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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


January - June 2020


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

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



Cohort Gatherings

Early career teachers have a hard time tearing themselves from their classrooms. For that reason, participants will 6 touch-points with their cohort, but only miss 2.5 days of school. Meetings will be a mix of in-person and video conferences, that will take place after school hours.

  • October 11, 2019 - Affinity Group Space at NWAIS Fall Conference. This optional session will be open to all early career teachers and will serve as a place to start to build a network of other teachers new to independent schools.
  • January 31, 2020 - Full day cohort meeting at Seattle area school + Evening Social
  • February 13, 2020 - 3:30-5:00pm Video Conference Meeting
  • March 13, 2020 - Full day meeting at Seattle area school
  • April 2, 2020- 3:30-5:00pm Video Conference Meeting
  • May 29, 2020 - Half-day workshop at Seattle area school + Lunch Social



Lead Faculty

The program faculty are a group of 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.


Program Advisors


Alice Hauschka, The Little School, Bellevue, WA, Assistant Head of School

Alice has spent more than fifteen years teaching, mostly in the company of 4th and 5th graders--five years in public school and ten years at The Little School. Currently, she serves as the Assistant Head of School at The Little School where she leads internal professional development and coaches the teaching staff as they tackle fairly hefty tasks around curricular continuity, pedagogical practice, and assessment. She also serves as a mentor teacher, spending half of each day in the classroom with new or developing teachers. Now on the more experienced end of the teacher spectrum, she is eager to develop more intentional ways to support the ongoing growth, resilience, and efficacy of teachers at all levels of experience. She is I am passionate about the opportunity to develop these strategies in ways that directly impact the quality of our teaching, the vitality of the school climate, and ultimately the love of learning for our students.



Jessica Hanson, University Prep, Seattle, WA, Science Teacher

Jessica began her teaching career over 20 years ago as a high school science instructor. Since that time she has helped found a school, served as a middle school head and worked as an academic dean, and instructional coach, helping individual teachers and departments improve instruction, assessment and curricular coherence. Jessica has helped build and define programs focused on teaching and learning. Throughout her career, she has worked to bring teachers together to collaborate on the art and science of pedagogy, with the goal of improving student outcomes by helping educators remain, learners, themselves. She has facilitated faculty professional development workshops on subjects ranging from curriculum mapping to formative assessment to the education of boys.




Cost and Registration


NWAIS Attendees

Early Bird (By December 19, 2019) $595
Regular (By January 9, 2020) $635
Late (After January 9, 2020) $675

Non-NWAIS Attendees $725


Cancellation Policy
Substitutions may be made any time prior to the conference. Written cancellations received by January 17, 2020 are eligible for a refund after a $100 cancellation fee. Cancellations received after January 17, 2020 are ineligible for any refund.


NWAIS Has Gone Paperless
All program materials will be provided electronically.

If there are pre-event materials, they will be sent to you via email about a week prior to the event. Please bring a internet connected device, download the materials in advance or print out the digital materials and bring them with you. We will not have hard-copy packets for attendees on-site.


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









Explore Cohort Programs



Instructional Growth Cohort

is our newest cohort for our newest educators. In this cohort educators in their first five years of independent school teaching will meet regularly over the course of 6 months, to discuss ideas of pedagogy, planning, and professionalism.

Registration to Open Fall 2019




Emerging Leaders Cohort

is a two-year program to develop independent school leaders in taking the next step in their career.

Applications for Next Cohort Due May 2020




Pathways to Leadership Cohort

is a two year program to develop women who are interested in becoming a Head of School in the next 3-5 years.

Applications for Next Cohort Due May 2020




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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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