If you interviewed reading specialists from around the country about their position you would get a wide variety of responses about what they do! I find that even in my position what I do varies greatly from classroom to classroom.

On Friday Lesley University Center for Reading Recovery and Literacy Collaborative posted a great Blog titled Moving Beyond Modeling with Student-Centered Coaching.  The author Diane Sweeney provides a great illustration of hiring a tennis coach and the ineffective versus effective methods that coach might take to help improve your game.

  • YOU WATCH ME – You show up for the first lesson and he suggested that you observe as he played for the next hour. You’d probably ask for your money back.
    • When we model an entire lesson, it assumes that transfer is as easy as watching and doing. This can lead to an uneven relationship that puts the teacher in a passive role.
  • I WATCH YOU – What if he suggested that he spend the hour observing you? He’ll take some notes and then the two of you will go through it later. Again, you’d be wondering why you are paying this guy.
    • On the other hand, observing teachers may feel more like evaluation than coaching. If my tennis coach took this approach, I’d be anxiously wondering what he really thought, if I looked silly, or if I was on the right track in my game.
  • I WILL BRING YOU THE MATERIALS – What if he suggested that you focus on your game and, since you are so busy, he will help you out by picking up your balls? You would be wondering when this guy actually planned to provide you with some coaching.
    • When we serve as resource providers, we are being helpful at the expense of coaching. There is no question that teachers are overwhelmed and busy. But this is all the more reason to get in there and coach the teachers towards their goals for teaching and learning.

Ha, it is easy as a reading specialist to see how one might fall into each of these roles!  Diane goes on to describe what a good coach might do:

  • Most of us would define a good coach as someone who helps you get better at your game. Someone who is on the court, by your side, making sure you reach your goals.
    • This is co-teaching!

Here is what is GREAT about co-teaching:

  • In a classroom where co-teaching is occurring, it’s hard to tell who the teacher is and who the coach is, because both are engaged and involved partners in the delivery of the lesson.
  • To get there, the teacher and coach develop a shared vision through co-planning and then work side-by-side to ensure that they get the results they are looking for.

Here are four strategies for co-teaching as suggested in the Blog:

  • Noticing and Naming
    • Noticing happens when a teacher and coach are actively tuned in and looking for evidence of student learning.
    • Naming happens in the explicit use of this information, either on the spot or planning after the lesson, to make decisions about what the students need next.
  • Micro Modeling
    • When planning the lesson, the coach may ask, “What would you like to do? And what would you like me to do?”
  • Thinking Aloud
    • Examples of thinking aloud include; real-time problem-solving, clarifying vocabulary, supporting student engagement, or adjusting the pacing of the lesson to better align with the needs of the students.
  • Teaching in Tandem
    • With this move, the coach and teacher deliver a lesson as partners rather than as individuals.

If you have ever been fortunate enough to co-teach you know it is a lot of work BUT the work is rewarding and fun!


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