In a rural Hawaiian school, a literacy coach helps three teachers see when it's important to go beyond the script.
In the struggle to raise U.S. students' achievement, the focus is back on the tall people in classrooms—teachers and administrators. In language arts and literacy, the emphasis has shifted from finding the right materials to creating great teachers—even out of mediocre ones. Enter literacy coaches, who intervene at the classroom level to raise student achievement by raising teachers' skills. Because coaches focus on the adults in the room, the learning needs of adults are their foremost concern (Walker, 2010).
This was not always the case. In its earliest manifestations, literacy coaching was funded through No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and Reading First legislation, and too many coaches acted as school administrators' eyes and ears. They ensured that teachers implemented Reading First with fidelity and that each classroom was on the same page—sometimes literally. These models put more stock in materials than in teachers as professionals. But as it has become clear that teachers—not scripted programs—teach, the reading coach's evaluative role has been replaced with one of supporting and advancing teachers' development.
The Need for Relationship