I am participating in #SOL19. Thanks to the twowritingteachers blog team for sponsoring this wonderful event!
I have evolved as a teacher over a career that spans 38 years of classroom teaching, facilitation of the K-5 gifted program, staff developer for K-12 writing across the curriculum, reading specialist, and writing coach. My work as a literacy coach is always rewarding. Perhaps my biggest reason for wanting to be in this role is my commitment to change in instruction that takes place when you put into practice what you’ve learned.
I look back on my experiences with the Pennsylvania Writing and Literature Project, and I know how important it is to “think big, but start small!” – as Michael Fullan suggests. When you begin to understand something new, you try to also figure out how it fits into what you are already doing. As a literacy coach, I need to recognize when a teacher gets it – has this new understanding and is ready to put it into practice. Then I need to think about what resources and supports he/she will need to be successful. Teachers, like their students, are on a continuum of learning. They face new challenges with each group of new students. It is my wish to be able to offer support and guidance in order to help them move all their students forward as learners.
The quality I rely on the most is my enthusiasm and excitement for learning new things and trying to imagine the possibilities. I think my many years of service and commitment to my own learning through graduate courses and conference attendance has created an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect. I believe I can engage in collegial conversations with staff members about instructional practices and how to use assessment to drive instruction. I am willing to put in the extra time, and I am willing to proceed in small steps in order to reach a worthy destination. I see the purpose of coaching as developing confidence and expertise in teachers so that they are able to meet the needs of the diverse learners in their classroom. Most of the time, they solve their own problems, coming up with wonderful solutions that work. They need a good listener and a cheerleader – someone who will encourage them to take risks and someone they can trust.
I encourage my colleagues to set reasonable goals for themselves, and I do the same. My ongoing goal at this present point in time are to be faithful to my literacy coaching log, recording activities and conversations in a notebook I can carry around with me, and transferring to my electronic file on Fridays. I am in different schools for different purposes, so my commitment to this log is important to capture those Ah ha! moments and priceless gems – strategies, management techniques, opportunities for reflection – we see in classrooms every day. I will continue to make a commitment to the “we” philosophy – helping teachers solve problems they are unable to solve alone by listening, questioning, and making suggestions to help teachers work through their problems through metacognitive conversations with their colleagues and the literacy coach.
My co-authors have helped me develop the routines and strategies I have used and continue to use in my work with teachers and students. They are all brilliant thinkers, good friends, and educators who are models of lifelong readers, writers, and learners. I thought I would take a moment here to thank Rosie, Diane, and Stacey for the opportunity to collaborate with them and to learn from them. They help me challenge myself to be a better teacher/coach/student tomorrow than I am today!