Sunday, February 5, 2012

Literacy coaching in the 21st century

When I knew I would have the chance to be a literacy coach at my school this year I was so excited, planning and plotting over the summer about how to blend that role with my strong belief in a multi-modal approach to literacy in the classroom. 
It has been so busy this past month but also rewarding, with real feedback from teachers about the value of what I am trying to do. Unexpected and very very nice. 
I think that one of the main ways we have available to differentiate in the classroom is easy: using technology in all its forms to allow students to show what they know, and extend and personalize their learning. 
This year, with several periods a week built into my schedule for the literacy coach role, I now have that most precious commodity: time. 
With this time, I have been able to more formally prepare numerous lessons or units, in order to share. I have also started a little email newsletter. I had the chance to be a TWEA trainer and work with staff from other schools. 
Probably the biggest project for September was taking the time to formally role out the use of Smartboards, Smart Response and Smart Notebook in our school. I had the time necessary to prepare a little handout, check all teacher computers, coordinate any necessary tech support and most importantly meet one on one with my colleagues to introduce them to these tools. 
In 20 minutes they could easily see the value and more importantly express their confidence in expanding their personal use, in comparison to previous years when only two of us really took the plunge. It was really fun to hear their comments and observe the instant connections being made to the needs of various types of learners. 
I can guarantee that every person that I work with gets it. They really do see that technology can open up learning to the needs of individual students. But lack of time, minor but annoying tech difficulties, combined with teachers' personal learning styles, sometimes make it difficult to move forward. 
If I can spend less than half an hour with a teacher, removing barriers to their professional learning, presenting new strategies, and then see them finish up being inspired at new ways to differentiate learning, then I am a happy literacy coach.

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