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Katie Hearl

Dr. Buelow
EDCS 605
May 2, 2018
Literacy Coaching Project

Introduction

Lisa Keaka (pseudonym) is an 8th grade Special Education teacher. Mrs. Keaka teaches a

variety of classes, both in an inclusion setting and a self-contained setting. During a typical day,

Mrs. Keaka co-teaches one 8th grade ELA class, co-teaches two 8th grade Social Studies classes,

teaches two self-contained 8th grade ELA classes, and one self-contained 8th grade Study Skill

class. She currently has 14 students on her caseload, in which she is their case manager and

writes their Individualized Education Plans (IEP). Mrs. Keaka is a first year teacher, although

she is not new to the school as she was a substitute, emergency-hire substitute, and completed

her student teaching at the school at which she is currently employed. The school she works at is

identified as a Title I school, with a range of student diversity, abilities, and needs.

Based on the Levels of Coaching (Bean, 2004) chart, Mrs. Keaka would be categorized in

the Level 1 and Level 2 columns. Because she is a new first-year teacher, the main support

activity that would be beneficial is to conduct a literacy classroom observation with both

pre-observation and post-observation meetings. Within those two conversations, we ended up

having conversations that helped problem solve some of the challenges she was facing and I was

able to offer some literacy resources that might prove to be beneficial to her. Because I work

closely with Mrs. Keaka, she was extremely receptive to every aspect of this coaching

experience and wanted as much feedback and information that I could provide her.

Pre-observation session
For the pre-observation session, Mrs. Keaka and I met in her room during our common

PLC time . Before meeting with Mrs. Keaka, I knew there were a few things that I wanted to

accomplish with our pre-observation meeting. First, I wanted to lay project expectations out

clearly for her so that she knew that I was not there for any evaluative measure and that this was

more to help me develop my coaching techniques. Going into our meeting, I wanted to offer

some suggestions as to how this coaching cycle could potentially work so that she had some idea

of what she could expect. Prior to beginning the coaching conversation about the areas she

wanted to focus on, I took some time to explain the purpose of the project and what the desired

outcomes were. I made sure to emphasize that this was in no way to be evaluative or punitive at

all, to which she laughed and said, “Well, if it needs to be that way, just say it. You know how I

am; I love even that kind of feedback!” I reassured her that I would not be doing that and that the

role of a literacy coach is to be collaborative and supportive of teachers with whom they are

working, which led into a quick conversation about the difference between a literacy coach and a

reading specialist. I also emphasized that I am not a licensed literacy coach yet and that this

project was to help me develop my coaching style.

Because I work with Mrs. Keaka as a co-teacher on a daily basis, I knew previously of

her teaching style and of some of the successes and challenges she was having in a few of her

classes. When I asked her to do this project, she immediately replied with “You want to come to

my block 4 and 7?!” Both blocks are her self-contained 8th grade ELA classes, so I had a hunch

that she wanted to focus on some aspect of literacy within one of those two class periods. I began

our pre-observation session by asking the question, “When you think of the reading and writing

that you want to do in your class, what seems to get in the way? What prevents that?” The first
response that came to her was about behavior and classroom management. She notices that while

students know the expectations of how to behave in her classroom, she sees behaviors like name

calling, bullying, and not following set procedures. We then proceeded to talk about her most

challenging class (block 4) as the class that she wants helps with. When I asked how many

students are in that class, she replied with “It feels like 30, but in reality, 6”. All students except

for one qualify for IDEA services under a Specific Learning Disability (SLD). The other student

qualifies under Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I followed the advice of both Toll and

Allen and did not say anything or offer follow up questions to just let her talk.

After sharing a bit more about the dynamics of the class and what she is seeing, I asked

her a follow up question about student engagement. I knew that her students were in the process

of reading a modern-English/Shakespearean-English hybrid Reader’s Theater script of

“Midsummer Night’s Dream” because she has closely been following what other 8th grade ELA

teachers are teaching all year. We discussed how her students did not seem to be engaged at all

in the story, unlike other 8th grade students who were caught up in the relationship drama and

love triangles that make up the story. The comprehension strategies that she was working on with

her students included visualizing and context clues. After talking a bit more, she asked if I could

focus on student engagement in regards to the literacy strategies she was already implementing

and her students’ understanding of the text during the observation.

Observation

The class I observed was Mrs. Keaka’s block 4 class. Because an emergency PLC

meeting was called during this class period, the teacher who was going to cover my class so I

could observe was pulled away. Luckily, Mrs. Keaka was able to digitally record her lesson so
that I was still able to observe. There are several aspects of Mrs. Keaka’s lesson that stood out

regarding literacy learning and practices. The lesson incorporated reading comprehension skills

and oral reading fluency practice. Mrs. Keaka took about six and a half minutes at the beginning

of class to review with students the reading comprehension strategies they were using while they

read. Students were not only able to discuss what strategies they should be using, but also why

they should be using them and how implementing them will make them better readers. The

student population that Mrs. Keaka works with oftentimes do not see themselves as readers. As

Buehl states, “as teachers, we can play a significant role in these dynamics of identity formation”

(p. 8). Mrs. Keaka puts this into practice by constantly reminding students of strategies they are

practicing and of their identities as readers. This also helps Mrs. Keaka create a caring literacy

community, which appears that most students feel a part of. Mrs. Keaka also does this with

addressing cultural and language needs of students in her class. Mrs. Keaka almost always uses

proper English with her students, but every once in a while uses Hawaiian Pidgin for a sentence

or two. Because almost all of the population that she works with uses Hawaiian Pidgin at home

or out in the community in some way, she is able to connect and communicate what the students

are reading in a way that they can personally, culturally, and linguistically connect with. See

Appendix A for observation notes.

Mrs. Keaka primarily wanted feedback on this observation about student engagement

with literacy practices. Based on this observations, there are several suggestions that I believe

may help her students engage with the content and class a bit more. First, while Mrs. Keaka is

does an excellent job at asking open-ended questions, I noticed that the same few students were

the ones answering the questions throughout the entire class period. A strategy that I would
recommend implementing so that all students had the opportunity to talk and the expectation to

participate would be to use Think-Pair-Share after asking an open ended question. Students at the

middle school level want to communicate and talk to one another and this would give them the

opportunity to do so in an appropriate way. Another literacy practice I would recommend for

student engagement would be to replace the round robin style reading that occured in the lesson.

There are many other ways to practice oral reading fluency and I believe that some of the

behavior that was occuring during the lesson was due to the fact that students would read their

one part and then could not pay attention until it came to their turn again. Because she is reading

a play and has a small enough class where everyone could have a role, I would recommend

passing out parts for the day and having students read as that character. This would hold them

accountable to tracking along and knowing where the class was at all times during reading.

Post-observation session

Prior to meeting up with Mrs. Keaka, I reviewed the notes I took during the observation

and the answers to some of the consideration questions. During our post-observation session, we

went over the notes that I took during the observation. I read to her what I noticed while I

observed and gave her the opportunity to clarify and add any details that I may have missed. I

asked her what she thought went well with her lesson and what she would have changed if given

the chance to teach it again. After that, we went over my two suggestions listed above and

discussed the benefits and challenges of both my suggestions. I then showed her the Iao Literacy

Resources website I created for my Professional Identity Choice Project. She was excited to take

a look at some of the reading comprehension strategies and was interested in implementing them

in future lessons.
The process for identifying, planning, and implementing a professional development plan

with Mrs. Keaka went relatively smoothly. Identifying the areas to work on as part of a coaching

cycle was relatively easy because there were two specific aspects of her lesson that stood out as

something to work and try different strategies in these areas. We mainly focused on

implementing different strategies to replace round robin reading. Planning the development plan

for the coaching cycle was something that we did collaboratively together, which worked out

well. I was able to give some suggestions and share some resources that would be beneficial for

her and related everything that I discussed to either the research and/or my own personal

teaching experiences, which is an important aspect of adult learning theory as Kistler (2011)

states “it is critical for educators to use real-world examples and scenarios that the learners can

understand and relate to their own life situations” (p. 30). As far as implementing some of these

different strategies, this coaching cycle did not include a follow up session to determine if the

implementation of these strategies were successful or not.

Reflection

Overall, this was a great first coaching experience. I believe it went well because Mrs.

Keaka is amazing to work with. She is receptive for any kind of feedback and was collaborative

and supportive of me during this process. Because we already have a fantastic co-teaching

relationship, we are able to be honest with one another in where we are at and offer support and

resources to the other. She was definitely harder on herself overall than I would ever imagine

being and there were many aspects of her lesson (as noted above) that supported literacy learning

in her classroom.
There were a few areas of challenge in this coaching process, albeit minor. Because we

are co-teachers, I did not want her to think that I was all of a sudden trying to become her

“supervisor” or be in a position of authority in any way (although I knew deep down that she

would never assume that I was trying to do that). In order to prevent that from happening, I

wanted to be abundantly clear of my role in all of this and gave her permission to let me know if

I was stepping in a position in which I have no authority. Another challenge for us was time and

the timing of our observation. As stated previously, because I teach a class during the block I

observed, we originally planned to have another great ELA teacher who was on her PLC cover

my class so I could observe. However, when on the day I was supposed to observe, an

emergency PLC was scheduled and our plan could not work. Luckily we solved this problem by

borrowing a video camera from a media teacher and recording her class period. We also ran into

the problem of scheduling a day to observe because during the past few weeks, she has had to

take some time off for illness.

Moving forward with coaching, there would be a few things that I would do differently. I

know that if I were in a literacy coaching position in a school, it would be much easier to

schedule observations and coaching conversations than this one was. In a real coaching situation,

I would be able to follow up on the suggestions for incorporating other literacy strategies in Mrs.

Keaka’s classroom, which I did not with this project.

I learned a lot from this experience, practicing what it would be like to be in a different

position other than classroom teacher. Prior to this course and this project, I felt like there would

be a lot of pressure on a literacy coach to “get it right” all of the time. However, this is not the

case and is reiterated by Toll (2014) when she says “To be candid, I’ve made practically every
possible mistake, both as a teacher and as a leader”. It is alright to be honest in not knowing and

being resourceful to find the answer. It is easier to do that with people with whom you already

have a good professional collegial relationship. I know that this experience would have gone

differently if I were working with one of the many resisters at my school. Because I began this

coaching experience with someone I was comfortable with, I was able to work out any of my

own insecurities about being a coach in a safe environment. I learned that it is difficult to focus

on what the teacher chooses to focus sometimes and not to force the teacher to work on

something that the coach wants to work on. I realized that it is tempting to put yourself in the

position of the other teacher and give coaching advice based on how the coach would teach the

lesson.

I also learned that literacy coaching is something that I enjoyed doing. Prior to this

experience, I believed that being a reading specialist appealed to me more than being a literacy

coach. However, now that I have completed a practice coaching session, I realized that I like

working with adults in improving or increasing literacy learning in the classroom. Literacy

coaching may be a position that I would like to step into in the future. It made me realize that

“coaches are system leaders” (Allen, 2016, p.177) who are needed to make assist in making

change happen across schools. When Allen (2016) describes her work as a literacy coach as “to

support the leadership team so that they have the tools needed to facilitate and share in the

district curriculum work with their peers--in essence, building capacity through growing new

leaders” (p. 167). I would love to work in a position where it helps support lasting change and

build literacy success within the school.


References

Allen, J. (2016). ​Becoming a literacy leader: Supporting learning and change. Portland, ME:

Stenhouse Publishers.

Buehl, D. (2011). ​Developing Readers in the Academic Disciplines. Newark, DE: International

Reading Association, Inc.

Kistler, M. (2011). Adult learners: Considerations for education and training. ​Techniques, 28-30.

Toll, C. (2014) ​The literacy coach’s survival guide: Essential questions and practical answers.

(2nd ed.). Newark, DE: International Reading Association


Appendices

Appendix A- Observation notes

When Teacher does/says Students...

Start of -Reminds students to take a look at the -Look at the agenda as they walk by to
class/Announcements agenda get their laptop
1:00-4:28 -invites them to get their laptops
-informs students that phone calls were
made yesterday if there were concerns -students listen. One student interrupts
about failing midterm grades for the class and says “Wait, when did you do that?”
-teacher answers student who interrupted
and continues talking about midterm
progress -two other students interrupt with
-teacher responds with “Hold up, I am questions at the same time.
speaking. Practice raising your hand and
waiting until I am done.” Teacher
continues with reminding students of how
many weeks left and what they need to do
to be successful for the end of the year.
-Teacher responds with “I’m not sure if
that was an appropriate question or not. -Students agree and listen. One student
You know I can’t do that”. begins whistling.

-Another students asks a question “Can


you grade air?”
Other student continues whistling

4:30-6:00 Expectations -Reminds students that they should have -Students get prepared for the learning
for class success two tabs open on their computer screen: activity
Midsummer Night’s Dream reading guide
and script.
-”We are on Act III Scene II. Make sure
you have your reader’s guide open.”
-Remind students of expectations for
reading

6:00-12:27 -Reviews what happens in the play. -Students respond to review questions.
Review Reading Review Puck and Oberon
Strategies -Asks students who want to start reading -No one volunteers
first
-Picks a student to read
- “If you’re not reading, what should you -”Tracking, listening, reading,
be doing?” annotating”
- “Why, what skills ties into this so you - “Visualizing, annotating”
know what to do when you read.” -Student begins whistling again
- “Visualizing helps you remember what -Student asks what act and scene they
you read” Writes the strategy under What are on
Should You Be Doing While You Read
chart on the board
-Teacher responds “Act II Scene III”
-Reviews annotating strategy and asks
why this is an important strategy

-”Why is tracking important?” -Students respond with “It’s easier to


Writes this strategy under chart on the find when you have to go back and
board look for something”
-Student responds with “So that you
know where you are in the story”
-Continues talking about tracking strategy. -Another student talks over the student
Pauses to direct student to look around responding with “What Ms., what?”
him to see what others are doing -Same student responds with “Wait
Ms. what page are we go on?”
-”These are strategies you can use for the
rest of your time here and when you go on
to high school. This will greatly improve
your reading comprehension. We’re going
to practice these while you read today”.

-Reviews summarizing with students

-Student responds with “Summaries


have only facts, no opinions”

12:28-23:40 -Students begin reading Act II Scene


III round robin style.
-Periodically pauses to ask comprehension -Student who begins reading chooses
questions the direction of the reading for round
robin
-One student gets up and begins to
walk around. Student sits back down
-Another student gets up and walks to
the back of the class. Sits back down
-First student who got up to walk
around interrupts reading by asking
“What page are we on? I lost the page”
-Third student gets up to blow nose
-Student gets up to use the restroom.
Didn’t have permission to go
-”Let’s pause and reset”

-Interacts with student who is signing out


to go to the restroom

“Have a seat, guys. Let’s reset. You don’t “Wait, where are we right now?”
need to be walking around right now”

“Listen up, guys. Track along” Students begin tracking and reading
again.

Phone call, answers it

“Pause, keep it together, don’t be a


distraction”

“What’s going on in this conversation “They’re arguing”


between Hermia and Demetrius?”
Continues explanation of what is going on Students keep answering questions
in the scene Two students are having side
conversation.
“Poor thing, Helena, yeah?” Student responds with “Yeah, poor
thing”
“Ok we’re going to pause right there and
go over to the reader’s guide. You are just
concentrating on this column here, just the
summary.”
“Yes, absolutely” “Wait, Ms. can we use the same
sentence starters as yesterday?”

23:41-30:06 “Your summary should have____” “Facts, no opinions”

“Let’s go back to what we read. What are Some students begin summarizing,
the most important parts that happened in others are doing something else
what we just read?”

“Guys, guys, guys, let’s make sure we are


on appropriate websites, otherwise there
are consequences for that”.

“So let’s summarize as a group. What did Student responds with “He messed up
we just read?” and he knows it”
“Good, but who is he?” “Stalker dude”
“Let’s start with In this scene____” Two other students begin arguing
“Gentlemen, we are not doing that” Students get back on task
“Puck is the one who messed up”
Leads students to finish the sentence.

Students add a few more sentences to


the summary

Special Motivation Teacher enters Student who was brought back states “I
classroom with student by saying “I found wasn’t cruising, I was using the
somebody cruising, so I figured I’d return bathroom”
him” Teacher leaves

“Ok, student’s name, you were right in the Student repeats


middle of a sentence. Can you repeat that
please?”

“We only have a couple minutes left, so Student who was brought back
make sure you’re reader’s guide is interrupts in the middle of instructions.
completely filled out.”
“Brother, I am in the middle of “No Ms. I was for real in the
instructions” bathroom”

Some students work on reading guide.


Others talk with one another across the
room

Context clues practice Teacher pulls up Kahoot on her board for Students pull up Kahoot site and enter
30:07-40:00 context clues practice the game site
Reminds students of Kahoot expectations
“What’s the first thing we look for when “Um...facts”
we see a word we do not know”
“I like that answer but I think there’s Students arguing about nicknames on
more. What’s our first step?” Kahoot or side conversations. Half the
class is waiting patiently to begin.

“You know what guys, we are wasting “Can we start already?”


time. If you are choosing not to participate Students continue to not follow the
and not participate appropriately, you are directions
missing out on 10 points”

“Alright, I only see one person ready so


unfortunately, we will not be doing
Kahoot today if you can’t follow simple Students try to argue but eventually get
instructions. Log off and put the laptops up and put laptops away.
away.”