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What Happens When the Coach Needs Coaching

Turkesshia Moore
 | Jul 12, 2017

Literacy Professional Coaching“Any questions?” asked a member of our district leadership team at our quarterly meeting. I braved the silence and looks from my colleagues that were meant to hush me, and raised my hand. I stood up and asked, “What path is available for those of us in coordinator and coaching positions?”

She did not have an answer.

Literacy coaches, reading specialists, and literacy coordinators all have an important place in U.S. schools. ILA’s research brief, “The Multiple Roles of School-Based Specialized Literacy Professionals,” coined a new term to represent all of these roles: the specialized literacy professional. While ILA specifically refers to school-based professionals, district-level literacy professionals also provide a wealth of knowledge to districts, schools, teachers, and students. Because my experience has been at the school and district level, I know that these professionals are not always able to increase their content knowledge unless they pursue learning experiences on their own.

The literacy professional for a school (or school district) is often the first person sought out for advice, strategies, data review, or observation. In order to provide effective coaching and assistance, these literacy professionals need to continue to develop their own skillsets and stay abreast of the latest literacy research. If the school or the district is not providing professional development opportunities, literacy professionals must find them independently. This can be time consuming and overwhelming if you do not know what to look for.

Literacy professionals should first complete a self-assessment to determine their areas of strength and weakness. The Literacy Clearinghouse provides an easy-to-score self-assessment for elementary literacy professionals that would be a great starting point. Meeting with other literacy professionals in the area is another way to expand your skillset; you can each present on your most proficient areas (based on self-assessment results) and learn from one another.

To be a successful literacy professional, you have to continue to evolve and grow, just as we expect of teachers and students. Seek this evolution and growth on your own, if necessary. Children are depending on it.

Turkesshia MooreTurkesshia Moore is a literacy specialist with Wilson Language Training. She most recently served as a K-5 literacy coordinator in Greensboro, NC. She is currently pursuing her Ed.S. Degree in Educational Leadership. Her interests include the relationship between parental involvement and student achievement, providing adequate funding and effective instruction in rural communities, and the effect of generational dispositions of education on current student achievement.

Turkesshia Moore will present a session titled “What Happens When the Coach Needs Coaching” at the ILA 2017 Conference & Exhibits, held in Orlando, FL, July 15–17. For more information, download the ILA 2017 Conference & Exhibits app or visit ilaconference.org/app.

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  1. Ellen Eisenberg | Aug 02, 2017
    Hi Turkesshia. Your question is so timely! Coaches need to nourish their own professional growth. As I mentioned to you at the recent ILA Conference in Orlando, the PA Institute for Instructional Coaching (www.instituteforinstructionalcoaching.org and www.pacoaching.org) is a statewide coaching endeavor where both a coach and his/her mentor (aka the coach's coach) have an opportunity to learn and grow together. Everyone in a school is a member in a community of learning and practice. Our coaches and mentors provide consistency in language and practice when they collaborate regularly with their colleagues. Please access our free Instructional Coach Resource Guide (website above) for a plethora of information and our research about instructional coaching in Pennsylvania.

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