I am starting a weekly post to appear on Thursdays with the not-so-creative title This Week as Literacy Coach (TWaLC). Here is the debut of TWaLC.
February 15, 2018: This Week as Literacy Coach
Being a literacy coach has allowed me to pursue a passion I consider to be THE most important in education. That is, providing students with the experiences and opportunities necessary to become competent, confident, and established readers across many different texts, both simple and complex.
Twenty years of my career as a professional educator was spent in a high school E
nglish-Language Arts classroom. I have been in my current position as literacy coach for 564 days. New learning has occurred for this old dawg through many triumphs and many failures. In the spirit of vulnerability and collaboration, I will share my learning here.
Trust and Confidentiality
The greatest lesson I have learned as literacy coach is to build trust and maintain confidentiality. See, most literacy coaches and instructional coaches lie in an ambiguous state of being; neither are we administrators, nor are we classroom teachers.
I sense that teachers perceive my role as administrative, possibly evaluative. Whereas administrators seek characteristics of a teacher: utilizing best practice, advancing and sharing cutting-edge strategies, administer formative assessment to guide further leadership and differentiation of adult learners. In addition to these traits, the requirement for coaches to demonstrate strong leadership of professional educators as adult learners, is paramount to connect the pedagogy visions of the administrators and the teaching staff.
One of the most basic principles I have followed for the majority of my adult life is that I am here to help people succeed. I believe God has called me to serve others through the strengths and talents he has bestowed (I didn’t say burdened) upon me. Each and every day I show up to help others succeed. I want administrators to succeed. I want teachers to succeed. Most importantly, I want all students to succeed.
Build trust. In order for teachers to believe in me, to welcome me into their conversations they need to trust me. Teachers need to know that I will not judge them, that I don’t have all the answers, that I am learning alongside them, that I will support their willingness to try new things. Trust cannot be understated.
Build confidential relationships. Allow vulnerability to happen in a safe space where what happens, even the good, is not shared outside of that space until the classroom teacher is ready. There have been times when I have been really excited to share what I have observed or the awesomeness of co-teaching with a colleague only to learn that my colleague didn’t feel the same way and wanted to protect that vulnerability.
I want students to do more than survive high school. I want students to thrive.
I want teachers to do more than just survive the day, or survive 4th hour English class with ‘that group’ of students. I want teachers to feel supported and honored for who they are, what they do, and why they show up each and every day for school.
This week with high school students and teachers…
Frayer Model for Word Identification:
Use this tool to develop deeper meaning and understanding around complex texts.
Here is a great tutorial provided by The Teacher Toolkit
A simple three column chart students can create in their notebook to monitor their own comprehension and understanding of complex texts. The first column (What I Know) draws on specific background knowledge of a topic or text. In the second column (What I Want to Know), students record questions they have about the topic or text, both before they read and as they read. Finally, the third column (What I Learned), encourages students to record the answers to their questions or any newly gained knowledge. To take it all one step further, any questions students don’t get answered can be prompts for further inquiry.
Kate and Maggie Roberts: