coaching · literacy coaches · writing workshop

Wrapping Up a Year (or years) of Literacy Coaching

As the end of the year grows closer, many of us literacy coaches are thinking about how to go out with a bang, and leave things in good shape for next year. As a literacy coach, I always have a few of the same things on my end-of-the-year to-do list — plus a few new ones this year.

  • Curriculum Calendars I view the curriculum calendar as one of the most important parts of my job as a coach. Supporting teachers to stay somewhat on the same page is critical to collaboration, sharing of data, and student work. A strong curriculum calendar speaks for itself and frees everyone up to move on to other professional learning goals. Here’s what I think makes a strong curriculum calendar:
    • Teachers have a strong say in how the calendar goes
    • The calendar includes a balance of narrative, informational, and opinion/argument writing
    • Teachers have resources to teach the units included in the calendar
    • There is some room for teacher choice and following students’ interest
    • Logistically, there is plenty of time in the school calendar to teach all the units (including the time it takes for end-of-unit assessments, feedback, celebration, and that inevitable time of year for state testing)

  • Assessment Plan Along with the curriculum calendar, the assessment plan is critical to leave in good shape before the end of the current school year. The curriculum plans and assessments need to line up, both in content and in timing, and teachers need time to digest all of the curriculum and assessment information well before the end of the current year so that questions and concerns can be addressed before summer break. Here are a few things that I can do as a coach to support teachers with changes to an assessment plan:
    • I can be sure they have access to a single, comprehensive document that outlines every assessment (that I know of) that will be administered in the following year
    • I can be sure that teachers have had the opportunity to ask me questions and express their concerns
    • I can do what I can to address their questions and concerns or direct them to a person who can help them
    • I can provide them with materials, resources, and research to help them plan for the assessments and understand how to use the data that they’ll be gathering
    • I can suggest some protocols for looking at data to use next year

  • Unit Plans Every year, our unit plans need some sprucing up. Whether it’s adding more resources to an outstanding unit plan that already exists, or drafting completely new units, there is always a lot of work to do. This year, for example, teachers and I are working together to COMPLETELY revise all of our core units to align with priority standards and learning targets. (We call them benchmark understandings in our district). Here’s what I’m attempting to do:
    • Create a template for revising our units
    • Create a few examples of revised units for teachers to see
    • Recruit as many teachers as I can to draft units alongside me
    • Create a supportive and comfortable environment, continue the strong releationships I have with teachers, so that we can give each other honest feedback
    • Share what we’re doing with transparency with all teachers, and keep inviting everyone to do this work with us

  • A System for Storing and Sharing All This Important Work This year, I’m creating a new website to house all of our curriculum documents so that teachers will be able to easily access all of the above resources (and a few other resources that I have in mind). As I do this, I’ve been reorganizing the scores of folders and files that have accumulated over the years. Wherever possible I’m combining multiple documents into one. I’m organizing everything into the fewest folders possible. I’m whittling down the number of resources that are stored on our website to only the most crucial things. Our website used to be a storage area for every handout and video that was every part of a workshop. Now it will only house the critical material and documents that are required for all teachers. Here are the categories I’ve settled on. If you’re a literacy coach, you might find this helpful for you as well:
    • Curriculum Handbook
    • Curriculum Calendars
    • Assessment Plans
    • Guides for Tier 1 Instructinon (Read-Alouds, Minilessons, etc.)
    • Guides for Tier 2 Instruction (Conferring, Small Group Work, etc.)
    • Tools for Progress Monitoring (Checklists, Conferring Sheets, etc.)
    • Unit Plans
    • Other Important Resources (I’ve become VERY selective about what makes it into this folder)

I know that many people (especially outside of schools) feel that the pandemic is far behind us and that things have returned to “normal.” In my work, and I suspect in yours as well, things are still not as they could be. Finding time with teachers is a struggle because of a shortage of substitute teachers. Teachers are reeling from the past few years of teaching online, Many of us need a lot more time to recover from our experiences with loss, illness, or loneliness during the pandemic. At this same time last year, many schools were still wearing masks and checking temperatures at the door.

As you wrap up your school year, dear literacy coaches, I hope that you also find time to reflect and celebrate all that you’ve accomplished this year. Perhaps you’ll send out a survey to teachers to gather their reflections on the year. Maybe you’ll organize a way to celebrate at your final meetings with teachers or other coaches. Or perhaps you’ll invite a small group of close colleagues to coffee. Whatever you decide, give yourself some room to reflect and wrap up the year in a way that makes you proud of the work you’ve accomplished this year — and over the past few years.

2 thoughts on “Wrapping Up a Year (or years) of Literacy Coaching

  1. Wow! What a comprehensive resource for coaches and teacher leaders, Beth!
    I love the idea of refocusing the website so it’s not a collection of EVERYTHING but instead is the “stuff” for all!


  2. Yes! To all of this. I am beginning to wrap up my year of literacy coaching as well and all of these are on my mind. Thanks for organizing everything into buckets, and for the suggestion of building out a teacher-facing website to house the most important teaching resources. Such a great idea!


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