Results
Beyond a Checklist for Teaching and Leading

If I had a dime for every time I’ve felt like a fraud in the literacy world, I’d be rich. I’d still feel like a fraud, but at least I’d...

Student Files

“I don’t look at student cumulative files,” the teacher said to me. “I want every student to walk into my room with a fresh start.” I stared at her dumbly....

Portfolios for the Coached

I haven’t always liked my note-taking system. It’s always changing, and I’m always moving from one notebook to another. I am continuously searching for different ways to capture my thoughts,...

Environmental Walks: A Snapshot of a Literacy Culture

In spring, I facilitate a number of parent tours of the school. These building tours are for incoming students who are either new to the district because of open enrollment...

I Still Am

When my oldest son was young, he would spend hours rooting through the dirt, inspecting what lived underneath the rocks in our yard and carefully examining every crawling insect he...

Reframing Data Discussions

“Will you lead a meeting going over ELA benchmark data with second through sixth grade on one of the institute days?” “Sure.” (Please no.) “Which day?” (Please say the second...

Analyzing Student Work: Beginning with Strengths

“I don’t even know where to start,” she mutters under her breath as her eyes widen at the sight and her shoulders slump. They lie there, a stack of notes...

Showcasing the Vision

A family portrait hanging on the gallery wall in your house. A photo block of your child’s first birthday front and center on the fireplace mantel. A matted and framed...

Data Pictures Instead of Data Walls

I've never been a big fan of data walls. They typically consist of bulletin boards and physical space that house student data, documenting various levels of student literacy achievement. One...

The Third Rail: Coaching and Instructional Assessment

As I reflected with Joy about our recent coaching cycle, we looked back to our original goals and the pre- and post-data about her students' work. We had seen more...

Guiding Questions to Stay Grounded

I have 20 minutes to make it to my next meeting, I think to myself as I put my laptop away in my bag. I thank the teachers for their...

Literacy Audit (Part 5): Providing Resources and Support

With a literacy team in place, let’s talk about one of the roles you can share with your team: getting students and teachers the appropriate materials to help them be...

Literacy Audit (Part 3): Making a Plan

Since I’ve been a leader for many years, I have the benefit of retrospect. When I have identified growth areas or launched a plan for improvement, my rearview mirror reveals...

Literacy Self-Audit (Part 1): Beginning Questions

If you’ve been hired to be a principal or literacy coach, you may feel confident about your leadership capabilities in literacy instruction, or you may suspect you have quite a...

Auditing Your Literacy Leadership: Introduction

Principals, instructional coaches, and curriculum leaders are by nature confident and courageous people. We find it easy to build relationships with teachers, students, and parents. We know how to communicate...

Student Centered and Teacher Driven: Coaching and Instructional Assessment

As I reflected with Joy about our recent coaching cycle, we looked back to our original goals and the pre- and post-data on her students' work. We had seen more...

Breakthroughs and Barriers: Going Schoolwide with a Literacy Initiative

In our move to Mineral Point, Wisconsin, we purchased an old home in very good condition. It’s a four-square home, built to last. The previous owner was diligent about improvements...

Evaluation Season

We just finished hunting season in my hometown. This is a lovely time of year, with hints of winter peeking through sunshine and crackly leaves. But there is a lot...

Coaching Feedback and Reflection

A leader’s job is not to do the work for others, it’s to help others figure out how to do it themselves, to get things done and to succeed beyond...

Professional Reboot

Last year, my assistant principal and I had a conversation in which we talked about ways we could both grow as administrators. I recommended that he seek out a way...

Assessing First-Grade Learning

Jason DiCarlo leads a first-grade study group as they discuss different options for young learners to demonstrate understanding beyond written responses.