How ‘tugboat coaching’ propels one district forward

By Joellen Killion, Jeanne Spiller and Brenda Kaylor
April 2022
The instructional coaches in Kildeer Countryside School District 96 (KCSD 96), outside Chicago, are like tugboats, a key part of a maritime navigation system. Just as tugboats nudge and guide barges and ships that need steering assistance to navigate tricky waters, the coaches nudge and guide educators to navigate toward school and student learning goals. Just as tugboats read and respond to currents, weather, and load, the coaches read and respond to students’ and schools’ needs and progress. And as tugboats coordinate with other tugboats to reach the same destination, the coaches collaborate with one another within and across schools and with other parts of the guidance system (district and school improvement plans, student data systems, curriculum, human resources, professional learning, and leadership), to maintain

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Joellen Killion is a senior advisor to Learning Forward and previously served as the organization’s deputy executive director. Killion has over 30 years of experience in planning, design, implementation, and evaluation of professional learning at the school, system, and state/provincial levels.

Jeanne Spiller is assistant superintendent of Kildeer Countryside School District 96 in Buffalo Grove, Illinois.

Brenda Kaylor is senior consultant with Just ASK Publications and Professional Development.

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