Forum 2: What Literacy Coaches Ought to Know about Adult Learning and Professional Development

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Doug Fisher, Mon February 19, 2007, 04:39 PM MST

Watch for this forum to launch this Thursday!


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Jaime Harkins , Thu February 22, 2007, 02:18 PM MST - Literacy Coaches/ Professional Development

The following article, which can be found in the library of this website, provides an outstanding model of how one can make the transformation into a literacy coaching position through professional development and adult learning.

Riddle-Buly, M., Coskie, T., Robinson, L, and Egawa, K. (2006). Literacy Coaching:Coming out of the corner. Voices from the Middle, 13, 24-28.

Professional development like student learning progresses through stages. These stages include observation of a skill being modeled, guided instruction, and independent work. In the model for development presented in this article the educator moves through this process while working with one who has already developed the skills needed to be a reading coach. This process allows reading coaches to have the support they need over time as opposed to beginning a new position in a school where you are the only reading coach and may not have a clear understanding of you exact position or the students needs in the school. This model also allows more opportunity for reflection, which is a huge factor in one's professional growth.

If one is being guided to progress in a new position, they will gain the skills and knowledge they need to impact students achievement at a certain grade level. As a literacy coach gains the skills they need to impact student achievement, he/she will be able to better instruct other teachers because they have also been instructed by a reading coach and will understand how it feel to be on the other side. This process also allows the teacher who will be coached the opportunity to understand how the reading coach gained his/her skills and may create mutual respect between teachers and coached. As respect, skills, and knowledge grow between professionals the impact they have, as a team will increase student achievement.

Jessica Hudec , Sat February 24, 2007, 07:32 AM MST - Literacy Coaches & Structured Conversations

One article in the library section of this website, "Literacy Coaching: Coming Out of the Corner" gave some advice on how a literacy coach should talk with teachers. The dialogue that takes place between the two must include "instruction and improving student learning."

The article stated that it is very important for literacy coaches to listen to and not make negative comments towards the teacher. This can really close the doors towards building a trusting relationship between the two.

I think that some teachers may not be open to literacy coaches. Some teachers might feel incompetent. This is clearly not the case of what literacy coaches are supposed to be doing.

It is not that the literacy coach is telling us what to do, they are helping teachers develop an understanding of "why" they are doing what they are doing in the classroom. I really like how the literacy coach helps teachers become more reflective thinkers when it comes to planning and implementing literacy instruction.

I would be very responsive to work one on one with an effective literacy coach. Would you?

Joshua Mull , Sat February 24, 2007, 07:10 PM MST - Teacher Leadership as Professional Development

As an educator it is sometimes hard to swallow being told what is wrong, what to do to fix it, and how to fix it. I have recently read an article called Improved Professional Development Through Teacher Leadership (Hickey, W.D. & Harris, S. (2005). Improved Professional Development Through Teacher Leadership. The Rural Educator, 26(2), 12-16.) In this article Hickey and Harris suggest teacher leadership as a method for professional development. As educators we respect our peers and their achievements and are willing to learn from those we respect.

We can also use teacher leadership to improve professional development by giving our teachers a voice. Make teachers members of teams and have them ask what is wrong and how to fix those problems. As a member of a team working to solve problems, I am sure to work hard to implement what the team has devised.

Denise Shumsky , Sun February 25, 2007, 10:27 AM MST - Literacy Coaching: Coming Out of the Corner

The article, Literacy Coaching: Coming out of the Corner, gave some good advice on how literacy coaches should communicate with teachers. First of all, the communication must be a conversation where both the literacy coach and the teacher have mutual goals. The literacy coach needs to ask questions to the teacher that focus on instruction. This conversation should be about how to improve student learning. As we mentioned in class, coaches need to be careful on how their questions are stated. Questions should not be yes or no answers. The questions asked need to help the teacher think critically about his or her instructional practices.

The article also stated that "Effective instructional coaching requires a collegial relationship built around mutual trust and goals". This is so true. In order for growth and learning to take place, you have to trust someone and not be on guard. The teachers need to be able to teach in a free of judgement enviornment. When this happens, there will be positive learning experiences for both the teachers and the students.

kelly cahall , Sun February 25, 2007, 10:38 AM MST - Voices from the Middle
I believe that the article, "Voices from the Middle," had some very good points about today's hot topic, reading coaches. My school district does not current employ reading coaches and if it were to go that route in the future, I can see many difficulties. It is so important for a reading coach to have a clearly defined job description. Many educators are ignorant as to the role of the reading coach and would be opposed to dealing with such a person. Educators and coaches themselves need to be educated on the role of the reading coach to gaing a better understanding. I also feel that it is very important fo rthe reading coach to have support over time. Implementing what is a new position to many districts would not be an easy job. Support and guidance are essential.
alexa contes , Sun February 25, 2007, 10:38 AM MST - learning relationships
I found the article entitled From a Coach’s Corner: What is a literacy Coach? to be very informative. I, myself had a “jaded” perception of the literacy coach’s role, compared to that of a reading specialist. (I have worked primarily with the reading specialist until December of last year.) I feel that a relationship between the educator and the literacy coach, that encourages educators to realize that mistakes are part of the learning process, is imperative. It is, after all, through trial and error that we come to find the best practices to meet our students’ needs. It is also through open discussion that we may improve our practices in the classroom and guide others. I felt the way this article depicted the literacy coaches as the “lead learners”, helped to break down the walls of superiority that are often associated with “literacy coaches”. No one wants to be told how to teach, but it is through suggestion and constructive criticism that we perfect our practices.
Doug Fisher , Sun February 25, 2007, 01:58 PM MST -
Intersting postings. I'm pleased that this topic is already generating discussion. As I was reading this, I kept thinking about the differences between teaching children and teaching adults. What are the similarities and differences that coaches really have to pay attention to?
Kristi Tomayko , Wed February 28, 2007, 09:35 AM MST -
In response to Doug's question about what the similiarities and differences are between teaching children and teaching adults, I'd like to focus on the similarities. Both adults and children need to have a trust/relationship developed between teacher and student. They also need to believe that the teacher knows his/her stuff. I think the reading coach's job is to not only develop trusting relationships with the adults and students they work with, but also to stay up to date on current trends and be a master of their area.
Jaime Harkins , Wed February 28, 2007, 01:35 PM MST -
As I reflect on the similarities and differences between how children and adults learn, I tend to think of more similarities than differences. It has been challenging for me to identify the differences. However, in my opinion one difference is that adults do not tend to be as open minded. Adults are more confident at times and have had experiences along with education, which has created the strong beliefs they have. Children are very open-minded when it comes to change and they often have confidence in their educator. Adults may also feel that admitting to a weakness had meant they have failed in some way or another. That is why it is so important for a reading coach to gain the confidence and respect of adults they are working with.
Ramona Schwartz , Wed February 28, 2007, 02:30 PM MST - Differences and Similarities in Adult and Child Learners
Jaime's comment about children being open-minded as opposed to adults truly hit home. As a coach who now works on the district-level and almost exclusively with adults, I definitely see a greater level of discomfort with change and with wanting to try new things. One of the most important elements of coaching is the ability to establish trust with a staff-- teachers and administrators. That trust and respect for those who lead or provide guidance during the change process often help to make uncomfortable moments more palatable. I also wonder about the aspect of needing to be challenged and have some disequilibrium in order to make growth (read learning) happen.
Erika Shavulsky , Wed February 28, 2007, 07:53 PM MST - Future Careers in Literacy Coaching?
In an earlier response the question was posed, “What professional career within the reading field do you feel best fits your personality or teaching style?” I have always loved being a classroom teacher. I love the variety and the challenge of running a classroom and educating students in a variety of subjects. However after reading about the role of a literacy coach, I am very interested in this position because of the impact you can have on an entire school. This is not a position that is static or lacking variety and it opens an entirely different set of challenges. Many of these challenges are rooted around working with adults. Children are open-minded and have a desire to learn new things. Their entire role as a student is to be filled with knowledge. If only as adults we could retain these qualities. Unfortunately every new task involves a certain amount of resistance. It is human nature to be cautious of new ideas and initially resist situations that are different or unknown. Teachers seem to have an especially hard time being asked to try new things if they are sure that their current ways are correct. A literacy coach is able to aid in educating an entire community instead of a single classroom of individuals. From administration and teachers, to parents and students, a literacy coach has such potential to affect the learning environment of a community. As I read in a posted article, schools should focus more on the resources within the school, and utilize what is already available before assuming that the only correct answers lie outside the school grounds. As much as I enjoy working with students, I could easily see myself working to better my school as a whole, regardless of the resistance that I may encounter, in the role of a literacy coach in the future.
Amy Peterson , Thu March 01, 2007, 07:30 AM MST - Similarities and Differences between adult and student learners
I wanted to expand on a comment the Jamie made about the fact that adults tend to not be as open minded. I agree with this statement and I think that the solution is not much different from that of how we treat that student in the room who doesn't "need" to hear what the teacher has to say. I think that a lot of the strategies and techniques that we employ with these students can be applied to the adults that we are working with on literacy, just a much more adult way. We must respect those individuals and we must truly believe in what we are doing. I think that this will come across to the teachers as it does with our students and allow for a mutual trusting and respectful working relationship.
Barbara Underdown , Thu March 01, 2007, 05:45 PM MST - Literacy Coaches Knowledge of Adult Learners
What literacy coaches “ought” to know and in reality what they do know about adult learning are two different things. In my own experience, I received no formal preparation about the needs of adult learners. When I work with teachers, I treat them with respect. I listen, take notes, make suggestions, encourage and give feedback. I think if I had knowledge about adult learning needs, I could better serve the teachers with whom I work. Right now, I just rely on my own knowledge and experience of adult relationships. This is working fine, but I feel that I’m just maintaining the status quo. I think that if I had specific knowledge about working with adult learners, I could more easily move teachers to examine their classroom practices and change.
Ramona Schwartz , Fri March 02, 2007, 02:03 PM MST - Literacy Coaches' Knowledge of Adult Learners
Barbara has a valid point about being truly informed about how to work with adult learners. Often what I have read or been coached on myself as a coach is the respect and trust building, but we have not delved deeply into the practices of how to hook and involve adult learners. This is an essential piece. I have found useful material in Cathy Toll's work and also that of Jennifer Allen -- in relating to teachers whether one-on-one, small group, and even in whole school settings. This knowledge of working with adults would also be a great way to employ some differentiation techniques as well. It seems to me that there might also be some validity in really understanding one's role within a school or district. That role also dictates (or at the least influences) how coaches interact with faculty and staff and to what extent they are there to be effective change agents.
Kim Deceder , Sat March 03, 2007, 02:21 PM MST - Similarities and Differences between adult and student learners
I very much agree with Amy Peterson's comments about comparing adult and student learners. She suggested that some techniques that we use with our difficult students could also be applied to our difficult adult learners. That is an excellent point. We need to understand that adults are not as open minded and as receptive as most of our students are to learn. Furthermore, we need to see them as individuals with different motivations and educators at different points in their careers. However, with the right approach, we can reach most people. We need to find a way to help the teacher see a useful purpose for what we are teaching them. If they see a benefit, they will be more likely to be receptive. That approach is similar to the theory that we should make the learning in our classrooms authentic and practical for our students. We also need to get to know their personalities. If we know a little bit about their backgrounds, we will be more likely to know how to approach them successfully.
Jessica Hudec , Sun March 04, 2007, 11:40 AM MST - Adult Learning

The literacy coaches primary job is working with adults (teachers). It is a good idea for the literacy coach to complete a literacy curriculum survey. These observations will be able to provide literacy coaches with a framework of what needs to be developed in their building.

Also, literacy coaches need to get to know each of the teachers in their building. They need to provide relevant information that will meet the teaching needs of each professional.

For meaningful adult learning to take place, literacy coaches have to model reading strategies or a specific way to guide instruction in the classroom. Adults (and children) learn best in a variety of modes ~ some people are more visual, or hands ~ on. However, it has been documented that teachers will be more likely to continue a literacy coaches suggestions if it is modeled.

Teachers obtain a lot of great ideas related to literacy development in staff meetings or professional development conferences. However, little of the time is actually devoted to showing teacher how it should look like or what should be done. As a result, most of that devoted time for teacher in - service is lost because of the modeling aspect.

Overall, I think it would be just as challenging to teach adults! Meeting individual needs and modeling are two ways that can aide in adult learning.

Barbara Underdown , Tue March 06, 2007, 04:59 PM MST - Children and Adult Learners

I agree with Jessica about the importance of getting to know the teachers in your building. Valuing a teacher as an individual is the first step in forming a trusting, respectful relationship. Ask me about my weekend, my kids, my family…don’t just start talking shop. When personal ties have been established, then the real work can begin. Teachers are much more likely to request coaching from someone who has made an attempt to get to know them on a personal level.

It’s interesting, because as I think about the similarities and differences between children and adult learners, I would say that children also appreciate being approached on a personal level before instruction begins. Thus, at the middle school we have interest inventories, student surveys and all kinds of “getting to know you” activities. I am wondering whether I spend enough time making personal connections with the teachers that I coach. This is an improvement that would be easy to implement.

Laura Mumaw , Tue March 06, 2007, 05:48 PM MST - What Do I Do All Day?
I was intrigued by the title of the article, What Am I Supposed to Do All Day? I never completely understood the difference between a reading coach and a reading specialist before I began researching for my graduate class. This article not only explains the differences, but also sheds light on the large volume of work for which a reading coach is responsible. From administrative duties to classroom visits, the day of a reading coach is full. Coaches also have to work hard to earn the trust of the teachers with whom they work. I definitely have more respect for how challenging it must be to be a reading coach.
Laura Mumaw , Tue March 06, 2007, 06:08 PM MST - Voices From the Middle
In the article, Voices from the Middle, I especially liked the quote “The greatest single problem in contemporary professional development is the absence of follow-up (Micheal Fullen).” As a teacher, I think that statement is absolutely true. How many teachers hear a new idea at a workshop and think, “That’s a great idea, but who has time? How could I fit that into my teaching?” With the aide of a coach, teachers are helped to figure out ways to incorporate these new ideas into their classroom. The follow-up is now present, through a coach who comes in to help the teacher. This is an area in which I had never thought of the benefits of a reading coach, but really believe a coach could make a huge difference.
Laura Mumaw , Tue March 06, 2007, 06:29 PM MST - Adult Learners
I agree with Barbara and Jessica about the importance of getting to know the teachers with whom you work on a more personal level. While children are generally very open and trusting from the start, adult learners tend to be more wary of a new person’s advice. Building a repertoire with the person you are coaching would definitely make him or her more receptive to any advice you may give. Walking in and immediately beginning to give help and suggestions may not be well received by an adult.
Denise Shumsky , Wed March 07, 2007, 07:28 PM MST - Adult Learners
I definitely agree with Barbara about the importance of getting to know teachers with whom you work. I feel that it does take adults time to trust people that they work with. A coach should not just go into another teacher's classroom and begin telling them what to do. That seems to set a negative tone and creates resentment. If a coach first develops a personal working relationship while also gaining trust, it will create a positive atmoshphere. Once the teacher sees that you are working with them for the betterment of the student, they will be willing to take suggestions and direction without becoming defensive. I also feel that respect must be gained. Coaches must prove that they are knowledgable and confident in what their role is. Working together as a team makes for a productive environment.
Amanda Errington , Thu March 08, 2007, 11:17 AM MST - Children and Adult Learners
In response to Doug's question I think there is a lot to consider when coaching teachers. I just did my professional development project and it went great. I really tried to get across the benefits not only for the teachers but for the students as well. They really appreciated knowing how this hour of their time was going to help their students succeed. I also made a point to be very straightforward which I was complimented on. So many times professionals go into long drawn out speeches using their complicated vocabulary. The teachers I met with wanted to know how this strategy would benefit them, their students, and how to go about teaching it in their class with the least amount of disruption to their usual instruction. I also talked with a history teacher who really wanted to employ these reading strategies in his class but just couldn't find the time to read into them and was appreciative of the workshop I held. He said how beneficial it would be to have someone who would sit down with him and help him think of ways to make improvements in the area of reading. I really enjoyed this coaching role and feel now it may be more of an interest than the reading specialist position.
kelly cahall , Sun March 11, 2007, 12:06 PM MDT - Child and Adult Learners
When I think of the difference between child and adult learners, I think of the different approach that a reading coach must take as opposed to a classroom teacher. Classroom teachers are the authority but a successful coach must be more of a peer. I don't feel that adults who are used to being the authority in the classroom each day will respond well to someone other than a peer offering suggestions for improvement. Being a successful coach is something that takes time. Respect, patience and practice are critical.
Amy Peterson , Mon March 12, 2007, 08:24 AM MDT - Coaching
I found this topic very interesting. A peer asked a question that I had never given much thought to: How many years of teaching experience should a literacy coach have, ideally? The response was that the literacy coach should have spent several years as a classroom teacher and time as a reading specialist, working with struggling readers before becoming a literacy coach. I found this point interesting. I had never thought of the benefits of working as a reading specialist first. It would be helpful to be able to work on best practices with struggling readers before being able to coach teachers on these best practices. I found this to be a very helpful response.
Debbie Blanco , Tue March 13, 2007, 10:31 AM MDT - Adult Learners
I also agree with Barb and Denise with getting to know the teachers. It is the thread to trust. I have read the many definitions of a literacy coach on this website and realize that this job definition is still truly in the making. How do we explain who and what we are to our adult audience and have them trust a position that is still being defined? I also agree with Kelly when she talks about respect, patience and practice. Often we start new positions with vigor and many of our own visions in mind. This does not take into account the visions of the teachers before us. This is something I truly want to concentrate on in the future. I would like to have the teachers be a part of the vision making process and then hopefully create adult learners and/or a learning community.
Danielle Conrad , Tue March 13, 2007, 02:28 PM MDT - Building Relationships

The interactions that take place between a literacy coach and the teacher are very important, just as it is between a teacher and a student. The article, “What am I supposed to do all day?”: Three big ideas for the reading coach,” found on this site’s library, provides some valuable insight into the most important parts of developing such relationships. First, it is important to stay focused. It is easy to get distracted, but the coach is there to help improve reading instruction, which leads to improved student learning. Second, it is important to be a frequent presence in the classroom. My question is how can you improve your relationship with a teacher and therefore improve instruction, if you do not know the teacher? And how can you know the teacher if you do not spend quality time with that teacher? I think this is a very important component in the relationship between the coach and the teacher. The authors of this article also emphasize this point by explaining that involvement in the classroom simple contributes to the ultimate goal. The final point is that a reading coach should be knowledgeable about reading and instruction. Teachers will need to know that the coach knows enough to be helpful. If a coach does not demonstrate this knowledge, they will lose credibility. This will greatly damage the relationship between the coach and the teacher. So the main point is to stay focused, stay involved, and stay knowledgeable.

I would also like to highlight some valuable words found in this same article. The words describe a literacy coach and the types of relationships they should develop: assistantship, critics (constructive), guide, mentor, leaders, collaborating, cheerleaders, and support. The words will be great words to review occasionally to help stay focused on the role of a literacy coach.

Dole, J. (2006). What am I supposed to do all day? Three big ideas for the reading coach. The Reading Teacher, 59, 486-488.

Danielle Conrad , Tue March 13, 2007, 02:34 PM MDT - Coaching Teachers and Teaching Students
I am currently a graduate student working on a masters degree in reading. Part of our preparation requires us to complete a coaching cycle. What teachers ought to really know about literacy coaching is that it is similar in many ways to teaching students. In reflecting on this assignment there are quite a few similarities between coaching teachers and teaching students. I have included only four similarities that I have discovered through this experience. First, it is important to focus on strengths and weaknesses. It is not effective to point out only weaknesses, you will leave the learner feeling defeated and shut off from new learning. Second, scaffolding is an effective tool for helping someone come to new understandings. Third, when learning something new, both students and teachers want to be assured that they are safe and supported in the learning environment. And finally, every learner is different. The teaching tools that work for one person may not work for another. It is fascinating how coaching teachers and teaching students are similar. I am sure I will continue to make connections between the two as I gain more experience and learn more about literacy coaching.
Claudia Gates , Tue March 13, 2007, 09:44 PM MDT - Coaching Considerations is Very Useful

After reading the article by Douglas Fisher, I found some useful tips to use during reading coaching. Although I was once a coach, I returned to the classroom and am considering taking a coaching position in my current district. It is refreshing to learn that Fisher encourages reading coaches to be highly collaborative and supportive during the coaching process. In order to effectively provide useful feedback about useful reading instruction, one must have strong leadership skills and engage in professional development to be informed about the latest reading research. I believe the two characteristics are very important because no reading coach will be effective if he/she is without strong leading skills. Because true leaders are humble and know how to serve the needs of teachers and students, they do not profess to "know it all" or are arrogant about their knowledge in the area of reading. As a practicing teacher, I can truly say that we enjoy consultants who are not extremely arrogant and claim to know everything about reading instruction. In addition, reading coaches who desire to develop themselves (while working in their positions) make a true commitment to the education profession. They set an example for other educators. Reading coaches who engage in professional learning opportunities demonstrate that all should be willing to engage in additional education to acquire new knowledge.

The CIPP Model is an excellent way to collect data to assess teacher effectiveness. It provides a realistic outline of how to help teachers produce effective literacy in the classroom. I am impressed with Doug Fisher's article!

Charlotte Kulla , Sun March 18, 2007, 02:37 PM MDT - Adult Learning and Professional Development

Like Amanda, my experiences as a resource teacher and literacy program coordinator have taught me that adult learners appreciate professional growth opportunities that provide examples of effective instructional practices then time to plan applications of the new learning in their classrooms. Although we know that all learners seek relevance, I find that adults are more vocal about it. Professional growth opportunities that give teachers time to focus on classroom application receive the most favorable feedback.

Ault learners want to see the proof of effectiveness themselves before they embrace something. Thomas R. Guskey's model of change found in "Staff Development and the Process of Teacher Change. (Educational Researcher, May 1986, 7)" points out that classroom applications that lead to positive student outcomes effect teacher buy-in. Since we all know that practices don't always work well the first time, debriefings, discussions, and coaching support become all the more essential.

This brings me to one more valuable source. Cathy Toll, author of Literacy Coach’s Survival Guide, recommends that coaches use these questions in teacher meetings/discussion: "When you think about the kind of reading and writing you want your students to do, what gets in your way? ( 46)” and “Last time we agreed to talk about _. Today I hear that you are concerned with _. Which would you like to focus on today? (76)” These help me to maintain focused on what’s most relevant and nonthreatening to teachers: effecting student achievement.

Ramona Schwartz , Tue March 20, 2007, 08:23 AM MDT - Adult Learning and Professional Development

I think that Charlotte's reference to Cathy Toll's work highlights one of the end goals of being a literacy coach-- that of student achievement. In a class on coaching, we have discussed that student achievement often segues into change in instruction or philosophy or approach when a teacher can see students are making strides. If a coach focuses on those teacher's needs from Toll's Literacy Coach's Survival Guide, he or she stands a better chance of making it through the door of the classroom and opening up the practice that occurs there.

The Do's and Don'ts article from the In the News also relates to how a coach can reinforce their credibility. One of the don't entries is something that was done to me as a coach. My office was next to the main office. When I worked out of a small closet room with no heat, teachers were more apt to stop in. That proximity to administration and having one's job be misconstrued as administrative or evaluative potentially hinders the growth of professional relationships with teachers and can deeply disrupt that sense of trust that is a thread in everyone's response.

Debbie Blanco , Tue March 20, 2007, 11:10 AM MDT - Adult Learners and Trust

Ramona, I agree with your comments on trust. It is continuously a balancing act with teachers and the administration. That is why I really like the literacy coach job descriptions on this website. They are written for the board of education, administrators, and teachers. I work in the school's literacy closet where reading materials are housed for the teachers. I have had some of the best professional conversations as teachers come in looking for new materials. I also agree that we need to continuously assure the teachers that it is about the student's achievement, not a judgment of their performance.

Laura Mumaw , Tue March 20, 2007, 06:19 PM MDT - Professional Development
I read an interesting article for my graduate class entitled “Professional Staff Development: What Works?” (Abaiano & Turner, New England Reading Association Journal). The authors were doing research to find what works with professional development and what could be done more effectively. Six factors were mentioned to help encourage teachers to use knowledge gained from professional development long-term. These factors were: support networks, administrative support, understanding student benefits, student acceptance, flexibility of practice, and readily available materials. I thought this was powerful because these six things really would make professional development a fantastic source to improve teaching. A network is so important because it helps teachers have a place to look to collaborate or get any necessary help. Administrative support would make teachers more accountable for following through with the new practices. Understanding benefits for students helps teachers really believe in the strategies learned, and flexibility helps teachers take ownership and not simply try to fit into a set teaching mold. Student acceptance gets both teachers and students more excited about learning. Readily made materials makes a lesson possible to do. How many times have teachers said, “What a great idea but we don’t have ...... (fill in any number of resources!).” I really enjoyed this article because I feel these six factors are often not present in conjunction with professional development activities. I know I personally would be much more excited about these opportunities if these factors were incorporated, and I believe most other teachers I know would be as well.
Elizabeth Cardenas-Lopez , Wed March 21, 2007, 12:15 PM MDT - Coaching Considerations:FAQs Useful in the Development of Literacy Coaching
In implementing and orchestrating a literacy coaching initiative I agree with Doug Fisher's idea that the change initiative should be transparent to all change agents. The purpose and mission of a literacy coach initiative should be clearly stated and disemminated to everyone involved right from the start, so that administrators, teachers, parents and coaches know what to expect from each other and where each one stands in the change initiative. The role of the literacy coach is complex and multifaceted, but I believe that most cricital is engaging teachers in a shared learning community. Teachers need to get involved in the process of setting the purpose of having a literacy coach come into their classrooms. Teachers and coaches need to build a relationship of trust and commitment in learning and working together in addressing the needs of all students as well as in reaching their potential.
Elizabeth Cardenas-Lopez , Thu March 22, 2007, 09:04 PM MDT - Building Relationships & Do's and Don'ts

In building relationships the literacy coach has to work alongside with teachers, teaching, assessing, and problem solving, so that she/he can be seen as a partner in providing the best instruction for students and not as the expert who will come into a classroom and change what is not working. Teachers feel more comfortable working with coaches that are non "evaluative" of their teaching practices. They are most likely to seek and want change, working with a coach that is collegial and supportive. It is important that teachers see their literacy coach as a resource and partner in facilitating student learning and academic achievement and not as someone who will just be there to critique or evaluate their work.

In implementing a literacy project in middle grade classrooms I've had experiences that have worked for me as a literacy coach. A positive experience at the initial implementation stage is that I established that my goal was to work and learn together with teachers in finding effective ways of helping all students improve their academic learning. I moved forward by building a collaborative relationship with teachers that were open and willing to change or improve their instructional practices in literacy--I may say that at the beginning stage it was just a handful of teachers who I felt were true volunteers. I also built a relationship of trust and respect with teachers by being "one of them" and not someone who will come into their classrooms, or staff development and literacy meetings, and give them a list of expectations. I encouraged and motivated teachers by showing and not by telling. I modeled lessons for them; I planned lessons and activities with them; I observed them teaching and working with students, and then conferenced with them about the experience. I also helped them get resources they needed to implement specific reading strategies. Last, in reflecting of my own practices, I realized that I needed to step back when I felt I was "pushing" too hard or when I sensed that the teacher felt uncomfortable in moving forward with innovative literacy practices.

It is true that teaching teachers is not far different from teaching students. One needs to know that both teachers and students, as learners, need support; need to see examples; need to have resources; need appropriate feedback and the space and time to reflect on what they do and why. But literacy coaches need not to forget that we too, as learners have the same needs of teachers and students. And thus, we must continue learning from our own experiences, from literacy experts and from the experiences of the teachers and students with whom we work.

Denise Salit , Fri March 23, 2007, 01:21 PM MDT - Building Relationships Do's and Don'ts

Like many of you have mentioned it's all about building relationships. I feel that being a past classroom teacher gives me credibility in the eyes of the teachers in which I coach. They know that I know where they are coming from, and they know that I see what they are going through. When giving ideas for lessons or assessments they know that I am refering to my past experiences, not just quoting from professional literature. I have been in their shoes and that helps! One difficult situation that I have been up against is that in my district our role of Reading Coaches is new and we are learning along with our administrators. So, as we go along this journey I hear many references to "making" particular teachers work with the coaches to get help with areas that our principals feel they need help with.... wrong approach! We are working to reverse this poor understanding of what we do so as to not make the Reading Coaches out to be a punishment. We are working through it nicely and the understanding is much better. I really think that the key is to educate others about the process while educating ourselves.

Juliana Perisin , Fri March 23, 2007, 02:47 PM MDT -

Coaching for coaching class.doc

Juliana Perisin , Fri March 23, 2007, 02:54 PM MDT -
Susan Frisch , Fri March 23, 2007, 04:28 PM MDT - Literacy Coaching: Coming Out of the Corner
As I struggle with my dual role of reading specialist and literacy coach, I am finding a plethora of information to help me carve out my way in this journey. In this article, many things became clear. First, coaches MUST have support over time and it must be part of the design before they are hired. The model described in the article sounded like a wonderful support system. Since I dont have that support system in place, it is important that I keep seeking out others to help me. The coaching class I am in right now is a great start. Also this website will also be very helpful in finding information I may need. Continued reflection and helping teachers begin to reflect on their practice is something that I am working on. The article gave me a reference in how to begin purposeful conversations that revolve around instruction. I was trying to help a teacher with writing this week. As we were talking, she said to me "Didn't you ever do something just for fun when you were teaching?" It made me realize I need to work on my approach. I hope that by next year I will be able to begin to make some headway with the teachers. I think if I am able to help them figure out the "why" of what they are doing we can then begin to work together in a collaborative nature.
Liz Cochran , Fri March 23, 2007, 05:57 PM MDT - Coaching Relationships
I agree with the ideas that effective coaching depends on trust between the coach and the teachers. If we think teachers will improve their teaching practices within in a trusting non-evaluative relationships, should we work to create the same environment in our classrooms for students? We are always mindful of not forcing ideas on teachers, but do we show students the same respect?
Chris Peterson , Fri March 23, 2007, 08:08 PM MDT - Coaching Relationships
I agree that building relationships based on respect and trust is necessary. In addition, administrative support and understanding of the role of the reading coach and the process of developing that role in a school is essential. A coach needs the support of a principal who has knowledge and integrity to successfully work with teachers to improve practice and increase student learning. There must be a foundation and structure in place for this type of professional development to grow as well as an established belief in reflection and continuous improvement.
Lisa Harries , Fri March 23, 2007, 08:26 PM MDT - Coaching

Many people have cited a lot of great similarities to adult learners and children. It has been interesting to read and I have jotted some notes for myself to keep the ideas fresh in my mind when coaching teachers. However, I also feel that I need to learn more specifically about adult learners so that I can further develop myself as an effective coach.

Additionally, I am reminded (through literature and research on coaching) how important it is to think about how we frame questions, prompts, probes and responses for teachers. Even in a situation that may seem insignificant, coaches have to be careful about what we say and how we say it. We don't want our communication and collegial efforts to be seen as evaluative and judgemental.

Lisa Dibble , Thu March 29, 2007, 06:52 PM MDT - What literacy coaches ought to know

I think that as a literacy coach, one of your responsibilities may be to work with the teachers at your school. In order to be effective in your job, you need to know how to reach the adults in your building. As teachers, we have all sat through staff developments that were ineffective and boring. I feel that literacy coaches need to differentiate between teaching students and teaching adults. One of the most important things to remember when teaching adults is to treat them as adults. There is nothing worse than being treated like a child when you are in a staff meeting. I do believe that adults need to be engaged in the staff development, and they need to feel their input is considered when in-services are being developed. Staff development should center around what teachers and other adults think is important and areas of need in their schools. Teachers are very pressed for time, so the literacy coach needs to be sure to honor the time commitment during staff development. I also think that hands-on, practical types of learning experiences are best. It is nice to walk away with something that you will be able to use in your classroom.
I also think it is important to have teachers set a goal or one idea they will implement in their classrooms. Staff development should also be continuous. There needs to be follow-up sessions so that teachers can express concerns and questions they might have after implementing some of the ideas. Since you want to address the needs of all learners, I would suggest some sort of visual handout they can take with them. Teachers are busy and have so much information to take in; it is nice to have a handout that will be a quick reference. I also think teachers should be given opportunities to observe others and be observed to get feedback. That being said, literacy coaches also have to be sensitive to the teachers they are working with. They should not be made to teach a lesson if they are uncomfortable with it. I also think that teachers have a lot of expertise and you should utilize the experience in your own school. Some of my most valuable learning experiences have been just listening to master teachers give tips and talk about how they teach reading, or how they motivate struggling readers. Most people are more willing to learn from someone they know. Then you also are building a culture of respect and trust among your teachers. They will know that you value their opinion and are not always looking outside of your school for "experts". You want to make professional learning as interesting and relevant as possible. Your teachers will appreciate the time and effort you made to make staff development a more meaningful experience.

Sarah Edgeworth , Tue April 03, 2007, 11:35 AM MDT -
The National Staff Development Council's goal is to have high quality professional learning for every teacher embedded in their daily work. I think this idea is very valuable. I am currently working towards my M.ED in Reading, Language and Literacy. This degree prepares us to become Reading Specialists and/or Literacy Coaches. I hope to become on in the near future. In thinking about my job as a facilitator of learning for teachers, I need to remember the job embedded part of the e NSDC's goal. As a classroom teacher, I teach all day every day. The last thing I want to do is to go sit in another long in service about something that I might or might not implement in my classroom. Instead, I have found it much more useful when my literacy coach starts a conversation with a simple “How are things going?” This enables a teacher to ask a question or voice a concern about how things are going in her classroom with her students. I am not saying that we should do away with all in services because I know that some are necessary. However, I am saying that you don’t have to have an in service to teach and learn. This can happen each and everyday through your normal work.
Doug Fisher , Wed April 04, 2007, 08:07 AM MDT - Closure
I'm leaving this forum with a significant amount of hope. There are people out there who are really thinking about teacher development through coaching. As some of your may know, the seven year "experiment" with coaching in San Diego Unified School District has ended. The school board formally ended the job description. Reading these posts makes it clear that we have a lot of work to do - defining coaches roles, organizing meaningful professional development, developing relationships - and I'm encouraged that its getting done.
Danielle Conrad , Wed April 04, 2007, 04:52 PM MDT - professional Development
I am currently taking a graduate class on being a literacy coach. In reflecting on the course, I see that literacy coaching has the potential to be the best form of professional development available. Literacy coaching is relevant to every teacher’s needs. It provides teachers the opportunity to explore and try new approaches. This form of professional development also enables teachers to share concerns in a safe environment (if it is done in a collaborative manner). Literacy coaching is also an efficient school improvement method, because you are ultimately affecting hundreds of students by working with their teachers to improve instruction. Having teachers involved in literacy coaching is also time-efficient because you don’t need to set aside a whole day because it is completed in small parts. However, I have found in schools that do not use literacy coaching for professional development feel that it might cost too much to initiate the program. Using a literacy coach would require developing a paid position. However, I am not sure that this claim is correct. Schools often paid a great deal of money to send teachers to conferences or bring in speakers. Schools pay for conference fees, teacher salary, substitute teachers and/or speakers fees. While I do not know a lot about school budgeting, I have to wonder if hiring a literacy coach will cost anymore than sending teachers to conferences or bringing speakers into the school.
Sarah Perez , Sun April 08, 2007, 12:35 PM MDT - Literacy Coaching and Professional Development
This semester in my degree program for a Masters in Reading, Language, and Literacy I am learning a tremendous amount about the role of the literacy coach and the importance of providing professional development. Prior to this semester, most of my course work has centered on working with students as a literacy leader. This is the first course that really prepares us for the duties and responsibilities associated with being a literacy coach who is expected to work with colleagues and administrators in addition to students. As a young and relatively new teacher, I sometimes struggle to find the confidence to approach other, more experienced teachers to offer my support, advice, or professional development ideas. I often worry that they will see me as a newcomer with less experience, and therefore less to offer. One of the most important things I've learned this semester is that successful literacy coaches start with an open-door policy. If I make my office and myself welcoming and available, willing teachers will approach me and use me as a resource. Then they will, in turn, be able to report to other colleagues about the positive experience and the knowledge they gained from working with the literacy coach. In this way, literacy coaches can make their way around the school and have the opportunity to work with many colleagues in a number of ways. As for developing large group or whole faculty staff development opportunities, I agree with many of the other people who have responded in this forum that the staff development programs must be interesting and short, and participants must find it worthwhile and immediately useful to them. I feel strongly that providing take-home tools like organizers, posters, notebooks, tips, and ideas is always a good way to help participants feel that they gained something from the experience. I also find it important that colleagues do not view the literacy coach as an administrator in any capacity. As soon as the literacy coach appears to have an administrative role, teachers may begin to resent his/her presence in their classrooms and may feel that they are being observed and judged. The literacy coach should assure teachers that he/she is a colleague, peer, co-worker, not an administrator or superior, in order for teachers to feel more comfortable and less scrutinized with the literacy coach's presence in their classrooms. In all roles, the literacy coach must seem available and approachable, willing to help, willing to work together, happy to be there, and optimistic about the future. These will be the traits that make the literacy coach welcome among faculty and staff, and will lead to an environment of sharing and success.
Heather DeMedio , Sun April 08, 2007, 02:30 PM MDT - Making Our Own Road...School-Based Staff Developers

As I was reading the article "Making Our Own Road" from the library link, I kept thinking what a wonderful concept (school-based staff-developers). It would be a dream come true to have support that would help us become more reflective in our instruction and planning. It would be amazing to have someone assisting us in the quest for more effective strategies to use with our students. Why won't school districts invest their time and energy into something like this?

As educators, we all analyze districts. We think of the pros and cons. We try to figure out what makes them incredibly passionate about certain endeavors and less than thrilled by other seemingly more logical ideas. With that said, the idea of having staff-developers makes so much sense. When I first started teaching, I would have LOVED to have a staff-developer to bounce ideas off of or collaborate with on lesson planning. If a district is following the rules in PA, a new teacher is observed 4 times a year during the induction and/or pretenure stage. Once tenured, the school is required to observe a teacher at least once a year. So after three years of teaching, are we veterans? I have been teaching for six years and certainly don't know everything there is to know about teaching literacy.

If schools really wanted to make choices that would be positively impacting teachers and students for years to come, they would fully support the idea of having staff-developers. I say fully support because I think that a multi-year plan would have to be put in place to guarantee that a district would stick with the idea and see it through the initial rocky phases. There are growing pains with all school-wide and district-wide adjustments, but I for one would really love to have the support of a staff-developer.

The article I read was referencing schools in Long Beach, California. Has anyone had the opportunity to work in a school with staff-developers? If so, what did you think? Was the school supportive of the position(s)?

Mary Huysman , Mon April 09, 2007, 08:03 PM MDT - Adults teaching adults--where to start?

It's something I've been nervous about since my first principal asked me to teach my department what I learned at an NCTE conference. I was the youngest in my department by far, and she wanted me to train my colleagues?! I was terrified! I was a second-year teacher--what did I know? I took a big gulp, made a few copies, and muddled through as best I could, knowing nothing about training colleagues. Now, with eight years of teaching English under my belt, and a semester of my Ed. S. degree in reading, literacy and language, I’m learning that it doesn’t have to be a scary process. I’ve learned that with some preparation and a lot of listening, giving professional development can be successful and productive. Keep up the Visibility and Listen: I’ve learned to spend a lot of time listening to what my colleagues concerns are. Copy rooms, teacher lounges, hall duty posts and post faculty meeting rooms can all be invaluable to a teacher-leader. In between classes a few weeks ago, a first year teacher complained to me (across our portable decks) that only half of her class turned in rough drafts of their latest essay, and only two or three of those were even acceptable. I offered to take those few working essays and put them on a transparency for her to show the class and elicit a conversation about why they worked, and then allow the students to rework their own drafts. She tried it, and came back glowing at the results. Because I listened to her, I was able to give her what she needed to increase her students’ success. If, as a literacy leader, I spend a considerable percentage of my time among my colleagues and listening to the concerns of my fellow faculty members, I can provide the appropriate information and resources available for them. Get Together: After listening and collecting data on what the concerns are, offering professional development on a voluntary basis is essential. This year, the faculty at my school has had to attend mandatory training at least twice a month, and half of those were during our planning time. It didn’t matter that the content of the training was of high quality and very applicable to all classrooms; the teachers resented being forced to come to it; myself included. I love the idea of a study group. Starting with a small group of teachers who know and trust you, asking those teachers what they want to learn about, and then choosing books together based on those desires absolutely shows purposeful and authentic leadership. Be Patient: I imagine that this job demands a lot of patience of myself and others. I can see some others not accepting my leadership immediately. By starting small with those who already know and trust you, you can build participation by positive word of mouth. I believe these are all great places to start, and I look forward to trying them out in the future.

Karen Phillips , Mon April 09, 2007, 08:32 PM MDT - How to reach adult learners?
I think that the most important thing to remember when working with your peers is how to meet their needs. On occasion we hear from our students, “Why do we have to learn this?” Teachers often feel the same way. When we choose school-wide or even system-wide programs to implement, we are neglecting the individual needs of our teachers. When we teach, we try to meet the individual needs of our students, and I believe that the same goes when teaching adults. My goal as I move into a position where I will have more of a say about professional development is to begin by assessing the individual needs of our staff. By having my peers complete a survey of professional development wants and taking suggestions, I can hopefully target those who want the help, and then work to find the resources and the time to help them accomplish their goals. I can also begin to form small study groups, based on interest, that can work together to accomplish the instructional goals they have for their classrooms. From what I have experienced at my school, it is clear that those teachers who do not think they need help will not really try out anything new, so my goal here is to draw people in based on their interests and wants and hopefully expand from there. It is hard to require more from teachers than what they already do. But, by showing them that their voice matters in terms of what we will study in professional development, maybe I can find a way to reach more of the staff than I would by teaching to the middle. Also, by showing the staff that part of my job is simply to be there for them, and that my door is truly open, I will hopefully have more support from those who normally would not participate. As I learned from Jennifer Allen, by just finding a way to get them into your room, you can slowly begin to help out different teachers than normally seek out help. In creating a trusting environment, where there is a shared partnership for learning, I believe that I will be able to reach many more of my peers at school.
V.Rochelle Thompson , Tue April 10, 2007, 08:02 PM MDT - How to teach adult learners?
Being a young teacher, I sometimes feel intimdates by the fact that I lack the experience that many teachers in my school have. Although I am continuing my education, I am always eager to share my ideas; however, I often get negative feedback because of these ideas by my co-workers. I really don't mean to be controlling, yet I see a major need for change. We have several new programs in the schools, which are constantly being updated by technology, games, and visual affects, which makes our books seems boring and less attractive. I see the same in some of our adult teachers. Some of the ideas may work; however, we must find methods that will help give this information to our students in ways that they understand and enjoy. Some adults find this transition difficult, however if this will cause change then it is necessary. If we can make this transition in our professional development classes by making the sessions informative and exciting, then we may be able to bridge this gap with our students. This is the type of relevant teaching that our students need to be exposed to in order to make meaning of their learning.
Gena Tokar , Wed April 11, 2007, 11:38 AM MDT - Teaching Adult Learners
I have five years experience as a substitute teacher, while I have held several long term positions, I do not feel that I have obtained the status to be offering suggestions to other teachers about how they could better their teaching. You have to develop a good rapport with the teachers and hope that they will be allow you to observe their teaching and offer suggestions.
Kristi Tomayko , Wed April 11, 2007, 12:03 PM MDT - Teaching Adult Learners
I'm writing this in response to Gena Tokar's addition to the forum. I can definitely relate to feeling a bit uncomfortable about offering teachers suggestions as to how they can become better teachers. I am currently doing a coaching cycle with the kindergarten teacher at my school. I always get nervous when it comes to the part where I offer her suggestions about how she might improve instruction- and she's even one of my good friends outside of school, so you think I'd be really comfortable doing this! I've found that she's really open to my suggestions and trusts my input because we have developed such a great rapport. Without a respectful relationship and good rapport, I don't think reading coaches could do their job effectively. I've been teaching for four years now and will be done with my master's in May. While I now feel way more confident in my abilities as a teacher and as a reading coach, I'm always the first to admit that there is still a lot I don't know. I've learned as much from my partner in this coaching cycle as she has learned from me! In my opinion, that's one of the best parts of being a reading coach!
Shawanna Berry , Wed April 11, 2007, 05:59 PM MDT - Confidence for young literacy leaders when teaching adult learners
I can also identify with being a young professional in a leadership role. Your biggest fear is not being taken seriously. Someone once gave me some very valuable advice and it stuck with me. You have worked hard, studied, and built a knowledge base. You have something important to share. You have information that is useful and worthwhile. Don’t be afraid to share it. In my opinion, it is all about how you present the information. Stand by your pedagogy, have passion in the theories that drive your practice and present yourself as a valuable resource. If you provide your suggestions and feedback in a non-evaluative, non-threatening, and helpful way, then you will be received well. People will see your desire to affect change, your passion behind what you stand for, and no one will question your sincerity or your proficiency. Your role as a literacy leader will be welcomed, support, and appreciated.
Erika Shavulsky , Wed April 11, 2007, 07:42 PM MDT - Professional Development Opportunities
Every district is required to have professional development opportunities for their paid professionals. How many of you have less than ideal professional development programs? Even a better question may be how many staff members have an active role in deciding what professional development programs would best benefit their schools? In 1993, a professional development survey revealed that the most important aspect of professional development was to improve student achievement. In most professional development sessions, the focus on student achievement is masked by teacher’s displeasure in sitting through yet another day-long lecture. Having access to staff-developers that are devoted to developing the staff and students within your own school, based on your current situation would be such a nice change. Even within the same district, schools have a variety of needs. If schools had access to staff developers they would be more likely to place focus back on to student’s needs and achievement rather than continue to be caught up in professional developments current negative reputation.
Erika Shavulsky , Wed April 11, 2007, 07:54 PM MDT - Hats Off to Risk Takers
Many of you have posted about the trepidation many adults have in learning or trying new concepts. All of us have been in situations where we are forced out of our comfort zones. Trying new things always risks failure. However, how many times have failures turned into success stories? In every failure there is such an opportunity for growth. I have learned far more through attempting new things and risking failure than by only teaching what I have found to be successful. The best educational professionals have been those who risked everything, and if nothing else, they have gained the knowledge of what to try and what not to try again. We are all taking a risk posting our responses for others to read. “What is they don’t like my opinions?” “What if I am wrong about something?” Regardless of those fears, you still post, and just think of all you have gained from this single risk. I thank all of you for opening my eyes to all the potential the field of education has for us “risk takers”.
Kim Deceder , Sun April 15, 2007, 10:58 AM MDT - Response to Erika - Hats Off to Risk Takers
I agree with Erika. Good educators are willing to take risks and try new ideas, even if they are not yet proven successful. It is very easy to stick with what is comfortable and traditional. However, good teachers are willing to go beyond what is routine and try different things. I am not saying that teachers who operate in the traditional and comfortable realm are not good. I am saying that to find something better, we have to be willing to go out of our comfort zone and take a risk sometimes.
Denise Shumsky , Sun April 15, 2007, 01:01 PM MDT - Resource Collection
As stated since the beginning of the semester, Literay Coaches must have great communication skills. Communication must be open between teachers,parents, students and administators. ALong with communication, there also must be interaction. Literacy coaches can interact with students and teachers to find resources that would be interesting and valuable for both instructional and free time. Reading is very important. I totally agree that when when books and /or reading sources are matched to students' interests and abilities student reading time will increase. If reading specialists and coaches are aware of the reading needs of their teachers and students, a variety of materials can be pulled and ready and accessible. I have noticed in my classroom that even the most reluctant readers are beginning to read books more. At the beginning of the year, I gave an interest inventory survey to the students and asked what their interests were. I have a good idea what interests the students. So, when I am able to buy books, I look for books that interest my students and place them on the book rack in my reading corner. Students seem to go back there and see if anything new has been added. I try to purschase different kinds of genre to interest many different levels and different interests. As a Literacy coach, I think that assessing the needs of the students and staff is a great place to start to build reading motivation in students.
jennifer spence , Sun April 15, 2007, 04:37 PM MDT - Professional Development

I have experienced involvement in being a participant in professional development workshops and have recently learned more about the planning of a professional development workshop. As a participant, I always hated feeling like I was wasting my time because the subject matter really didn't pertain to me or that the suggestions they were making weren't realistic. I have recently been to a great workshop and I believe that I enjoyed it so much because the speaker seemed thoroughly excited about the subject matter, he was very knowledgeable, and he provided me with a packet of information and instruction that I was able to put into practice the following day. I have used almost everything that he suggested at some point with the classes I am teaching this semester with great success. One thing that this workshop did not provide, that I have recently learned is essential to the success of a professional development training, was follow-up. Having the opportunity to ask questions, get clarification, and share successes and failures is essential.

Cece Tillman , Mon April 16, 2007, 07:30 AM MDT - Teaching Adult Learners
One thing that has helped me as I have worked with teachers who may have more years' experience than me is to keep the focus on student learning. If I am working with a teacher to problem solve about students who aren't successful in the teacher's classroom, he/she is more willing to listen. It is an attitude of "What can I do to help you help this student?" This removes some of the fear of the teacher, and gives a common focus for dialogue. Then, perhaps it will be possible to make generalizations that will help other students in the classroom.
Jennie Virgin , Mon April 16, 2007, 06:27 PM MDT - Teaching Adult Learners
An important aspect of the role of a literacy coach is that we can have the eyes and ears for the classroom teachers in our school. I have often found that, despite my supposed level of expertise on any one subject or teaching practice, once I engage in conversation with others about the topic, the ideas for teaching it are endless. In busy schools, it is so difficult for Teacher A to really know what Teacher B is doing in her classroom, even though it is right next-door. And despite a principal's desire to have teachers observe one another, that does not always work out easily. I see one of the wonderful things about being a literacy coach is to let teachers know the wealth of information and expertise available in their very schol building. I have presented ESOL strategies in faculty meetings by saying, for example, "Teacher A does this modification when teaching a new spelling lesson." This way, the classroom teachers can see it is a possibility for them to do, Teacher A's confidence is renewed and in a small way multiple teachers have collaborated.
alexa contes , Tue April 17, 2007, 08:03 PM MDT - Professional Development
I just finished reading the article, Transformative Professional Development: Negotiating Knowledge with an Inquiry Stance. I found this article to be very informative. SCRI is a multi-year professional development program. This program believes that knowledgeable teachers are at the heart of literacy achievement in the classroom. The educators who are participating in this program meet with the literacy coach on a monthly basis. They then begin to analyze and reconstruct their teaching in order to enable the students to show more growth. In this program it is the literacy coach’s job to help the educators make decisions that will have the most impact on their students. The literacy coach helps the educators to help define their practices and refine their belief systems. The educators and the literacy coach work as a teaching team to learn and help to better one another’s teaching practices. This program allows the literacy coach to serve as a guide while allowing the educators to make their own decisions about literacy.
alexa contes , Tue April 17, 2007, 08:30 PM MDT - Professional Development Response 2
After reading the article entitled, Reading Corner for Educators: Professional Development for Teachers, I found that all three book reviews had a common theme. All three books suggest that teachers are the essential ingredient in a child’s education and progress. In order to make educators more knowledgeable, a new emphasis has been placed on professional development. In order for this to happen, the books state that collaboration between administration and educators is key. They also state that it’s time that teachers are valued. These books also remind us that professional development is not a “one-step,” “quick fix”. Collaboration takes time, open-mindedness and effort from all parties. Teamwork is essential for everyone involved.
Joshua Mull , Thu April 19, 2007, 10:48 AM MDT - Teaching Adults: Equal Respect

One thing we should remember as professionals and coaches is that colleagues and adult learners need to be on common ground for true growth and learning to take place. I have noticed that several instructors at the graduate level have taken this approach. For example, they request to be addressed by their first names, rather than Dr.

I have tremendous respect for these people and have learned more from them over the years than from other instructors. These instructors are easy to approach and have been a great wealth of knowledge. In turn, out of the respect they have shown me, as a learner, I still address them with the title they deserve. In short, (and excuse the metaphor) treat people as your equal and be there as a fountain of knowledge. Allow those to drink who wish, because if you shower them with your knowledge most of it will just run off!

Alisha White , Thu April 19, 2007, 06:07 PM MDT - Hands on!

One thing I have found frustrating in professional development is that for all the talk about students’ individual learning styles and needs, when it comes time for the teachers to learn new ideas, Gardner gets thrown out the window. The best workshops I have been to incorporate the theories of the workshop INTO the workshop to give teachers a hands-on experience. So, in a workshop on the importance of movement in learning, the leaders actually gave us movement breaks throughout the 3-hour evenings.

Another thing about teachers is that we are always short on planning time and long on to do lists. We get frustrated in professional development when we can’t see how to implement the new information into our daily teaching. A good workshop provides time for teachers to reflect and discuss how the new information can be used immediately. In the workshop already mentioned, they provided time at the beginning of each session for teachers to talk in small groups about what needs they saw in their classroom for the topic of the evening. After the new information was presented, they had us get back into our groups and discuss how we could use the new technique to fill the needs discussed and then provided time for us to journal about how we planned on implementing the new techniques.

Alisha White

jennifer spence , Sun April 22, 2007, 05:19 PM MDT - Response to Jessica Hudec
I agree with what Jessica is saying about teachers not wanted to hear criticism. I think that often times, that is hard for anyone to hear with regard to any subject. The fact that this is a matter to be handled delicately is probably obvious for those Literacy Coaches who wish to establish a positive and productive working relationship with teachers. I know many people who feel as though they do not have time for the "touchy feely" aspect of working with people, but the extra effort can really make all the difference in the world.
Kim Deceder , Wed April 25, 2007, 11:56 AM MDT - Response to Cece Tillman's comments
Cece Tillman gave an excellent suggestion to help reading specialists who are working with adult colleagues. I believe that her suggestion will be especially helpful when working with teachers who have more experience, or who are reluctant to take advice. She suggested that when working with other teachers, we should focus on the student problems, rather than on the teacher’s style and approach. Therefore, the teacher may be more open to suggestions because the focus is off of their teaching and directed at the student problems. This approach should keep the teacher from feeling defensive and that his/her teaching is being criticized. The teacher should be more cooperative and likely to change as a result of the experience. Cece provided such a wonderful suggestion that is so simple, but is often overlooked!
Jaime Harkins , Thu April 26, 2007, 03:11 PM MDT -
I agree with the idea that when working with other teachers, we should focus on the student problems, rather than on the teacher’s style and approach in order to hopefully create a less threatening learning environment for teachers. While working on the practicum part of my current graduate course, through discussions, I have found that many teachers find the idea of having a literacy coach in the school as a threat. There is currently not a coach in this school. Many adults may feel that if they are being coached that they are not doing an adequate job already. However, I am working with a teacher who does a wonderful job teaching reading. When I spoke to my professor, I asked how I am supposed to coach a teacher who does not need it. She has made me aware that coaching is not always for improving another teacher’s performance but can be to offer new strategies and resources to make the job easier for the teacher. Working with ALL teachers in the school may create a more acceptable less threatening environment for a reading coach to work in. It seems that adults can be more threatened by any situated where they are being evaluated than children are.
kelly cahall , Sun April 29, 2007, 11:59 AM MDT -
I definately agree that reading coaches should approach teacher improvement as a way to meet students' needs. Like everyone else, I feel that teachers in my building would be very resistant to a reading coach "interfering" with their instruction. If our district ever does decide to hire reading coaches, it will take time for teachers to get used to the idea. I only hope that I will be receptive to a reading coach helping me. I will need to remember that a coach is not there to necessarily fix problems but to offer advice. A good teacher is always looking for ways to improve instruction.
Jessica Hudec , Sun April 29, 2007, 12:38 PM MDT - What teachers want with regards to professional development...

I recently completed my professional development project (a graduate course requirement for reading certification). During my presentation, I modeled for the teacher's what specific literacy instruction should look like. All of the teacher's commented in my evaluation that this was VERY helpful to their instruction. Also, I provided teachers with lesson ideas, projects, and books to go along with the lessons. Again, all of the teachers commented how great it was to have useful classroom activities that they could immediately use in their classroom.

Bottom line is, teachers want to know how they can effectively teach reading to their students, but they also need to be taught (or shown) how to do it. Most professional development courses give us handouts with research, but they don't give us the practical end of how to actually go about teaching it in our classroom.

Erika Shavulsky , Wed May 02, 2007, 05:35 PM MDT - Professional Development
I completely agree with Jessica’s above comments. Teachers do want to teach effectively, yet they do not always know how to teach effectively. This can be learned through a series of workshops or modeled situations. My professional development project asked teachers to conquer their fear of technology, and begin using it in daily instruction. The general consensus was that teachers do want to use technology in the classroom, yet they are unsure of how to effectively use the resources available in their daily instruction. By providing multiple links to sites where they can assess and practice basic language arts skills with their students, they were opened to an entirely new way of reviewing everyday reading concepts. When this process was modeled, they felt much more comfortable than trying to navigate through the sites themselves. All teachers work hard, but there is a difference between working hard and working smart. Those teachers who work hard feel as if they never have enough time to fit everything in and are overwhelmed by new suggestions. Teachers who work smart are flexible to changes and cut out “unnecessary work” which frees up time for other endeavors. Instead of focusing on how hard we work as educators, we can streamline that hard work by working smart.
Laura Mumaw , Wed May 02, 2007, 08:33 PM MDT - professional development
I agree with Jessica that teachers want to see concrete examples of how a new strategy will fit into their existing teaching styles. I completed my professional development workshop on a writing strategy called Four Square. I showed the teachers exactly how it fit into the prewriting stage of the writing process. I received a great deal of positive feedback from teachers, saying that the strategy would be easy to teach and implement, while greatly improving their students’ writing. The teachers left the workshop equipped with handouts and ready made graphic organizers. I have already had several teachers tell me that they have tried the strategy and liked it! Teachers want to have clear cut strategies that they can easily apply to their own classrooms. This helps to make professional development effective.
Kim Deceder , Tue May 08, 2007, 07:29 AM MDT - Laura - professional development

I agree with both Jessica and Laura. Professional development workshops are more successful when the teachers see concrete examples of new strategies. They are able to adapt them to their lessons after they see demonstrations of how the strategy works. It is also helpful to supply the teachers with handouts and resources to use in their own lessons, as well as follow-up support.

Laura pointed out that teachers gave her positive feedback after her professional development session and some said that they tried the strategies in their own classrooms and liked it. That is awesome! So often, teachers leave training sessions with great ideas, but no real understanding of how they can turn the ideas into concrete lessons in their own class. It looks like Laura was very successful in modeling how to use her strategies effectively in other classes.

Heather DeMedio , Wed May 09, 2007, 12:00 PM MDT - Professional Development

I can really relate to what Jessica and Erika said in their comments. Teachers really do want to walk away from a professional development experience with something that is applicable to their classroom and something that can be implemented without too much stress. Change is not always easy, and as Jessica mentioned, most teachers just need to see how something can be done effectively through modeling.

I loved Erika's comment on working hard vs. working smart. I have had many discussions with my principal around the idea of "teaching smart." Teaching smart simply goes along with working smart. It is done when teachers use resources and collaborate about what is best for students. Instead of trying to cover each item on a syllabus, teachers that teach smart would develop activities that incorporate multiple state standards and skills into a meaningful experience. I just really enjoyed her theory and found it to be very true.

Heather DeMedio , Wed May 09, 2007, 12:50 PM MDT - Response to Alisha White...Hands On!!!

I have to agree with Alisha's comment on the level of participation in a professional development session. For some reason, teachers are great at remembering how to work with students, but when working with adults, they expect us to enjoy staying in our seats for 8 hours without more than a few 15-minute breaks.

I had the pleasure of doing a professional development session with three of my colleagues for a countywide in-service day held in October 2005. One of the most important components of our presentation was allowing the participants to practice using the technology that we discussed and answering their questions as they were navigating the software. It is crucial for presenters to remind themselves what they don't like about presentations as they begin to plan them.

Typically, my favorite professional development is usually related to math because I have had many opportunities to use manipulatives and go through the learning experiences that my students will go through. I think that is so beneficial.

Kristi Parker , Tue May 22, 2007, 03:36 PM MDT - Qualifications for Literacy Coaches: Achieving the Gold Standard
After reading this article I felt both educated and intrigued. Prior to the beginning of the class I am currently taking at Slippery Rock University, I did not know that there was a difference between a reading specialist and a reading coach. Perhaps because I have heard these terms used interchangeably in many instances. I was interested to see the number qualifications required for the “gold standard” literacy coach. To use the terms reading specialist and reading coach interchangeably is completely inaccurate. The “gold standard” literacy coach needs so much more than what a reading specialist does to get started. I was also intrigued by reasons for not hiring a particular reading coach. I see this type of decision occurring in many programs and it is disheartening.
Kristi Parker , Sat May 26, 2007, 03:04 PM MDT - Understanding the role of a leader
Something to take into consideration when taking part in professional development is the role of a leader in literacy coaching. Literacy coaches have to be a leader, but they also need to be effective leaders. This can be difficult depending on how the teachers perceive the literacy coach. I feel that is is important for classroom teachers to be provided with what the role of a literacy coach is so that they do not feel threatened. It would be easy to feel like the literacy coach is coming into your classroom to tell you what you are doing wrong when this is really not the case. It is also the role of the literacy coach to approach teachers in a supportive way so that they do not feel like they are being scrutinized. This could easily be avoided with information in advance as to why the literacy coach is there and what they are there to do.
Sarah Merante , Sun May 27, 2007, 09:07 AM MDT - Understanding the role of a leader
I have to admit I also did not know the difference between a reading specialist and a reading coach. So many times they've been used interchangeably. It concerns me that I've been in this reading program and studying it, and I've just found out the true difference. So if I'm in school for this type of work, then how many other teachers are unaware of what this position is. I think this is becoming a new field, many schools need inservice on this new idea, especially schools that currently have a literacy coach. I wish our middle school had a literacy coach. I always have questions and being young, would fully embrace someone coming in to help me and give me ideas.
Amanda Weaver , Tue May 29, 2007, 09:44 AM MDT - Qualifications for Literacy Coaches: Achieving the Gold Standard

This article was repetitive in what I have been reading for the 629 class at SRU. I feel that the most important component to becoming a reading coach is the ability to be a good leader. Being a good leader will allow one to be approachable and take the initiative to do what is right. A good leader is also repected and willing to go the extra mile to make a program effective. I also think it is important that a coach has teaching experience. I am a special education teacher and I taught reading my first year of teaching and I still teach reading. However, if I knew what I know now, I would have taught reading much differently. So, being able to show that you have had experience teaching will help teachers to become comfortable with a coach which will reflect how one could become successful at the job.

Amanda Weaver , Mon June 11, 2007, 07:59 AM MDT - Literacy Coaching: Coming out of the corner

This article in the library section made some very good points about what an appropriate model for coaching looks like at the middle and high school levels. In particular this one comment made about what the authors believe about middle and high school coaches "involes a focus on developing a thorough understanding of the teaching cycle: this means helping teachers to learn to assess all students in a classroom in every content area taught; to use that assessment data to evaluate the different needs of students; and to then appropriately plan instruction, and select materials for that instruction, based on the assessed needs of each and every student." Wow! This is so important for teachers at this level to understand. I teach at the high school level and this is only my fourth year of teaching. I am still trying to get this process down. I learn something new every year. I think that some teachers don't know where to start, so they keep doing what they do every year without even assessing the students to see where to begin.

Joni Kostelnik , Wed June 20, 2007, 08:08 AM MDT - Becoming a Literacy Coach

After reading and researching many articles regarding reading and literacy coaching, I think the most difficult job for a new literacy coach is gaining respect from the teachers. Many teachers become set in their ways and continue to teach the same exact lessons for 30 years. They only have one year of experience repeated 30 times (as Dr. Rose would say). I find this disheartening. Each year a new group of students come to your classroom with many different backgrounds and abilities. Courses should change from year to year.

After observing and reading about literacy coaching, the job itself seems like an incredibly chaotic occupation. So much is required of the coach, that I think many feel overwhelmed. I worked with one literacy coach recently who was at school until 11:30 at night. This was her fist year, but it was also the last week of school when things should die down somewhat. Yet she continued to work her heart out, making sure to meet the demands of both teachers and students--and she did it all with a smile on her face.

One way to gain respect is to have successful experience behind you. If teachers are aware that you already taught for 5-10 years and did an exeptional job, then they are more willing to accept your role. I also feel that teachers need to realize the literacy coach is available to assist, not criticize. Being positive with all teachers and letting them know what you see them doing well is a great way to start. Introduce small strategies or lessons that will be easy to incorporate into their particular classroom. Many times we need to start small before we can build to bigger and better things.

Joni Kostelnik , Wed June 20, 2007, 08:23 AM MDT - Professional Development

After reading the article by Fu, Fang, Lamme, Eisenber, and Ranklin entitled "Professional Development for Teachers", it was clear that several things should be taken into account when providing PD for teachers. First of all, they list and discuss several books to help districts get started with PD. One such book by Larner, suggested incorporating small study groups, reflecting on lessons and ideas, and creating long term goals. These are three very important ideas for PD. Not only should teachers create long-term goals, but they should also be reminded of these goals periodically to keep them on track. Goals are only useful if you incorporate them into student learning.

Another idea concerning the above suggestions is that districts need to provide enough time for teachers to accomplish these goals. If you want teachers to form and use study groups, then they need the time together to incorporate their ideas and exchange thoughts. Unfortunately, I don't know too many teachers who are willing to stay after school for an hour to complete these tasks.

Amy Dickson , Thu June 21, 2007, 08:15 AM MDT - Literacy Coach
I agree with Joni's response that one of the most difficult tasks for a literacy coach is gaining respect and creating a rapport with teachers. If any of you literacy coaches out there are reading this, what are some tips that helped you get through that task??? As someone who is still a substitute teacher, I hope that when I get my first full time job that there is a literacy coach to help me along the way--what more could you ask for?!?! However, I realize that there are some teachers who would not be acceptable to that; especially when they have been there years longer than the literacy coach. I would love to hear from some of the literacy coaches and read about what they feel is the most demanding/rewarding part of their jobs--first years or otherwise!!
Amy Odorczyk , Thu June 21, 2007, 08:36 PM MDT - Building rapport as a Literacy Coach
I also agree with both Joni and Amy's posting. I teach at a high school were the idea and concept of a Literacy Coach is foregin to many teachers. A majority of the teachers at my school are older and very set in their ways. As a special education teacher I am constantly dealing with teachers who are unwilling to make the necessary changes to meet individual student needs. I am afraid that if our school was given the opportunity to have a Literacy Coach, many of them may not support the idea. I would also like to know how all of you Literacy Coaches out there have made connections with even your most stubborn teachers!!!
Amanda Weaver , Tue July 03, 2007, 07:23 AM MDT - Sharing Leadership to improve student learning
After reading this article, I believe that it is so important to have great leadership within the school. It all starts with the principal and then the literacy coach needs to also be a leader to provide teachers with support and materials. I really found the part in the article about principals doing walk-throughs in school to be a great way for not only the students to get to know the principal, but also for the principals to observe student learning. The principal and reading coach then could colaborate on the things they observe and start to develop a literacy team.
Kathy Rombach , Thu July 05, 2007, 03:15 PM MDT - Literacy Coach
After reading through a couple of the articles in the library section of this site and reading through some of your responses, it is clear that there needs to be a clearly defined description of a literacy coach and their tasks in each individual school. I think that it would be beneficial for the principal and literacy coach to set up a morning meeting at the beginning of the year to introduce the literacy coach, their job description, and what to expect. If everyone is involved upfront and is in understandment of the literacy coach, then I think that many complications can be avoided in the literacy coach's and teacher's relationships. Letting the teachers know that the coach is there to support, assist, and collaborate on literacy goals for effective instruction to reach all students then I don't see what the problem would be. However, I personally am open for suggestions about instruction, but I know that you will still probably have some teachers that are hestitant toward this process. In the article by Dole, "What am I supposed to do all day?", he states three big ideas for the reading coach that I found simple and beneficial to rely upon. He also discussed building rapport with teachers. An idea he gave was to go into the classroom and begin working with the students one-on-one or in small groups to begin to foster and understanding of the teacher's classroom environment. You will begin to know the students as well as the teacher's philosophy of teaching to better prepare you to work with and approach the teacher about various strategies and instructional approaches. Doing this would benefit you as a new coach, the students, and the teachers. Building relationships will help to come up with mutual goals to work towards as a team.
Amanda Weaver , Fri July 06, 2007, 12:37 PM MDT - Study Groups
Throughout my readings for my graduate class, I have come across more than once mention of study groups as a way to professionally develop teachers. It is very important for literacy coaches to know how adults learn and study groups would be a great way to inhance adult learning. In my district I wish we had a literacy coach to implement this because reading about it sounds like it is so effective, not to mention, fun. Getting together with other collegues to talk about teaching and new ideas (along with eating!!) would not only be beneficial to the profession, but to the students as well. When one actually has time to sit down and read an article, reflect on it, and discuss it with fellow teacher, one could learn so much in a short amount of time. As teachers we should be life long learners and one way we could do that is by facilitating or joining a study group.
Kristi Parker , Sun July 08, 2007, 12:58 PM MDT - Professional Development
I recently held a short presentation for my fellow teachers regarding informal reading inventories. Many of these teachers have no background in reading beyond what they received in their undergraduate studies, yet as special education teachers are expected to report on progress for reading goals. What I found is that many of them had a vague idea of what reading fluency is and how to collect data, but did not truly understand the variety of tools that are out there, even beyond an IRI. It is so important that a literacy coach is available in each school to complete such workshops. I am not a literacy coach, I am currently working towards my reading certification so what I bring to the table is helpful but not as informational as what a literacy coach with years of experience could bring to this group of teachers. Unfortunately in my particular case, this tool is not available to us. The group of teachers I work with would benefit highly from a literacy coach who could work with us in cycles and an added benefit is how receptive I know this group of teachers would be.
Kirstin Sheppard , Fri July 13, 2007, 10:23 AM MDT -
I think that being a literacy coach can be a complicated position because you need to build rapport with all teachers to develop and trusting relationship, but then you're also asked to give teach workshops and hold study groups. As Amanda said, it seems that strong leadership is key to making this balance work for a reading coach. If a principal clearly defines his or her role and the role of the reading coach, there should be no overlap of roles. When principals expect their reading coaches to act as an administrator, that takes away trust between teachers and the reading coach. Teachers will be less likely to share their concerns with a reading coach who is seen as an administrator because teachers don't want to share their insecurities with anyone in an administrative position. Reading specialists will have the most influence on student learning when teachers feel comfortable sharing their thoughts with the coach and being open to learning from the coach.
Beth LaGamba , Fri July 13, 2007, 01:26 PM MDT - Learning Communities and Adult Learners
I enjoyed reading Cobb's article, "Literacy Teams: Sharing Leadership to Improve Student Learning," from the Reading Teacher and posted in the library section of this site. It describes a way in which the principal, reading specialists/coaches, and teachers can create a professional group who will work together to discuss/solve literacy related issues as well as bring new ideas and professional development to the staff. I think this is an excellent idea because of the way adults learn. Adults in general and teachers specifically are not usually very open to being talked at or lectured. Adults need to feel respected and valued as professionals before they will be open to any new ideas. Adults also want to have the opportunity to give their input into decisions that will affect them. I think creating learning communities and teams is an excellent way to show teachers the respect they deserve while bringing out their collaborative cooperative spirit.
Amy VanIddekinge , Sat July 14, 2007, 01:39 PM MDT -

After reading through the Literacy Coaches Survival Guide, I think the role of a Literacy Coach is one of bridging the goals of the district with the goals of the teachers. There seems to be a river that flows between the two camps. I think the role of a coach is to truely know the districts goals and teachers goals so that everyone is getting their needs met.
I think there is also a preconceived notion that teachers who do not accept change will not change...I do not believe that to be true. Change is a hard and a lot of work, even in our personal lives. There are a lot of personality types that are comfortable with not changing anything! Teachers with those personality types may just take longer to process, accept and commit to the change. Kind of like some of our students, the ones who just cannot get the skill the first time it is taught. As teachers we would not give up on that student, so as Literacy Coaches we should have the same patience, understanding and love for those teachers who just do not get it the first, tenth or hundreth time. Persistance, patience and understanding should be the backbone of us as Literacy Coaches!!!!

Kathy Rombach , Sun July 22, 2007, 11:21 AM MDT - Working Relationships
With continuing reading and discussions with other teachers that are working towards their reading specialist certificate, I have learned a lot about the adoption of a literacy coach in schools. Many people I know that have attempted to coach a teacher through a cycle in the literacy coaching process have different experiences…some good and some bad! Some teachers are willing to try anything new with their students to help them and to motivate them in the reading process, while others are not. Some teachers have stuck to the same old routine that they are use to and they don’t feel as though they need to change. But the only people that this attitude hurts are the students. Literacy coaching in districts needs to be presented and accepted openly by the people involved…principals, teachers, and coaches. Coaches need to present themselves as a resource to help the students and the teachers with new inventive ways to present literacy information. I believe that the relationship between principal, teachers, and coaches needs to be a give and take with ideas, concerns, time, and support.
Kirstin Sheppard , Mon July 23, 2007, 10:19 AM MDT -
I agree with Amy and Kathy that teachers need to accept change, although it might take longer for some teachers to change. It seems like the key to making change happen is a persistent, yet patient and understanding reading coach, and a caring principal who wants to see positive change that benefits the students. If teachers are given professional development with useful tips and strategies, and the principal looks for these new strategies during observations, teachers will be much more likely to change. Sometimes teachers are like students because we don't do something unless we're accountable for it.
Brenna Sisinni , Wed July 25, 2007, 12:51 PM MDT - Gold Standard
I was frightened to learn when reading the article "Achieving the Gold Standard" the reality of the mad dash to fill literacy coaching positions. It seems that many school districts are hiring literacy coaches that are not "good enough" or qualified for the position. It also seems to me that there is not an awareness among administrators regarding qualifications and job criteria. A literacy coach should be required to hold a certificate that ensures they have "gold standard" or at least "good enough" qualifications. If teachers are hired without the proper qualifications and fail, then this position is going to get a bad rap. This in return will fail to put a demand on school districts to hire literacy coaches, which when done properly would be an invaluable asset to a school distrct. It also seems to me that "gold standard" literacy coaches should be compensated for what they bring to the table. After all, they have experience, require additional schooling, are a leader, and must be very resilient. Maybe this would help to entice "comfortable" veteran teachers to venture out and share their knowledge.
Joni Kostelnik , Fri July 27, 2007, 08:42 AM MDT - Support from teachers

As I read the above mentioned article (Riddle-Buly, M., Coskie, T., Robinson, L, and Egawa, K. (2006). Literacy Coaching:Coming out of the corner. Voices from the Middle, 13, 24-28.), I began thinking of inclusion. I teach middle school learning support and for much of my day, I work with regular education teachers in an inclusion setting. Some of these teachers are very eager to have me teach, while others allow me sit on the "sidelines" and observe class--similar to a paraprofessional. I definitely did not go into the profession of special education to sit and watch, while someone else teaches. It can be a very frustrating time for me. I feel the more support that can be given to teachers, the more impact they will have on students. Many of the teachers I work with only care that the students get the work done. It doesn't really matter if they learn or not. It becomes a battle between myself and the students. We try and try to get the work accomplished, but it's truly pointless because the students are learning little, if anything. It's also very apparent to me that many teachers don't want the very low learning support students in their classes. They try at all costs to have them sent to my room to get the worksheets done.

I simply feel that the more support the administration, teachers, and paraprofessionals can give to literacy coaches, the easier their job will be and the more the students will achieve. After all, isn't that why we all teach? The students should be our top priority, not the paycheck!

Sarah Merante , Fri July 27, 2007, 03:05 PM MDT - Support from Teaches/ Focusing on Learners with special needs
I agree with Joni about having to "sit on the sidelines" while co-teaching. I am also a special education teacher who often gets pushed aside when entering anothers classroom. I feel I am qualified to teach all students, but in other's rooms the teachers want the work finished and do not adapt to the students' needs. Also, reading Robinson's article about focusing on learners with special needs, I felt similar to the teacher who commented she sometimes felt like a teacher's aide. Special educators need to know their role when collaborating, but it is just as important for the regular education teachers to also know the role of the special educators. I liked how collaboration was defined as having clear, defined and mutual goals. I think if there was more collaboration, and these goals were discussed, these issues would decrease.
Amy VanIddekinge , Fri July 27, 2007, 09:58 PM MDT - Sad
Joni and Sarah...it is sad that the two of you are put to the sidelines while entering into classrooms with the knowledge you have on student achievement. I think there are teachers who are just ignorant to what all teachers have to offer! As teachers, we all have great strategies, management ideas and time saving tips, yet there are some who do not share knowledge or ask for more knowledge. In the long run, you should know the only person missing out is the teacher who is putting you on the sidelines!

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