Greenwood educators partnered recently with professional student coaching consultant Diane Sweeney, the Arkansas Educational Television Network and the Western Arkansas Education Service Cooperative to create a teacher development course on student coaching.

The course will be available around the first of the year, and will be accessible online for all Arkansas educators at ArkansasIDEAS — Internet Delivered Education for Arkansas Schools, Christy Hesslen, the Greenwood School District’s eighth- through 12th grade literacy facilitator, told the school board Thursday.

According to AETN, the state legislature established a partnership between AETN and the Arkansas Department of Education with the passage of ACT 2318 of 2o05. Teachers are required to get 60 hours of professional development training annually, and ArkansasIDEAS provides an supplemental online development resource for teachers.

Hesslen said teachers participating in the student-centered coaching program will receive three hours professional development credit for each course they take, up to nine hours total.

The student-centered coaching program moves the focus to each student’s growth, she said. The program aligns with the new Common Core standards and the state’s new teacher evaluation standards, Hesslen said.

Hesslen said a student-centered coach is an instructional coach who works with individual or teams of teachers; directly impacts student achievement; creates standards-based student outcomes with teachers and analyzes student work with teachers to determine what each student’s next instructional step should be.

Greenwood teachers and para-professionals piloted the student-centered coaching program in a Sept. 10-12 workshop with the eighth-grade English and Westwood fourth-grade math classes.

"They learned cooperation and collaboration by doing this. They learned to target what they wanted to key in on to focus on student growth," said Mary McAfee, the kindergarten- through fifth-grade math facilitator at Westwood Elementary.

The work is a difficult, trust-building process that also creates vulnerability for the teachers, and it requires teamwork, McAfee said.

Hesslen said it is also rewarding, impacting and innovative. The goal, she said, is to ensure students are college-and career-ready when they graduate from high school.