Overview of Teacher Development Specialist Team

Overview of Teacher Development Specialist Team

Overview of Teacher Development Specialist Team

The Team

The Teacher Development Specialist team is made up of experienced coaches, most with deep classroom experience in HISD classrooms.

  • The TDS team is homegrown. The TDS team is predominantly made up of former HISD staff and teachers who have on average 10 years of classroom teaching experience across the various subject and grade levels where they are now serving as Teacher Development Specialists.
  • 81% of TDSs originated from the ranks of HISD before joining the TDS team. Most of the TDS team who did not come from HISD taught in other Houston-area schools or districts, including several nearby suburban districts, charter networks such as YES Prep and KIPP, and private schools such as St. John’s School.
  • The TDS team is qualified. The majority of TDSs who had previously been employed by HISD served as Instructional Specialists, Teachers, or Curriculum Specialists. HISD promoted 32 classroom teachers to the TDS team.
  • The TDS team is experienced. 3 out of 4 TDS have 6 or more years of classroom teaching experience, and almost 60% have 8 or more years of experience.
  • The TDS team is well trained. The TDS team engaged in a rigorous 6-week training this summer to prepare them to support HISD teachers as soon as the first day of school.
  • TDS Outcomes to Date. Over 8000 TDS teacher observations have been conducted aligned to the Instructional Practice Rubric along with follow-up feedback conversations and coaching sessions. District-wide training sessions have been conducted in the areas of STAAR reading, writing, mathematics, and science as well as building academic vocabulary for English Language Learners. We have also launched a website with resources aligned to each of the instructional practice criteria that teachers can access directly and TDS are using in their coaching: District-wide trend data for TDS follow up coaching and professional development include:
  • Focus Area # 1 - I-3 Differentiates instruction for student needs by employing a variety of instructional strategies
  • Focus Area # 2 - I-2 Checks for student understanding and responds to student misunderstanding
  • Focus Area # 3 - I-1 Facilitates organized, student-centered, objective-driven lessons
  • What People are Saying about TDS: Many teachers, principals, and SIOs have expressed their enthusiasm about the work TDS are doing to support teachers to reach their goals for their students:

“These TDS are PHENOMENAL, they’re effectively building relationships on my campus and what they’re prepared to do to support our teachers is going to be game changing.” – SIO

“This is exactly what we should be doing to support teachers and campuses. This is the best

approach to professional development I’ve ever seen HISD or any district take.” - Principal


TDS recruitment strategy focused on generating applications from strong teachers and coaches from HISD, local Houston districts, and around the country.

  • The recruiting process was rigorous. The primary recruiting strategy focused on gathering referrals from HISD leaders and teachers. That referral program was supplemented by referrals from surrounding districts.
  • The recruiting process was nationwide. The team used a national internet campaign strategy, which included advertising through national job boards, education school alumni boards, and education focused social media.
  • The recruiting process generated interest. There were 854 Applications for 130 TDS positions.
  • Roughly half (54%) of all applicants were invited to interview.
  • Approximately 1 in every 7 applicants (15%) was hired and currently serves on the TDS team.


The TDS selection process selected candidates with the skills and motivation necessary to be successful in the position.

  • HISD’s Teacher Development Specialist selection team focused on candidates’ skills, beliefs, and competencies critical to providing strong coaching and support to teachers. These competencies are:
  • Belief Alignment
  • Personal Responsibility
  • Record of Results
  • Organizing, Planning and Executing
  • Constant Learning
  • Analyzing Teacher Performance and Needs
  • Relationship Building, Facilitation, and Communication
  • Providing Feedback to Affect Change
  • Content Knowledge and Expertise
  • Multiple measures from the application and interview process were used to score and select candidates. For their initial screening, candidates were asked to submit essays and a resume, and complete a data project. Candidates who passed the initial screening were invited to present a sample lesson, participate in a discussion group, complete a video observation of a teacher, role play the process of giving feedback to a teacher, and participate in a traditional interview. Candidates who were displaced by the PD reorganization were asked to complete a streamlined process.
  • The selection team included HISD SIOs, HR leadership, and experience principals and classroom teachers. The PD team and academic team collaborated to make final hiring decisions.