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#ILAchat: Developing a Coaching Mind-Set

Wesley Ford
 | Mar 13, 2018

Jacy Ippolito and Christina DobbsILA’s 2015 position statement, Multiple Roles of School-Based Specialized Literacy Professionals, says literacy coaches are “primarily responsible for improving classroom instruction by supporting teacher learning and facilitating literacy program efforts.” In this role, coaches work with other educators to improve literacy instruction, rather than working directly with students. The differences between coaches and other specialized literacy professionals roles are described in greater detail in the accompanying research brief.

However, not all models of literacy coaching are the same; “There are choices, and the choices matter,” according to ILA’s latest brief, Literacy Coaching for Change: Choices Matter. The brief defines three models of coaching for change and provides guidance on how to choose one that’s in line with the teacher’s ideological beliefs, context, and goals.

Our forthcoming Standards for the Preparation of Literacy Professionals 2017 further details the separation of the reading/literacy specialist and literacy coach roles as well as their specialized areas of knowledge—a shift that Jacy Ippolito, one of the lead writers for the Standards 2017, has already described.

Cohosted by Ippolito and Christina Dobbs, our upcoming #ILAchat to take place this Thursday, March 15, at 8:00 p.m. ET, will explore not only the evolving role of literacy coaches but also how other professional literacy roles can benefit from developing a coach’s mind-set to facilitate literacy leadership in schools.

Ippolito is an associate professor and department chair of the Secondary and Higher Education Department for the School of Education at Salem State University, Salem, MA. His research and teaching focus on the intersection of adolescent literacy, literacy coaching, teacher leadership, and school reform. Ippolito is specifically interested in the roles that teacher leaders, principals, and literacy coaches play in helping institute and maintain instructional change at middle and high school levels. His writing has appeared in the Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, the Elementary School Journal, the Journal of School Leadership, and Literacy Today. His work can also be found in books such as Investigating Disciplinary LiteracyCultivating Coaching MindsetsAdolescent Literacy, and Adolescent Literacy in the Era of the Common Core.  For more information, please visit

Dobbs is program director and assistant professor of English education at Boston University. Her research focuses on the academic language writing of secondary students and the disciplinary literacy training and professional development of teachers. She is the author and coauthor of recent publications in the Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, Reading and Writing, Reading Research Quarterly, and Applied Psycholinguistics, and her recent dissertation received the Jeanne S. Chall Doctoral Student Research Award. She also coauthored a volume titled Investigating Disciplinary Literacy: A Framework for Collaborative Professional Learning and coedited a volume titled Humanizing Education: Critical Alternatives to Reform. She regularly contributes to The Horn Book’s blog, Lolly’s Classroom, writing about classroom uses of books for young adults and reviewing books. Dobbs is a former high school teacher in Houston, TX, and she is a literacy coach and reading specialist. Prior to her doctoral work at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE), she earned a master’s degree in literacy at HGSE and a bachelor’s degree in English from Texas A&M University.

See you Thursday!

Wesley Ford is the Social Media Strategist for the International Literacy Association.

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