Cookies are made of butter and love.
I always knew that the way to a person’s heart was through their stomach, so when I moved to a new district as a reading specialist for one elementary building eight years ago, I enjoyed bringing cookies to data meetings or other professional development workshops. Teachers seemed to appreciate the midday treat and didn’t seem to mind being pulled from their rooms as much because they could count on a home-baked goody. The expectations grew, and soon there wasn’t a meeting in that one building without a cookie or brownie. When I became the literacy coach for four buildings, word spread. “You can expect a treat at a meeting that Kathy runs,” was heard across the district.
I love living up to those expectations of baking, as the experience is quite therapeutic for me. Some days are easy drop-cookie days, but some can be “needing to knead bread dough” days! I always use fresh ingredients, provide a variety of choices, consider the dietary needs of the recipients, and try to make the treats easy to eat on the run. Now and then, an extra-special treat like cinnamon rolls are given to those who really need an extra pick-me-up. As I mix, knead, bake, and decorate, I always think about the people I am baking for. I think of recent times we have spent together in their rooms planning, teaching, and debriefing. I think of the struggles some have with challenging students. I think of how I can help them grow as learners.
What are they expecting from me as a coach? The expectations that I will be a caring, supportive, confidential coach have also taken some time to cultivate, but they are in place now. Here are some things I know they have grown to expect from me:
They expect confidentiality. Nothing leaves their room — nothing we discuss together, not even notes I may take.
They expect consistency. We have established long-term goals for our coaching cycles together, and short-term objectives for each session that we both agreed on.
They expect to grow as a learner. Our time together is nonevaluative, so risk taking is done without worry. They expect me to anticipate what they will need next and plan for that.
They expect honesty and humility. None of my lessons are perfect, and theirs aren’t expected to be, either. The best data comes from struggling and watching how students acquire what we hope we are teaching them.
They expect me to be there on time. There is nothing worse than trying to hold the attention of a large group of kindergartners when you expected to start a lesson on time and the coach is late.
They expect me to be a listener. They need someone to confide in when teaching is hard, an extra set of eyes for a puzzling student, and a resource provider who can get them that just-right book when there is no time to get it themselves.
They expect to be able to get what they need. Needs vary, from a demo lesson, a co-teacher, or an observer, to a pusher who helps them see when they are working harder than their students.
They don’t expect me to know everything. I will never know it all, but love learning and growing with them.
Just as they’ve come to expect cookies, everyone expects me to live up to the consistent role I have grown into over the years. Without those expectations, our coaching time together wouldn’t be effective. It would be like me bringing cheese and crackers to a meeting!
This week we consider strategies for working with young readers. Plus more as always — enjoy!
Contributor, Choice Literacy
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Shari Frost provides a booklist of Multicultural Books for Beginning Readers:
Kyla Ryman explains the difference between picture books and beginning readers for use in instruction, and why understanding these differences is crucial for teachers:
The Chicken Spaghetti blog has published their annual “list of lists” of award-winning children’s books from 2014:
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Many beloved characters from picture books are showing up in beginning readers, and in the process can lose a lot of their appeal. Shari Frost provides teachers with criteria for choosing between Picture Books or Beginning Readers:
Katie DiCesare suggests some mentor texts for fostering curiosity in young readers in Questions and Picture Books:
In this week’s video, we look at very young readers — kindergartners who are just beginning to understand concepts of print. Clare Landrigan leads a “quick and frequent” small group that integrates phonemic awareness activities with assessment:
Finally, Kim Yaris and Jan Burkins conclude their series on integrating children’s literature and mindful teaching with Nine Picture Books for Teaching Mindfulness:
That’s all for this week!