If you have collaborated with a literacy coach before, you understand how instrumental the coaching process can be when looking for approaches to maximize student achievement. If coaching is new for you, however, you may not know where to begin. There are numerous ways to connect with your literacy coach - the possibilities are truly endless - but here are ten ideas to get you on the path to collaboration with your coach!
1. Ask Questions
If you have questions about students, resources, lessons, or other literacy-related topics, your coach is a go-to resource. Often these questions are the seeds that lead to collaboration! Literacy coaches are there to support you and to work with you to boost student achievement, not to evaluate or judge you based on what you may or may not know. Coaches love to talk to teachers - do not be afraid to ask questions!
2. Plan Together
Planning with your literacy coach could include planning lessons, planning student groupings, or planning for future coaching. Regardless of what you plan, you get the benefit of another set of eyes and expertise. Perhaps the biggest benefit of planning with your coach is the opportunity to bounce ideas off each other and discuss options from multiple angles. Thinking through planning this way can lead to more effective brainstorming and an increased ability to evaluate the potential success or pitfalls of options.
3. Teach Together
Co-teaching allows you and your literacy coach to learn from each other. It enables you each to utilize your strengths and grow in your areas of weakness with a partner to support you. The give and take of co-teaching can be a perfect format for trying new things and approaching difficult tasks.
4. Watch as Your Coach Teaches
Observing your literacy coach in action as a teacher can be useful if you want to learn new teaching methods, if you want to get a feel for the flow of a lesson, or if you want to be able to observe student responses to instruction more objectively. This is especially useful if you plan the lesson together and take notes as the coach teaches. Then you can evaluate and discuss the lesson and the response of the students later.
5. Let Your Coach Watch as You Teach
This is intimidating for many teachers, but the benefits of allowing your literacy coach to watch you teach are worth the discomfort. You can select a focus with your coach ahead of time, and then your coach can takes objective notes to be used in later conversations as you look for strengths, determine how students are responding to different instructional methods, and look for opportunities to up your game to the next level. The agenda for this type of coaching is yours - the coach is not looking for what is right or wrong, but for evidence of learning related to what you want to focus on.
6. Have Regular Conversations
These conversations can be related specifically to coaching (setting coaching goals, discussing coaching sessions, planning for next steps), but they can also encompass a variety of other topics. Talking on a regular basis helps keep your literacy coach in the loop and gives them a window into the needs of your students. It also helps build a relationship with your coach, which is critical to coaching success!
7. Analyze Data Together
The assessment is completed...now what? Work with your literacy coach to interpret results! Are there groups of students who have gaps in similar areas? You can work together to plan small group support for those students. Are there trends that show success across the board with certain skills? Celebrate what is working!
8. Participate in Professional Development Opportunities
Attend professional development presented by your coach - you can often find ways to collaborate further about the content of the session and to personalize the learning within the setting of your own classroom. Your coach can work with you in a variety of ways as you apply your new learning!
9. Join a Study Group
If your literacy coach facilitates a study group, join in! This is a great way to connect with your coach and with other teachers, often from a variety of grade levels. You can learn more about professional resources, work with vertical teams, and develop a group of friends along the way.
10. Celebrate and Reflect on Successes AND Obstacles!
There is nothing literacy coaches love more than to celebrate successes with you! If you have had successes, share them! Reflecting on your successes can increase the likelihood of experiencing them again because you think about the process you went through and identifying what were the key factors in the success. If you are running into obstacles, reflecting with a coach can help to identify your key barriers and develop a plan of action to overcome them.
Coaching can be a valuable tool in your educator toolbox. Be on the lookout for ways to collaborate with your coach to help you grow as an educator and to help your students increase their levels of achievement!
This piece was originally submitted to our community forums by a reader. Due to audience interest, we’ve preserved it. The opinions expressed here are the writer’s own.