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McKenna, M. & Walpole, S. (2008). The literacy coaching challenge: Models and methods for grades K-6. NY, NY: Guilford Press.

Author: McKenna, M. & Walpole, S.

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In the preface to this book, McKenna and Walpole state that, “As we planned this book, it was evident that many school leaders had outgrown the need for an introductory treatment of coaching." In writing this book, they have kept to this observation and their intention to write a book for experienced coaches. The book is excellent and contains much useful information that expands one's thinking and options as a working coach.

Chapter I begins with a discussion of the IRA standards for coaches and the MS/HS standards written by a number of the professional associations. It then outlines selected models of coaching and delineates their differences and applications. Chapter 2 discusses principles of adult learning and links them to what good professional development ought to look like. Chapter 3 discusses issues of authority, curriculum, and assessment in schools and would be excellent for a coach to discuss with his/her principal--especially early in the school year.

Chapter 4 discusses the role of assessment in a coach's work. The chapter emphasizes that coaches need to analyze assessment data carefully as the key to actions that they take with teachers and students. Chapter 5 is excellent for its explanation of how professional development affect student achievement and suggests a specific cycle for coaches' support of teachers: achievement, theory, demonstration, practice, feedback, maintaining coherence, and finally, maintaining sanity.

Chapters 6 and 7 may be the most useful and practical in the book in terms stretching coaches' thinking. The two chapters create a realistic, but fictional coach and then have her problem-solve what are tricky, real dilemmas that a coach can face. In Chapter 6 the coach deals with problems found in doing one-to-one coaching at the 1st, 4th, and 7th grade levels. Chapter 7 has the coach designing grade level coaching sessions and linking them to individual coaching that she is doing. All sorts of side issues that coaches must also consider and deal with to set up both structures are discussed. The coach bases all of her work upon an analysis of student needs and teachers subsequent needs in order to address their students’ learning. These chapters detail well the range of abilities that an excellent coach needs and what the job of a quality coach is really like.

Chapter 8 of the book is a basic, but good chapter written strictly for middle school coaches. It outlines how middle school coaches might approach their position and strategies that they might promote across content areas. The book ends with a chapter on the challenge of reluctant teachers and suggestions about how one might handle them. This is a book well worth reading for all experienced coaches, K-12.

Date Added: 11/14/2008

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