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Literacy Coaches -- A promising model for professional development 
Sebastian Wren, Ph.D.

Instructional Coaching has been widely accepted as a model for professional development in schools across the country.  In this model, a seasoned and talented professional provides job-embedded professional development support to teachers within a focused domain (e.g. Reading, Math, Science).  The coach designs and leads professional development sessions, models lessons in the classroom, observes instruction, provides an opportunity for reflection after the lesson, assists with planning, assessment and data-management, etc.

I have personally served as a literacy coach for 3 years, and I've worked to support coaches for a few years beyond that.  I've learned some valuable lessons that I'd love to share here if I have the time.  Which is unlikely.  But I'll try.

In the mean time, I've written an article about some of the most important lessons I've learned over the years concerning the way coaches and principals can work together effectively. In my experience, this is the keystone to having a successful coach on a campus.

Download the full article here.

Also, Ed Martinson, a literacy coach in Elsberry, Missouri, wrote recently to share these tips for coaches that come from his book Stories of a First Year Literacy Coach: And Practical Tips Learned Along the Way:

Tip#1: Get the Year Off on the Right Foot:  Have materials and resources needed at the beginning of the year ready for the teachers to use.

Tip#2: Be Prepared to Do Anything: Trust is so important in a coach / teacher relationship.

Tip #3: Communicate and Cogratulate: Clear communication as well as congratulation teachers for small successes or trying new ideas help them make the next step.

Tip#4: Get Your Ideas Into Play: You were hired as a coach for a reason, your great research-based teaching structures and ideas, get them out to teachers without being pushy.

Tip#5: Modeling is not Just Modeling: Modeling a lesson is an important part of the job, but it can be so much more.  Modeling can be used to help teacher with classroom management, students engagement, etc.

Tip#6: Set Goals and Look to the Future:  As hard as the every day demands are of being a literacy coach, your focus should also be on the future.  Set goals, and help teachers set goals that will help them look forward.

Tip#7: Find a Sounding Board:  Having another person who is going through what you are going through will give you a place to turn for advice, activities, structures, and general venting when times get tough.




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Last Updated 11-22-09