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“She Was My Backbone”: Measuring the Impact of Literacy Coaching. Kelly Feighan, Research for Better Schools Dr. Elizabeth Heeren, Memphis City Schools. http://www.ed.gov/programs/strivingreaders/awards.html. Grantee: Memphis City Schools Memphis, Tennessee Total Grant Award: $16,074,687
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Kelly Feighan, Research for Better Schools
Dr. Elizabeth Heeren, Memphis City Schools
No certification available in state of Tennessee (and many other states)
Standards for coaching not set (we used IRA and NCTE as a guide)
Roles are undefined and differ depending on context
The data collection tool used was designed by the team after one year of coaching experience in the grant. Slight modifications were made after beginning use, and the tool has now been used for 3 years.
95.2% of 62 teacher survey respondents reported “I can confide in my coach.”
“She has been so available for me as a literacy coach… I don’t know what I would have done without her assisting me…we’re just basically working as a great team together.” (MSRP Focus Group Report, 2007)
“Equipping middle and high schools with trained literacy coaches is at least one line of attack to combat “the quiet resignation that seems to pervade education circles…that little if anything can be done” (Joftus, 2002, pg. 1).
“I think literacy is so important because no matter what they do or where they go they are going to run into something they have to read… if they have to apply for a job, it requires them to be able to read…” (2007)
Focus Group Findings: Wave One
Teachers shared universally positive perceptions about coaching support. Stated one teacher:
“She’s there. She’s not intrusive. She never comes off as being a judge, a threat. If she comes in, and if she sees something that wasn’t going like it should, she would offer advice, tips, as opposed to ‘Well that wasn’t right’ and leave. She would say ‘Maybe you should try something like this.’ ”
Despite initial growing pains related to scheduling issues, coaches were highly valued:
“My coach tends to be hard to find sometimes… But she’s very helpful I’ve always found… I’ve had some struggles… being a first-year teacher, and she took time out to help me plan a different lesson altogether, trying to figure out how to teach them, how to write better sentences… Actually it’s been a great resource even though it does seem she’s stretched a little too thin.”
“She did ask… but I told her ‘No, no. Just go over what I need to do and I’ll take care of it.’ ”
“She has been so available for me as a literacy coach… I don’t know what I would have done without her assisting me… We’re just basically working as a great team together.”
“I’m very impressed with [the coach] this year. Last year we were trying to figure each other out (or her role or my role or something), but this year– Well, every time I’d look for her last year, she wasn’t around. I’d ask for something and I couldn’t get it, but this year she is dynamite.”
“Basically, the literacy coaches are there to help you and sometimes we as teachers, as secondary teachers, we don’t like to open our classrooms up to other people to come in and show us things.”
“My students have definitely improved a lot. I have a couple of students who haven’t, but I’ve had students who’ve already like, over two years of growth by their mid-year assessment...”
“I think some of the strategies have given them– they want to do things. They’re not as apprehensive as they once were, especially when it comes to fluency.”
“Some have improved, but if they are nonreaders, they’re still nonreaders. It did not help. But those that were struggling, it gave them a different avenue to use, a different method, a different strategy.”