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ILA's Latest Brief Helps Literacy Coaches Choose the Right Instructional Model

By Alina O'Donnell
 | Mar 14, 2018

March briefNot 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. Drawing these meaningful distinctions can help teachers and coaches to make an informed decision on the most suitable model.

With the ever-increasing emphasis on reading achievement in today’s schools, many districts are hiring literacy coaches to support teachers. The past two decades have given rise to a wave of major federal and state literacy initiatives that have significantly accelerated the expansion of coaching programs across the United States.

The growth in the scale and diversity of instructional programs has engendered a critical need to define the varying roles and responsibilities of the literacy coach. Although each literacy coach–teacher relationship may have its nuances, the brief says three models of coaching for change are worth noting in detail: coaching to conform, coaching into practice, and coaching for transformation:

  • When coaching to conform, the coach provides expertise and direction on how to implement the features of a program under adoption.    
  • The coach assuming a practice perspective supports teachers in understanding classroom experiences, focusing on students as “the context for teaching growth through reflection.”
  • When aiming for transformation, the coach creates spaces where teachers can challenge their own practices as well as the historical power structures that operate within schools.

The brief then provides guidance on how to choose a coaching model that’s in line with the teacher’s ideological beliefs, context, and goals. The International Literacy Association further conceptualizes the role of coaches and other specialized literacy professionals in Standards for the Preparation of Literacy Professionals 2017.

Alina O'Donnell is the communications strategist at ILA and the editor of Literacy Daily.

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