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Fail to Learn

Which grade level would you least like to teach? Matt Renwick explains why you need to confront your fears and do a demonstration lesson with those students. In Matt’s case, the lesson involved entering the wonderful world of kindergarten.

Helping Teachers Weed Libraries

It is difficult for teachers to discard or recycle books they spent years acquiring, yet this is essential end-of-year work in many classrooms. Stephanie Affinito explains how a literacy coach can turn this challenge into an opportunity to build community and professional development plans.

Celebrate and Reflect

Have you paused yet to celebrate all you’ve accomplished with teachers this year? Literacy coaches Cathy Mere and Kelly Hoenie take a few minutes to reflect on what has gone well and the learning they will carry forward over the summer.

That Student: Ending the Year with a PD Celebration

Melanie Quinn shares a simple professional development activity that helps teachers focus on growth through the year, based on their experiences with one child.

Talking in Front of Peers

Jennifer Schwanke realizes it is never easy to talk in front of adults. She explains how she helps teachers accept the challenge of speaking to colleagues in professional development settings.

Observing Colleagues: Leading Successful Classroom Visits

Cathy Mere finds that what comes before and after classroom observations may be more important than the actual visit. She details the coach’s role in maximizing reflection and benefits from group observations.

Classroom Observation Etiquette

Cathy Mere remembers the many visitors to her classroom: most were inspiring, but a few made her want to shut the door on future observers. She shares how clear expectations for etiquette can build confidence and ease the concerns of the demonstration teacher.

Peer Observations with a Purpose

Dana Murphy works with teachers to design a peer observation checklist to ensure everyone shares the same expectations and understanding.

Reading Specialists: Using a Common Observation Form

Kathy Provost and Heather Fisher work with reading specialists who are observing individual students to study the transition of skills from targeted support to work in the classroom. The observation form everyone uses includes an engagement inventory and key questions.

How Principals Can Help Build Teacher and Coach Connections

Principal Lee Snider explains why it is important for coaches to schedule in-class time with every teacher, and how principals can help in supporting this work.

Dropping In Versus Scheduling

Ruth Ayres explains why setting a coaching schedule is crucial for success, even if the work is mundane and challenging at the same time.

Developing a Principal and Coach Partnership

Matt Renwick explains how he works as a principal to build a relationship with the school's literacy coach, including scheduling weekly meetings and sharing responsibilities in whole-staff meetings.

Coaching in Proximity: The Sherpa Mind-Set

David Pittman finds that a sherpa analogy helps him adjust his role as a coach—moving closer to teachers without taking over instruction.

A Change in the Weather: Moving from Teacher to Coach

Ruth Ayres finds that coaches can't help but feel a little ambivalent about losing their teaching role, but it's important to embrace the changes in responsibilities if you want to coach well.

Breakthroughs and Barriers: Going Schoolwide with a Literacy Initiative

What’s going well with literacy in your teaching community? What’s getting in the way? Matt Renwick considers breakthroughs and barriers in making literacy instruction more of a priority in his school.

The Coconut Wireless

Suzy Kaback finds that a novel take on community communication changes her outlook on how to reach teachers through informal networks.

Demonstration Lesson: Quotes in Writing

Tammy Mulligan leads a demonstration small group with fifth-grade girls on using quotes in their writing. The session includes a prebrief and debrief with the girls' teacher.

Team Meeting: Next Steps

Kathy Provost closes a third-grade team meeting with a discussion of next steps, ensuring everyone is on the same page with plans before the next month's meeting.

When Email Isn’t Enough

Jennifer Schwanke finds that sometimes email can't take the place of face-to-face interactions. She explains why she doesn't let a quest to save time override consideration of when meetings are needed.

Embedding Reading into Staff Meetings

Matt Renwick shares how he elevates routine meetings by embedding discussion of professional reading into them.

First-Grade Demonstration Small Group: Reading Engagement

Clare Landrigan leads a demonstration small group with first-grade readers who struggle with engagement and stamina. The lesson includes a prebrief and debrief with their teacher.

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