Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Supporting Teachers

When I first began teaching the only coaches in the school system were athletic coaches. Now there are many different types of coaches. Today we have weight loss or health coaches, relationship coaches, parent coaches, business coaches, life coaches, career coaches, and a smorgasbord of other coaches. One of the newest kinds of coaches in schools are literacy coaches.

When I began teaching there were reading specialists in the schools. Although their role wasn't exactly the same as a literacy coach, I had the luxury of working with a wonderful reading specialist, Jane. One of the most positive experiences we shared was when she proctored while I administered the California Achievement Test to my first graders. I remember being absolutely terrified to give this test because I had never given a test to a whole class. We were instructed to read the teacher's manual and follow the instructions. While I was reading the directions to the class I remember thinking.....am I reading too fast...too slow...or placing too much emphasis on certain words? When we took a restroom break, I talked to Jane about how nervous I was...and she offered to let me observe her administer the next portion of the test. I gladly accepted, not knowing this was an opportunity that many people never have. By observing Jane administer the test I was able to notice the way that she read the items in her regular "talking voice". Her expression was completely neutral and she never placed particular emphasis on any of the words. Watching her gave me the confidence I needed to administer the next portion of the test. Jane encouraged me and let me know if I needed to slow down or speed up and if my tone was neutral she let me know. From this year forward, I never doubted my abilities to administer a test. Thank you, Jane for helping me learn how to administer a standardized test. Thank you, literacy coaches, for giving our teachers' confidence.

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