Literacy Coaches have worked in schools for more than a decade. Yet, there are many teachers and administrators who have no idea what the Literacy Coach does. Our school has been allocated a regional Literacy Coach for one day per week until the end of the school year. The administration (and I) have allocated that time to one faculty per week, with a list of activities we would like the coach to complete. Several Heads of Department have asked: What am I supposed to do with this resource? How can this person support my already overworked staff and improve the literacy skills of our students? I chose to give them the following list.
10 Ways to Implement and Maximise your Literacy Coach Allocation
1. Shadowing: The coach can shadow one or two teachers for one lesson (per week) and discuss literacy strategies that could be implemented in his/ her class. These professional conversations could lead to team teaching activities or mentoring.
2. Modelling and Observation: Have the coach model a lesson segment in one class and have a few teachers observe (or video the lesson).
- Invite the faculty and the Regional Literacy Coach to have lunch together, watch the video of modelled strategies and discuss.
- Use faculty time to discuss implementation and extension of the modelled strategy.
3. Resources for 3 Level Guides: Provide the coach with the resources for the next teaching unit in each year level. The Literacy Coach can:
- Create activities that explicitly teach or utilise your chosen literacy strategy (e.g. 3 level guides, 7 steps writing, vocabulary visuals, guided reading).
- Work with a small group of teachers in your faculty to create literacy activities focussing on a single year level.
- Create 3 Level Guide (or other ‘good reader/ writer’ strategy) homework sheets and provide guidelines for future development of these.
4. Extension: Use comprehension strategies that your faculty has already used or wants to know more about. The Literacy Coach can extend uses of the strategy with your staff, model it or help create resources.
5. Buddy/ Mentor: match the Literacy Coach with one or two key teachers from your faculty to support them with literacy teaching strategies in their classes.
- Key teachers may be more experienced or have identified literacy as an area where they want to improve/ extend their teaching.
- When these teachers are using the strategies proficiently, they can share with the faculty and/or buddy with another teacher.
6. Toolkit/ Fact Sheets: The Literacy Coach can provide short fact sheets and templates for strategies he/she has introduced in staff meetings. It will be important to meet with the coach and discuss how these fact sheets and templates can be modified for the subject areas in your faculty.
7. Critical Friend: The Literacy Coach can work with teachers to improve existing literacy resources that your faculty has already developed and create new resources.
8. Assessment Modification: Review assessment task sheets for the next teaching units. The Coach can:
- Work with relevant subject co-ordinators to modify assessment according to various literacy needs.
- Vary questions (specified by you) to fit with the 3 Level Guide Multiple Choice format (or other literacy strategy focus in your school).
9. Round Robin Use the Literacy Coach and Learning Support Teacher (or other key teachers) to facilitate literacy activities for teachers to experience in small groups. Activities might include case studies, Q and A, data analysis, selection of useful strategies or other faculty activities (facilitated by the head of department). Small groups rotate through each activity.
10. Q and A: Combine with another faculty (e.g Maths and HPE) for a focussed discussion of strategies already covered in staff meetings (contextualised for your teaching areas). You will need to meet with the literacy coach to ensure he/she uses relevant work samples and is prepared for questions from your staff.
Ultimately, the Literacy Coach, regardless of where he/she is based, is an experienced teacher who has the expertise to support teachers with literacy instruction and is a resource. Leaders need to use this resource effectively and the best course of action is to work with them and negotiate the best uses of the time allocated.
What does the literacy coach do at your school? How do administrators/ department heads use literacy coaching time/resources? Does the Literacy Coach support teachers in classrooms or spend time creating resources? Is the literacy coach based at your school or does the coach visit several schools? How much time does the coach spend with students?