Toll, C. (2007). Lenses on literacy coaching: Conceptualizations, functions, and outcomes. Norwood, MA: Christophier-Gordon.
Author: Toll, C.
Cathy Toll's new book is ground-breaking. It is the first book to begin to discuss systematically models of coaching. It becomes a good companion piece to the LCC Brief on "Coaching Considerations" and the "Enter Your Program" template. Toll does not see the elements that she describes as continuums where one naturally evolves from one to the other; instead, she sees them as discrete decision points-decisions that coaches and administrators ought to make consciously. She points out that too often coaches or coaching programs are entered into without doing this careful thinking. She states, "Often, the desired outcomes of literacy coaching are understood differently by teachers, administrators, and literacy coaches, yet this is not always clear to those involved." (p. 47)
If you want a good "how to" about literacy coaching, this is not the book for you. You ought to read one of her other books for that purpose. However, this IS the book to read if you have some knowledge about coaching and want to think through setting up or revising a coaching program. Chapters 2, 3, 4, and 7 seem most helpful. In these chapters Toll considers: What is a literacy coach? What does a literacy coach do? What are the desired outcomes of literacy coaching? Toll's friendly voice comes through, but in places the book can seem somewhat abstract. This may be fine because it encourages you to reflect carefully on your own work. The charts are very useful for this purpose and for talking over the book with others. Appendices that illustrate the work of two coaches, one elementary and one high school, bring some of the concepts alive.
It seems fairly clear the models of coaching Toll would prefer, but she is clear that the judgment about best models needs to be answered this way: "In the case of literacy coaching, instead of asking, which model is the best, we might ask, which model will get educators the results they want." (p. 40) This book will help you be more reflective and intentional about your work. It will help members within a district to communicate and to be sure that all are headed in a similar direction about literacy coaching. This book begins discussions that are needed to implement literacy coaching programs successfully.
Date Added: 01/19/2007
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