to work alongside of colleagues. You will have the opportunity to participate in live observations of a coach-in-action with guided reflections and personalized feedback.

The academy is led by Ruth Ayres, a long-time instructional coach, three-time author, and national speaker. 

Primary Audiences: New instructional coaches

You’ve likely heard that feedback is the breakfast of champions, a quote attributed to Ken Blanchard, but it seems that effective feedback is more nuanced than simply offering it. The 2023-2024 Instructional Influencers Academy is guided by five instructional coaches from across the country. We will dig deep into discovering ways to offer feedback to transform ho-hum, difficult, or tense professional conversations into joyful, meaningful, and transformative interactions.

Meet two times during the school year to stay sharp with your mindset and skills to inspire and empower adult learners. Participate in live observations of a coach-in-action with guided reflections and personalized feedback.

The academy is led by Ruth Ayres, a long-time instructional coach, three-time author, and national speaker. Special presentations by Stephanie Affinito, David Pittman, and Hannah Tills and Josie Stewart will help build our repertoire on meaningful, intentional, and practical ways to deliver feedback. 

Primary Audiences: Instructional Influencers, principals, assistant principals, curriculum directors

Getting Organized for Literacy Coaching
Ruth Ayres

Experienced literacy coaches unzip their bags and totes to share what they carry into classrooms. We open up our coaching notebooks to show you the pages and lessons we can’t live without. We share what hasn’t worked int he past, and how our schedules and plans have evolved over time. You’ll finish this study group with sample calendars, templates, checklists, and insider tips for launching your coaching year with confidence and enthusiasm. This a self-paced study group with four videos by Ruth Ayres and many additional resources.
Primary Audience: Instructional coaches
Registration will open May 15, 2023

Resources to Facilitate a book club for Shifting the Balance: 6 Ways to Bring the Science of Reading into the Balanced Literacy Classroom by Jan Burkina and Kari Yates

All of the resources you need to lead a book study in your school are included in this virtual study group. Additional guided reflection resources are provided for those reading alone.

Primary Audience: Book club facilitators
Registration will open May 15, 2023

Resources to Facilitate a Book Club for Why Do I Have to Read This? by Cris Tovani

Are you looking for a way to nurture conversations about reading between departments in your middle or high school? The Lead Learners recommends Why Do I Have to Read This? by Cris Tovani. This is a digital resource that includes a book club plan, information about facilitating a book club in your school, and resources to support reflective practice for those reading in a group or alone.

Primary Audience: Book club facilitators
Registration will open May 15, 2023

Grades K-5
Professional Learning

Are you feeling frustrated by a commitment to small group instruction, but the data is not showing substantial growth in your readers? Join three national presenters as we dive into the nitty-gritty of small group instruction and responding to students’ needs. This workshop is designed for those who have a strong understanding of small group instruction and a commitment to regular and meaningful small group instruction. This workshop will help participants learn to tackle the unique needs of some students. 

September 19, 2023 | 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM | Location TBD
September 27, 2023 |9:00 AM – 3:00 PM (Central Time) | Region 6 ESC

Spend the day with Ruth Metcalfe, a first grade teacher, and learn the specifics to making small group instruction gel. It takes more than a checklist, it is about noticing students needs, intentionally developing the next teaching points, and then offering feedback in ways that are accepted and applied by young students. See first-grade small group in action. 

October 23, 2023 | 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM |Mentone Elementary School | Mentone, IN

Did teaching writers used to be your superpower, but now it feels like you’ve lost your magic? Are you out of ideas for how to inspire students to write? Have you turned to canned resources in a desperate attempt to get students to write, but it still isn’t working? Teaching post-pandemic writers is a new game. Learn how to nourish writers by offering both choice and structure. Understand why writing is challenging for kids of hardship, and learn specific and practical ways to motivate students to write. 

April 30, 2024 (T) | 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM | Location TBD

Are you exhausted trying to figure out how to bridge your core literacy program and Science of Reading information? You don’t have to figure it out alone! Join The Lead Learners for a day filled with the best aspects of professional learning designed to inspire and lead participants in determining the next steps for literacy instruction at their schools. 

June 8, 2023|9:00 AM – 3:00 PM | Region 7 ESC

  • Bridging Sold a Story podcast and Core Beliefs about Teaching Readers—Mary Brower, Instructional Coach
  • Bridging Practices Between Workshop Instruction and Science of Reading Information—Bitsy Parks, First-Grade Teacher
  • Bridging the Instructional Needs of Multilingual Learners—Stella Villalba, District English Learner Teacher Leader
  • Five Things School Leaders Should Understand to Bridge Literacy Practices—Jen Schwanke, Deputy Superintendent and Three-Time Author

Grades 6-12
Professional Learning

Our local workshops are led by area educators and include live student observations. When we see concepts in action with students, it is easier to envision how to use the same strategies in our own work. 

Still Growing as Writers: Consistently Becoming More Standard and Sophisticated
Ruth Ayres

Writing is power, and too often students stop growing as writers in middle and high school. That stops today! Join five national presenters as we offer practical ways to ensure all students continue to grow as writers. The conversations will include lifting the level of grammar and conventions, structure, voice, and details in both narrative and non-narrative writing.

January 18, 2024 (Th) | 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM | Location TBD

Developing a Scholarly Voice in Content-Area Writers
Ruth Ayres and Paula Fiscus

What happens if middle and high school students don’t develop a scholarly voice? How will they be taken seriously in the world? How will they be prepared for postsecondary communication? Too often students graduate without sharpening their scholarly writing skills, which puts them at a disadvantage in the world. Learn intentional and practical ways to support students in becoming sophisticated and standard communicators in any content-area. You don’t have to be an English teacher to help students build skills and confidence as writers…students need all of their teachers working together so they can become stronger communicators.

November 29, 2023 (W) | 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM | Location TBD

Let’s face it: there are very few places to find authentic information for teaching middle school readers and writers. We’ve gathered presenters from across the United States who carry full-time contracts with schools. They show up day after day to engage their students as readers and writers. Some days it is brilliant; some days leave a bit to be desired. This is the reality of working with teen readers and writers.

You’re not going to find gimmicks, and you are definitely not going to get packets with empty promises for engaging students. Instead, you’ll find practical ideas for procedures and routines so that you can start strong as a middle school language arts teacher. We’ll help you think through how to use the ideas with your own students, and you’ll see a live demonstration.

Day 1: September 1, 2023 (F) | 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM |Tippy Valley Middle School 

Day 2: October 4, 2023 (W) | 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM | Tippy Valley Middle School

Dates at a Glance

August 2023

  • 8.14 Coach-to-Coach Cams-On Zoom Meeting

January 2024

  • 1.10 Instructional Influencer Academy (Day 1 of 2)
  • 1.16 Think Tank | Wawasee (TBD)
  • 1.18 Still Growing as Writers
  • 1.24 Think Tank | TBD
  • 1.30 Coach-to-Coach Cams-On Zoom Meeting

September 2023

  • 9.1 Starting Strong (Day 1 of 2)
  • 9.7 Fall Kick Off! Get Ready to Make a Positive Difference
  • 9.12 Coach-to-Coach Cams-On Zoom Meeting
  • 9.14: Think Tank at Wawasee
  • 9.19 Making Sure Kids Grow in Small Group Instruction | Region 8 ESC
  • 9.20 Think Tank
  • 9.27 Making Sure Kids Grow in Small Group Instruction | Region 6 ESC

February 2024

  • 2.1 Instructional Influencers Academy (Day 2 of 2)
  • 2.22 Coach-to-Coach Cams-On Zoom Meeting

October 2023

  • 10.4 Starting Strong (Day 2 of 2)
  • 10.9 Think Tank | Location TBD
  • 10.10 Think Tank | Caston
  • 10.18 New Coach Academy (Day 1 of 4)
  • 10.19 Coach-to-Coach Cams-On Zoom Meeting
  • 10.23 First-Grade Small Group in Action

March 2024

  • 3.7 New Coach Academy (Day 4 of 4)
  • 3.12 Think Tank | TBD
  • 3.21 Think Tank | Wawasee (TBD)
  • 3.20 Coach-to-Coach Cams-On Zoom Meeting

November 2023

  • 11.6 New Coach Academy (Day 2 of 4)
  • 11.7 Think Tank | Location TBD
  • 11.9 Think Tank | Tippy Valley
  • 11.16 – 11.19 NCTE in Columbus, OH
  • 11.21 Coach-to-Coach Cams-On Zoom Meeting
  • 11.27 Developing a Scholarly Voice in Content-Area Writers

April 2024

  • 4.18 Coach-to-Coach Cams-On Zoom Meeting
  • 4.30 Nourishing Writers

December 2023

  • 12.5 New Coach Academy (Day 3 of 4)
  • 12.14 Coach-to-Coach Cams-On Zoom Meeting

May 2024

  • 5.6 Think Tank | TBD
  • 5.7 Think Tank | Wawasee (TBD)
  • Coach-to-Coach Cams-On Zoom Meeting
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