Looking at Literacy

What BAISD teachers need to know today (Nov. 2018)

Coaching Matters. Here's Why.

Literacy coaching matters because it directly impacts student achievement. Research supports a core set of coaching practices that provide job-embedded professional development for teachers. These practices, when employed in a building, improve teacher expertise. As a result of this, both capacity and sustainability increase across the school.

What can literacy coaches do with their time in elementary buildings to ensure the kind of measurable, research-supported outcomes listed above? While there are 7 Essential Coaching Practices for Elementary Literacy, included in the document linked below, I hope to draw your attention to Coaching Essential #6: "When coaching individual teachers, effective literacy coaches employ a core set of coaching activities that are predictors of student literacy growth at one or more grade levels." These activities are the game-changers. These are the ways, as coaches, we need to be spending our time in order to impact student achievement as highlighted above. Here are the highlights:

  • Conferencing with teachers, for a variety of specific purposes, including goal setting, analyzing instruction, selecting texts for given instructional goals, analyzing assessments to plan instruction, and more
  • Modeling for a variety of reasons, including demonstrating a practice with a teacher's own students/resources, to allow teachers to watch students as learners without distraction, and more
  • Observing students and/or teachers for the purposes of future planning, providing desired supports, examining practice across a building, etc.
  • Co-Planning to build collaborative relationships, ensure planning utilizes key components, and to pull in assessment results to meet student needs, among others

"Coaching is a profession of love. You can't coach people unless you love them."

-Eddie Robinson

Essential Coaching Practices for Elementary Literacy

Michigan Department of Education Early Literacy Coaching Model

Big picture

From the Coach's Bookshelf: For Students

Essential Instructional Practice #2: Read Alouds

Statements I have heard educators say around read alouds:

"I just can't seem to find the time to read aloud to them every day."

"We usually read aloud once a day, right after recess, and they just relax and listen."

"I don't see the value with my students. I get it in kindergarten and first grade, but..."

My favorite Dr. Nell Duke quote that helped me grasp the magnitude of the body of research supporting read alouds in elementary literacy instruction is "If you don't read aloud every day in K, 1, 2, and 3, that's malpractice." That is the thing that is beautiful about the presentation of the Literacy Essentials-they are presented in terms of a minimum standard of care, as in medicine, that use research to show us exactly what practices to use in all of our classrooms every day.

A few key points to remember is that read alouds as supported by research:

  • Are organized into text sets that are linked by concept and/or theme
  • Are beyond the independent level of your students
  • Involve modeling fluency (all components)
  • Involve vocabulary teaching using child-friendly explanations (see video below...it is a fantastic example of an intentionally planned read aloud focused on vocabulary)
  • Involve higher-order discussion among students along the way, before, during, and after reading
  • Involve teaching and modeling instructional strategies based on the grade level and student needs (strategies related to developing print concepts, word recognition strategies, text structures, text features, comprehension strategies, and vocabulary in context strategies)

Remember to find out more, or enroll in the free modules to dig deeper into the essentials, by visiting the website linked below: