NC NTSP Connect: September 2015 Newsletter

The NC New Teacher Support Program

The success of our program is built on our research-based design, strong partnerships with the schools, districts, and universities engaged in the program, and the strength of the professionals who deliver our services. We are truly grateful for the trust you have placed in our program and the opportunity to support your students and teacher in the year ahead.

We look forward to hosting your first-year teachers at our Institutes in Raleigh or Hickory in October. NC NTSP Institutes target the knowledge and skills most needed by first-year teachers. Throughout the fall semester our team will provide individualized coaching and professional development to build on the knowledge and skills gained during the Institute.

As always, please be in touch if you have suggestions or questions regarding your participation in the NC NTSP.

All the best,

Elizabeth Cunningham

2015-2016 NC NTSP Partnerships

Over the summer, the NC NTSP was fortunate to partner with the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation Internship Program, as well as the Leadership for Educational Equity Fellowship Program to support young education professions and the development of the NC NTSP. Aliyah Bryant, a Junior Elementary and Special Education major at UNCG, and Adelia Odom, a fifth year teacher at Cochrane Collegiate Academy in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, worked with the NC NTSP for eight-weeks this summer. Ms. Bryant and Ms. Odom provided a fresh perspective and worked diligently on several projects throughout their time with the NC NTSP.

Two statewide programs have also partnered with the NC NTSP in order to build stronger schools and teachers: the North Carolina Innovative Statewide Program to Improve the Recruitment of Educators (NC INSPIRE) and Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP). The NC INSPIRE Fellows Program recruits mid-career professionals and recent college graduates, who did not major in education, to teach high-need subject areas in high-need schools for a period of at least three years. GEAR UP is a national college access initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Education and administered statewide by The University of North Carolina General Administration.

The NC INSPIRE Fellows program was developed by the UNC General Administration and is funded by a US Department of Education Transition-to-Teaching grant. Fellows begin as Lateral Entry teachers and complete their North Carolina teacher licensure requirements through a Master of Arts in Teaching degree. NC INSPIRE provides professional development and instructional coaching support for its Fellows through its partnership with the NC New Teacher Support Program.

GEAR UP NC is currently operating in 11 LEAs across North Carolina serving 43 middle and high schools and over 22,000 students from 2012-2019. The grant serves students and families as a cohort beginning in 7th grade through the first year of postsecondary education. The grant is entering the fourth year of implementation. The first cohort of students entered the 10th grade this fall.

The grant has three objectives to significantly increase the number of students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education. The objectives are to: 1. Increase academic performance and preparation for postsecondary education for GEAR UP students. 2. Increase the rate of high school graduation and participation in postsecondary education for GEAR UP students. 3. Increase GEAR UP students’ and families’ knowledge of postsecondary options, preparation requirements, and financing.


NC NTSP Professional Development: Wilson County Beginning Teacher Orientation

On Monday, August 10, 2015, Instructional Coaches from the UNC Region of the NC NTSP provided Beginning Teacher Orientation for Wilson County’s first-year teachers. The session focused on beginning teachers’ planning for their first days of school. Instructional Coaches Bradley Sasser and Kathy Fields began by asking teachers to define positive climate and then guided teachers in design policies and procedures to support positive climate in their classrooms.

The guiding principles for establishing these policies and procedures were positive affect, positive two-way communication, and respect. Some of the primary session outcomes established were for teachers to be cognizant of some of the pitfalls that befall new teachers and how to avoid them and to be more confident in their ability to use positive climate to create the culture and climate that they envision for their classroom.

With their new knowledge in hand, teachers were excited for the opportunity to break into small groups to discuss, plan, and share with their Instructional Coaches. Tracey Leon, Organizational Development Coordinator for Wilson County Schools, shared her excitement as well: “We are so excited about the service NC NTSP provides for our teachers and we look forward to them expanding their services even more this year. They are truly valuable resources.”

Haw River Elementary School Profile: UNC Greensboro Region

The Alamance-Burlington School System is a school district covering Alamance County and the city of Burlington, NC. It has approximately 22,500 students in 37 schools. The North Carolina New Teacher Support Program (NC NTSP) UNCG Region currently serves Walter Williams High School, Graham High School, Cummings High School, Turrentine Middle School, and Haw River Elementary School. The districts' induction program has worked actively in partnership with the NC NTSP by coordinating all of the UNCG Region’s NC NTSP professional development training sessions in a manner designed specifically for all Alamance- Burlington School System PK -12 teachers throughout the school year.

Haw River Elementary School has participated in the NC NTSP for the past three years. NC NTSP Instructional Coach Vanda Thomas has supported more than 37 beginning teachers at Haw River during that time. Jennifer Reed, Principal of Haw River Elementary School for most of the three years, is thrilled about the school’s growing success. Haw River Elementary school has demonstrated improved student achievement over the past three years. Reed maintains a vision of "Growing strong instructional leaders by supporting new teachers, challenging them and facilitating their vision of professionalism and effective teaching" within her school. Haw River Elementary School currently celebrates a high rate of teacher retention, increased school-wide test scores, and has moved up one North Carolina School Report Card Grade.


Research Spotlight: Getting the Most Out of Your Coaching Experience

Great coaches ask young athletes to go to great heights to challenge themselves. They take care to prepare the athlete for each stage of development but cannot eradicate risk because it's inseparable from growth. They can, however, intervene to ensure that the risk isn't so great that it outweighs the reward of accomplishment. For a new teacher navigating an educator’s journey, instructional coaching can be both intimidating and transformational when operating within an authentic relationship.

Research has shown “that coaching resulted in greater gains for teachers in instructional skills and application into their classrooms than more traditional models of professional development” (Joyce and Showers, 2002). While the job of an NC NTSP Instructional Coach is to support teachers to become more comfortable and effective in the classroom, it also requires teacher collaboration and motivation to expose personal vulnerabilities and weakness in order to grow. To get the most out of the NC NTSP coaching experience, teachers must demonstrate a willingness to participate. Just as those who seek out athletic trainers to support them in their workout regimen see improved performance, teachers who seek out and participate in coaching or mentoring relationships experience “increased efficacy as problem–solvers and decision makers, higher engagement in collaborative exchanges, and increased likelihood of remaining in teaching” (Lipton and Wellman, 2003, p. 1).

Coaches are always available to help teachers but buy-in is critical; supporting teachers’ emotional, physical, instructional, and institutional needs is effective as long as teachers allow Coaches to be a part of their teaching journey and “move the level of engagement from consulting to collaboration” (McGatha, 2008, p. 148). Instructional Coaches are not guides by the side or mentoring buddies. Instead, Coaches train, teach, and build capacity for effective instructional practices within specific content areas and create partnerships that promote both teacher and student success. A promising approach “to helping teachers build their instructional expertise” (Elish-Piper and L’Allier, 2011, p. 84) is the use of Instructional Coaches. Sweeney (2003) uses the terms “instructional coach” or “coach” to describe the support person who models new strategies in a classroom and then provides feedback when a teacher begins to use the new strategies. This process of teacher observation, feedback, and demonstration, including time for planning, debriefing, and co-teaching, has been proven to be effective, but frequency, specificity, and constructiveness are key for its success (Trach, 2014, p. 14). NC NTSP instructional coaching is a learning-focused partnership that aims to professionally transform and renew teaching and learning, which will ultimately aid student achievement. NC NTSP Instructional Coaches can provide emotional support by actively listening and empathetically responding to teacher needs and ensure a safe space to air concerns and share ideas. Yet, teachers must seek out these opportunities for growth and invest time, trust and effort or the support will be futile.

What are the characteristics of an effective instructional coaching relationship? Every Coach and teacher brings his or her own set of strengths, needs, interests, and goals to the collaboration so every relationship will look slightly different. However, Jim Knight (2007) describes seven principles that are the theoretical foundation for strong instructional coaching, including “equality, choice, voice, dialogue, reflection, praxis, and reciprocity” (p. 53). Each of these principles helps to foster the experience of the Coach and teacher. Coaches can become part of the classroom and will actively participate as permitted by the terms of the relationship and teacher openness and willingness to participate in the experience. Though the work of NC NTSP Coaches is non-evaluative by nature, Coaches will aid teachers in setting data-driven goals for teaching through observation, reflection, and student work. Being “coachable” requires asking for support to navigate institutional demands and procedures, teacher evaluation procedures and local initiatives, as well sharing and understanding specific school regulations and policies that may impact teacher and student success (Lipton and Wellman, 2003). The development of a comfortable working relationship between teacher and Coach will help to ensure professional growth and reflection.

The instructional coaching experience can also present teachers with a multitude of resources physical resources to assist with the practical elements of teaching and time and professional development to aid teacher growth. In addition, Instructional Coaches will customize goals and professional development to match teachers’ needs and interests and focus on the working relationships between a teacher and the classroom to increase the teacher’s capacity to plan lessons based on the systematic study of student needs (Sweeney, 2003). Conversations where student data and data analysis are “forums for reflection and introspection” must be had for intentional choices in the instructional process to emerge (Trach, 2014, p. 14). Teachers must be willing to reflect with their Coach on lessons as they implement instructional practices (Sweeney, 2003). This process is cyclical and characterized by teachers and Coaches working at various levels within the coaching continuum based on student and staff needs. The overarching role of the Instructional Coach is to build teacher capacity to implement effective instructional practices to improve student learning and performance, provide instructional support including ways to manage time and classroom management and routines, model or provide instructional strategies tailored to individual classroom needs, help with lesson planning and curriculum design, and provide resources to support those endeavors.

Through equality and choice, teachers and Coaches can create a balance of support that is both evaluative and non-evaluative to achieve student and teacher goals. Participant voice in the process is essential and will result in professional discoveries through conversations, observation, and reflection. The relationship must be respectful and recognize learning opportunities for both teacher and Coach, but the collaboration also must be based on confidence, consistency, planning, risk-taking and reflection for proficient practice to emerge (Trach, 2014, p. 15). Highly effective instructional coaching “involves reciprocity of ideas, questions, strategies, and experiences that stimulates thinking and results in growth for each educator involved in the process” (Trach, 2014, p. 16). An NC NTSP partnership “will only thrive if teachers feel safe and supported” and Coaches are permitted to present conditions that revitalize and sustain meaningful changes that should ultimately lead to a revitalization of teacher skills and classroom culture. Instructional Coaches are only as useful as teachers allow them to be.


Elish-Piper, L. and L’Allier, S. (2011). Examining the relationship between literacy coaching and student reading gains in grades K-3. The Elementary School Journal. 112(1), 83-106.

Joyce, B., and Showers, B. (2002). Student achievement through staff development (3rd ed.). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Knight, J. (2007). Instructional coaching: A partnership approach to improving instruction. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Lipton, L. and Wellman, B. (2003) Mentoring Matters: A Practical Guide to Learning-Focused Relationships. Sherman, CT: Mira Via.

McGatha, M. (2008). Levels of engagement in establishing coaching relationships. Teacher Development, 12 (2): 139-150.

Sweeney, D. (2003). Learning along the way: Professional development by and for teachers. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers.

Trach, S. (2014, November/December) Inspired instructional coaching. Principal Magazine, 13-16.


Profile: Jaye Taylor, Instructional Coach with the NC State Region

Jaye Taylor is an Instructional Coach with the North Carolina State University Region of the NC NTSP.  She holds an M.Ed. in Special Education from Western Carolina University and a North Carolina Principal’s License from Western Carolina’s School Administration Program. 

Jaye brings over 30 years of experience in education in numerous roles across the state of North Carolina to her role as Instructional Coach for the NC NTSP. Her career as an educator began as a classroom teacher in Buncombe and Wake Counties. She has also served as an Education Specialist for the Western Carolina Center and as a consultant and recruiter for Educational Personnel Development Systems. Jaye was a Coordinating Teacher for Central Office Special Education Services for the Wake County Public School System, and has served as an Adjunct Professor for North Carolina Wesleyan College’s Teach Up Program, as well as Western Carolina University’s School Administration Program.

Jaye is a skilled presenter and has shared her expertise via statewide conferences, as well as at the 2011 National Conference of Professors of Educational Administration. She has also conducted numerous professional development sessions for the teachers and districts she has served. 

Jaye is very passionate about serving beginning teachers in North Carolina. Jaye currently serves beginning teachers in the Edenton-Chowan, Harnett, Johnston, Lee, Perquimans, Roanoke Rapids, and Wayne school systems.

Jaye lives in Cary, NC with her husband Bill and her sweet Havanese, Ramsey. Jaye and Bill have 5 adult children that all live in Wake County. 


The NC NTSP & Effective Professional Development

Mention professional development to teachers, and if you listen closely enough, you will hear an almost imperceptible groan of, “Oh no!” Professional development doesn’t have a great reputation among teachers. Many teachers cite poor planning, irrelevant material, and inconvenience as the reasons they dread trainings and workshop. Relevant, effective, efficient, inspiring professional development should be the goal of every facilitator working with novice teachers. But what would is this professional development entail? Although there are multiple answers to this question, researchers and practitioners agree that professional development must promote active learning, foster coherence, and provide follow-up for participants.

The NC NTSP strives to create and deploy professional development that follows research-based practices. When studying the markers that indicate strong professional development practices, it is important to note that the NC NTSP is incorporating many of the suggested best practices.

The days of the “sit and get” are over. Sitting for long hours in a workshop used to be the acceptable norm. However, research shows that this is simply not an effective means of ensuring that participants take what they learn and apply it. In order for true application to take place, it is imperative for teachers to be a part of their learning. Active learning is an important component of successful professional development.  What does active learning look like in practice? Observation is a powerful active learning experience. This experience of observing an expert teacher provides an opportunity for true learning to take place. Providing time for teachers to plan how to incorporate new curriculum and strategies, review student work and data, lead discussions that are rich in reflections are all excellent professional development opportunities that actively engage teachers.

How many times have we sat through a professional development and thought, “This is great, but how does this relate to what I have to do for my students?” It turns out that this dissonance actually does strongly impact participant application. Researchers Garet, Porter, Desimone, Birman, & Yoon (2001) note that, “A professional development activity is more likely to be effective in improving teachers' knowledge and skills if it forms a coherent part of a wider set of opportunities for teacher learning and development” (p. 927). Facilitators of professional development must be acutely aware of not only larger state initiatives, but also local initiatives and school initiatives as well. Concerted efforts must be made to align professional development within state and district frameworks. By intentionally fashioning professional development within a context that is easily recognizable for teachers, facilitators provide a sense of coherence and understanding for the participants.

“Am I doing this right?” “Is this the correct way to use this strategy?” These are all questions that plague participants once they leave a professional development. Participants may leave a professional development excited about the prospect of trying something new in their classrooms; however, it doesn’t take long for doubts to start crowding that enthusiasm. Researchers Guskey and Yoon (2009) note in their article, What Works in Professional Development that, “Educators at all levels need just-in-time, job-embedded assistance as they struggle to adapt new curricula and new instructional practices to their unique classroom contexts” (p. 497). Providing follow-up to professional development is key to ensuring that correct application is taking place.  Facilitators need to understand that once they deploy professional development that, essentially, their job is just beginning. Effective professional development requires “significant amounts of structured and sustained follow-up.” (p. 497).

Garet, M. S., Porter, A. C., Desimone, L., Birman, B. F., & Yoon, K. S. (2001). What makes  professional development effective? results from a national sample or teachers. American

Educational Research Journal, 38(4), 915. Retrieved from

Guskey, T.R., & Yoon, K.S. (2009). What works in professional development. The Phi Delta Kappan, 90 (7), 495-500.



NC NTSP Asks: Q & A with WCU Partner Districts, Teachers, & Staff

How do you see NTSP assisting your district and the new teachers in your schools?

How do you see the NC NTSP assisting the Jackson County Schools and your beginning teachers?

Our partnership with the NC NTSP will give our new teachers support in “real-time”. In small rural school districts central office staff serve many roles. We are very fortunate to have the expertise on staff to support our new teachers; however, there are not enough hours in the day to give them the individual time they deserve. The NC NTSP Instructional Coach will offer non-evaluative support and will develop an open relationship allowing first-year teachers the freedom to ask and seek the support they need.

Lavonda Woodring, Human Resources Coordinator, Jackson County Public Schools



How has your NC NTSP Instructional Coach helped you effectively manage your classroom?

From the minute Tierney Fairchild walked into my classroom (and into my life as a coach), I felt a huge weight release from my shoulders because I quickly recognized I was in the care of a professional. As a first-year lateral entry teacher, I had been desperate for a Coach all year. When she arrived, her encouragement, positive attitude, support, and quick, can-do, go-to approach were all immediately valuable to me.

During one class, as I was working on an idea she suggested, but had no time to organize supplies and manage logistics, she jumped in and instantly had everything prepared and ready for my next class. Tierney provided me with outstanding ideas and suggestions for activities that became some of the most useful and deepest teaching activities in my classroom last year. She also helped me with suggestions about funding for my MAT. I can’t wait to work with her again this year!

Jeff Vamvakias, NC INSPIRE Teacher, Cullowhee Valley School, Jackson County Public Schools



Even though she wasn’t with me from the beginning of the year, if I hadn’t had Jennifer as my Instructional Coach, I might have considered resigning at the end of the year. I already see her as someone I can go to for lesson planning and resources, advice, someone I can vent frustrations to and have a laugh with. I am looking forward to having her visit my classroom over this coming school year!

Beginning Teacher, West McDowell Middle School, McDowell County Schools



As an NC NSTP Instructional Coach, what most excites you about working with beginning teachers in the WCU Region?

I believe strongly that the future of education in North Carolina depends on retaining bright, young teachers.  The support and coaching I provide now helps teachers grow in their craft, and that in turn helps their future students. Knowing I play a role in the continued legacy of outstanding North Carolina schools is the most exciting job I can imagine! 

Tierney Fairchild, Instructional Coach



Working with beginning teachers and seeing firsthand their professional growth and development over the course of a school year is very exciting for me! Supporting my novice teachers as they gain the knowledge, skills, and confidence needed to become successful veterans is the cornerstone of my coaching philosophy.

Jennifer Beck, Instructional Coach



What part of NC NTSP do you see as most valuable to beginning teachers?

I have seen the overwhelming value of Instructional Coaches working with first-year teachers in just the few months NC NTSP has expanded to western North Carolina.  I believe most notable is the energy and sense of empowerment the Instructional Coachesbring to valuable new teachers.  I remember my first days of teaching, and would have loved to have a coach I could call my own, to call upon and ask questions, to gain perspective in situations that seemed so confusing or concerning at the moment they were occurring.  I have observed how selflessly our coaches work to meet the needs of the teachers they are assisting.  Their wisdom, advice, and expertise are irreplaceable.  Our NC NTSP coaches are invaluable!

Pam Buskey, Regional Director