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  • encouraging diverse points of view.
  • continuous reflection and on-going improvement.
  • collegial relationships and ethical leadership.
  • independent education options for families.
  • promoting the independence of our schools.
  • quality standards without standardization.
  • assisting schools in fulfilling their missions.

Instructional Growth Cohort

2020-21 Update:

In the light of light registrations, this cohort group was cancelled for 2020-21. It will be offered again in 2021-22.

Cohort Overview

Designed for educators in their first five years of independent school teaching, educators in this cohort will meet regularly to discuss ideas of pedagogy, planning, and professionalism with expert educators and instructional coaches.

Workshops will take place in NWAIS schools, broadening exposure to the types of schools and missions in the area. Participants will develop relationships with other early career educators as well as educators with more experience, deepening their connection to the educational community.

Participants will work together to build and deepen their practices (instructional & curricular), their resilience, and foster a growth mindset for ongoing learning. In addition to honing some of the core elements of teaching practices, cohort members will also delve into topics that specifically relate to independent school culture such as: the tensions between autonomy and alignment, the challenges and opportunities inherent in parent communication.

Who Should Consider This Program

Teachers, assistants, residents and interns in their first five years of independent school teaching would all be excellent fits for the program.

Areas of Focus

Through intentional cohort-building approaches, attendees can expect to gain knowledge and skills while creating a network of supportive peers. The following content will be covered:

  • Classroom Culture
  • Lesson & Unit Planning
  • Professionalism
  • Communication (parents, colleagues, supervisors, etc.)
  • Problems of Practice
  • Reflection

Program Components

This program will be comprised of a number of in-person and virtual meetings.

  • 3 In-person cohort meetings at Seattle area school(s)
  • 4 Zoom check-ins between in-person meetings
  • One-on-one coaching as needed (optional)

Cohort Gatherings

Tentative Schedule, provided for planning purposes. Attendees will gather in person, and therefore be out of school, for 2.5 days. Exact dates to follow.

December 2021 (3:15-4:15pm) - Virtual check-in meeting

January 2022 (9:00-3:00pm) - In-person full-day meeting

February 2022 (3:15-5:00pm) - Virtual meeting

March 2022 (9:00-3:00pm) - In-person full-day meeting

April 2022 (3:15-5:00pm) - Virtual meeting (3:00-5:00pm)

May 2022 (12:00-3:00pm) - In-person ½ day meeting


The program faculty are current and former Instructional Coaches, who were awarded the NWAIS Fellowship for Collaborative Innovation and have continued to contribute to NWAIS through coaching round tables and programming for early career educators

Michelle Harrison, The Evergreen School, Shoreline, WA, Instructional Coach

Michelle is an instructional coach at The Evergreen School. She taught for 20+ years with experience teaching math, science, social studies, language arts, and PE in grades 4-8. This is her sixth year as an instructional coach at Evergreen where she supports novice and experienced teachers to improve their craft. Connecting with teachers and supporting them in developing their teaching craft is the most exciting aspect of coaching work for Michelle. She believes that teachers who have consistent, non-evaluative support are more confident, take more risks and are better equipped to be successful teachers. In her work she supports teachers by observing and giving feedback, coplanning lessons, setting goals, problem-solving and sharing ideas.

Regan Wensnahan, The Little School, Bellevue, WA, Director of Admissions

Regan Wensnahan has worked in independent school education since 1985 and has been director of enrollment management and marketing at The Little School since 2017. Having worked at and attended a variety of progressive independent school throughout her life, she has strong experience supporting student centered learning environments. Ms Wensnahan has held a variety of positions in six schools in the area as a classroom teacher, literacy and instructional coach, and director of studies. She has also been an educational consultant helping families work through the process of finding a good fit school for their child. Initially, she worked to improve her own practice through voraciously reading and attending workshops and classes. Over the years, her passion shifted to helping fellow teachers think and learn more about the process and products of teaching. The role of an instructional coach is a delightful fit for Regan because it allows her to walk with teachers as they reflect on the many complex choices that they make daily in lessons.

Cost and Registration

Check back for cost and registration information

Attendees Will Be Eligible For Clock Hours And / Or STARS Credits

Attendees from NWAIS member schools receive clock hours and STARS free of charge. For those not affiliated with a member school, there is a $10 processing fee for Clock Hours and for STARS Credits. The original clock hours form or your STARS certificate will be mailed back to you for your records. If you need to petition another agency for credits or you would like a certificate for your files, NWAIS is happy to provide one upon request at no charge.

NWAIS May Help Cover Travel Costs

The NWAIS travel reimbursement policy is designed to reimburse candidate and accredited member schools for some travel costs. This policy applies to a school’s total travel expenses (not the cost of rooms and meals), no matter how many people the school sends to the workshop. If your school spends more than $150 dollars on travel for this event and is traveling a distance greater than 250 miles you will be reimbursed a percentage of your expenses. Click here for more details

Click here for travel share reimbursement form

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Northwest Association of Independent Schools
5001 California Ave. SW, Suite 112
Seattle, Washington 98136
T: 206.323.6137 • info@nwais.org
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