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.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

School Supplies: A Love Story

My daughter loves, loves, loves school supplies. I thought when she entered middle school she wouldn't need as many school supplies as we had purchased when she was in elementary school. How many middle school projects require crayons, markers, and glue? But, I was wrong. As soon as the school supplies hit the shelves, we made a mad dash to the store and she walked the aisles for hours. We had to be sure to go when we had plenty of time, because goodness gracious we couldn't hurry while shopping for school supplies. Selecting the "just right" color and texture of folders, the perfect pencils, and notebooks were critical to the successful start of the school year. When she entered high school, I was pretty sure the love of shopping for school supplies would end, but it didn't. The types of supplies changed a little...we began purchasing fancier pens and pencils and special folders and notebooks. When she began college there was no doubt in my mind the school supplies purchases were over. I was beginning to be a little sad about her being all grown up. Wrong! Not only did the school supplies purchases continue, but the repertoire of supplies expanded and I spent more money than ever on printers, cameras, and storage bins. My daughter became a teacher. I think that secretly in a small corner of her heart one reason is so she can legitimately continue to purchase school supplies. She just had her first baby....and the school year is beginning. She's not going to teach this year because she is staying home with her baby, but I know that more than likely she's already purchased a new notebook or pencils. She simply can't resist