Burkins, J.M. (2007). Coaching for balance: How to meet the challenges of literacy coaching. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

Author: Burkins, Jan Miller



Burkins has written this book from her perspective as a working literacy coach in an elementary school. By the time you finish, you feel like you have made a good friend. Burkins offers much sound advice from her work as a literacy coach, and at the same time links her experiences to a solid research base. Her perspective captures the tensions that really exist in the job of a coach and how a coach has much to balance - both professionally and personally-and hence, the title of her book. The book is also inspirational and contains good advice about how and why coaches do need to take care of their own needs, too.

The book is divided into four sections: many hats, building relationships, the work itself, and why coaching matters. In the section on many hats, Burkins has included a great list of the elements that a coach must balance. She also insightfully outlines the four characteristics of an effective literacy coach. She takes on the topics of leadership without authority and policing, giving sage advice to coaches about these topics. In the second section on building relationships, she emphasizes ways to work with individuals and groups to create positive change. In the third section she discusses the work of doing one-to-one coaching and the new learning a coach must do to become good at this part of the job, especially 1) learning a language for classroom visitation that builds trust and 2) a way to lead tough data conversations. In the last section on “coaching matters," Burkins writes honestly and personally about gaining greater multicultural perspectives toward both teachers and students. She ends the book writing about how it feels to be a literacy coach. Burkins' writing is beautiful and quotable, and by the end you are left wanting to meet and get to know her personally. The book is a very good read for elementary coaches, and also contains good wisdom for middle and high school coaches as well.

Date Added: 06/18/2007



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