As the school year draws to a close, it’s time to reflect on my work this year. As you know, it was my first year in a new district and school. The school has had Literacy Instructional Coaches in the past, so most of the teachers were familiar with the coaching model.
I spent the first five to six months of the school year facilitating multiple Learning Teams of mixed content teachers (science, social studies and language arts). There were about 30 teachers across the three teams. These teams met twice weekly for professional development and lesson planning. The professional development topics were chosen from weak performance areas on our state standardized tests. Topics included: cause-effect text structure, headings, inferring, identifying author’s purpose, evaluating website credibility and using context clues (vocabulary/word study). The staff development sessions led to a common language and structure around these skills. The hope was that students would encounter the same structure of say, inference, in multiple contents and contexts throughout their day. The raw scores of our 2011 test are back, but we do not have access to specific item analysis yet, so I can’t judge the effectiveness of this approach.
For the last three to four months of school, there were no Learning Teams. (Long story; don’t ask.) I spent time working with teachers to continue the work that started in Learning Teams. I also reached out to some teachers who needed additional support in their classrooms. For some, this involved weekly planning sessions. For others, it involved co-teaching multiple times per week.
Mainly in the second half of the school year, I facilitated a team of language arts teachers in a major revision of our curriculum maps. This was a HUGE undertaking and we spent months completing this work. Knowing that the revised curriculum maps would include Readers’-Writers’ Workshop as the main instructional format, the Literacy Coaches developed several staff development sessions to boost teachers’ comfort level. We presented an overview of Readers’-Writers’ Workshop (format, structure, routines, common language, etc.). We hosted a make-and-take session centered on Readers’-Writers’ Notebooks so teachers could add to their notebooks all summer and use it as a model for students in the fall. Lastly, I presented an overview session of Literature Circles as our district is moving away from the whole-class novel.
All told, this was a good year. I know there were missed opportunities, but with coaching, building relationships and trust is vital to having difficult conversations. I think next year I would be able to go more deeply with my staff and see a greater level of growth.