George Lucas Educational Foundation

20 Ways to Initiate Collaboration With Your Literacy Coach

20 Ways to Initiate Collaboration With Your Literacy Coach

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After twenty years in the classroom, this school year I will be transitioning from English teacher to literacy coach.  In the past, I have worked with some amazing coaches who inspired, collaborated, and brought out the best in teachers and some not-so-wonderful coaches who took extended coffee breaks only to discuss the latest rose ceremony on The Bachelor.   I’m hoping to be the first type (not that there is anything wrong with The Bachelor)!

Coaching is a collaborative process that has the potential to maximize learning and enhance classroom instruction.  However, many teachers are apprehensive about working with coaches, especially if trust and confidentiality have not been firmly established.  That said, a literacy coach can be your most valuable go-to resource.  Specifically, a coach can help with planning, data analysis, and that oh-so-important non-evaluative instructional feedback.  (Isn’t it better to know you’re not providing sufficient wait time before your unannounced observation?)

Literacy coaches want nothing more than to build on your instructional strengths, helping you be the best in the classroom.  If you don’t think you possibly have enough time in the day to collaborate with your literacy coach, think again!  Most coaches have clocked in hundreds of lessons, strategies, and assessments and understand what comes with the daily challenges of teaching like no one else in the building.  Through their experience and expertise, they can help you work more efficiently, cogitate on lessons, and close the achievement gap because that is exactly what they are trained to do.  

Whether you are a first year teacher or a seasoned veteran, make it a goal this year to work closely with your literacy coach.  By engaging in a trusted partnership, you will naturally refine and reflect on your own instructional practice.  Not sure how to start the process?  Below are twenty ways to initiate collaboration with your literacy coach:  

                                              20 Ways to Initiate Collaboration 

1)    I’m starting a novel unit on (____________________title of book).  Would you help me brainstorm a kick-off activity that will spark interest?

2)    These are my latest benchmark scores.  Will you help me analyze my students’ data for strengths and weaknesses?

3)    I need a new strategy for teaching vocabulary besides drill and kill.  Do you have any go-to’s?

4)    Will you observe my class for questioning patterns?  I always feel like the same students answer whenever we have a discussion. 

5)    I need to make new reading groups based on differentiated ability level.  Can you look over this data and assist me?

6)    I want to try close reading annotation of complex texts but need some guidance.  Do you have any suggestions for resources?  

7)    Do you have any good rubrics for narrative writing?  (or expository, argumentative, descriptive, etc.)

8)    Will you help me evaluate my students’ group projects?  I need a second set of eyes.  

9)    I’ve been thinking our department could benefit from a study group but am too overwhelmed to lead it.  Are you interested?

10)  My evaluation is coming up next week.  Can I show you my lesson plan?

11)  I need a quick formative assessment to check for understanding before ending my lesson.  Can you help me?

12)  A few of my students just are not getting the concept of active/passive voice (or another skill).  Can you come in and do a small group lesson?

13)  I’m doing a gallery walk today and want some feedback on student engagement.  Can you come in and share your observations?

14)  I’m feeling overwhelmed with the next nine week’s Scope and Sequence?  Can you help me plan?

15)  My students do not understand the importance of transitional phrases.  Would you like to co-teach a writing lesson together?

16)  I could use some professional development on using anchor charts in the classroom.  Can we have a session during the next PD day?

17)  My morning meetings are getting stale.  Do you have any SEL ideas that will set a positive tone for the day?

18)  My Tier 1 RTI class has off-the-chart scores but is bored.  Do you have any inspiring PBL activities?

19)  I want to set some new instructional goals for the next nine weeks.  Can you help?

20)  So what did you think of the last episode of The Bachelor?  Let’s process…


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English Teacher's picture

I have worked with several literacy coaches over the past few years, and the dialogue prompts in this article highlight the types of meaningful conversations I've been used to having. However, this year I'm in a new school with a different literacy coach, and things are different. Almost two months into the school year and the dialogue has been very one-sided with mostly her making demands: Do this, do that, by this deadline. I'm not used to having so little input, and the unannounced observations are really stressful considering I barely know this person and it doesn't appear that the intent is to support. How exactly does one engage in a "trusted partnership" with a literacy coach who has little time for me and seemingly sees no value in my opinion?

Kimberly Dana's picture
Kimberly Dana
Award-Winning Teacher/Author

Thank you for sharing your experience. I'm sorry your literacy coach is not engaging in a collaborative partnership. Just a few follow up questions - How do the other teachers feel about the literacy coach? Have they had any successful experiences? What are the expectations of your principal in working with your literacy coach? Does your literacy coach have follow up conversations after the observations? One suggestion I have is to ask your coach to let you know before coming in for an observation with a mutual goal in mind, one that is agreed on by both of you. Building a trusting relationship with your coach takes time and a willingness to work together. Hope that helps and best of luck!

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