Getting Where We Need to Go: Instructional Teams of Support

Getting Where We Need to Go: Instructional Teams of Support
Posted on 05/09/2022
This is the image for the news article titled Getting Where We Need to Go: Instructional Teams of SupportThrough the school year, ESD 123 content specialists have worked with school district administrators and staff to provide guidance and resources specific to the districts’ instructional needs and priorities based on districts’ answers to three questions: Where are we now? Where do we need to go? How do we get there?

For districts looking to select or implement new curriculum or improve instruction practices, the ESD 123 Teaching and Learning department is available to help at any step, from helping administrators evaluate current programs (where are we now?) to identifying instructional wants and needs (where do we need to go?) to providing a network of expertise and resources to meet those needs (how do we get there?).

“The districts we serve know their students well,” says Mike Esping, ESD 123 Regional Math Coordinator. “We at the ESD just help provide the resources and best practice references for teaching to enhance instructional practice.”

Last spring, Lorianne Donovan, Regional Science Coordinator and SE LASER Alliance Director, worked with approximately 50 teachers across the four elementary schools in Clarkston School District, digging into quality science instruction and the shifts with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). This began with a request for assistance choosing a new elementary science curriculum, but after working with Clarkston’s Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning, Troy Whittle, they determined the first step was to prepare teachers to be critical consumers of current science curricula.

Ms. Donovan provided professional development to familiarize teachers with the standards, getting them in the mindset of one of the biggest shifts in the NGSS which prioritizes students figuring out science concepts over learning about science. With that preparation, the school district has been piloting several new elementary science curricula this year.

“The really powerful thing was that their administration was very forward thinking and brought their staff along with them,” says Ms. Donovan. “They came with one ask and were really willing to think differently about how they wanted to handle being supportive of the teachers and what they needed.”

In Columbia and Finley School Districts, Mike Esping helped district and school teams walk through the process of evaluating their existing math programs and finding available resources to meet their specific needs. With additional support from regional math coordinators from around the state, this team of support has helped the districts as they develop more robust math programs.

At Columbia School District, after review of their math program and selection of curriculum resources, the ESD’s role was to support implementation of the newly adopted middle and high school curriculum through coordinating learning walks and conversations with other teachers from Richland and Walla Walla who were familiar with their curriculum. Mr. Esping also partnered with Jeff Crawford, Illustrative Math Trainer and Secondary Math Coordinator from ESD 101 in Spokane, to work regularly with the high school math teachers on unit overviews, learning walks, and more.

Finley Elementary School also utilized the team of support in math by working with Mr. Esping and Becky Neher, ESD 123 Math and Science Coordinator. While there wasn’t a need for a new elementary math curriculum, as a member of the ESD 123 Migrant Consortium, there was an opportunity to better engage migrant students whose education has been interrupted due to their family moving for temporary or seasonal work, and as a result better engage ALL students. Mr. Esping and Ms. Neher, with her experience teaching Finley Elementary’s adopted curriculum and perspective on migrant education, have been working with Principal Pam Kinne to provide learning experiences to deepen teacher understanding of effective math practices through observational feedback and professional learning.

Beyond the elementary school, Finley Middle and High Schools also identified a need for support implementing a new math curriculum. As in Columbia School District, Mr. Esping connected teachers to experts to model the curriculum, including Andy Boyd, Regional Math Coordinator from NCESD 171 in Wenatchee, and observed classrooms to provide feedback.

Ashley Johnson, 7th grade math teacher at Finley Middle School, says she appreciates the opportunity to get a different outlook from Mr. Esping and learn new strategies to help students learn. In particular, she says she has been able to implement a richer math vocabulary both for herself and her students. She looks forward to continuing to implement the new curriculum and seeing how her classroom will change over the next five years.

“I am proud of how my students are growing through their iReady diagnostic scores,” says Ms. Johnson. “I can’t wait to see their spring scores.”

Learn more about ESD 123 Content Coordinators at or by contacting Teri Kessie, Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning, at
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