Teachers are Critical
Educators must have a deep understanding of the art and science of literacy instruction in order to develop lifelong readers.
Expert teachers know their students’ capabilities and needs, and they routinely implement student-centered formative assessments to monitor progress. They provide carefully guided and mentored literacy instruction that engages students in authentic and purposeful reading, writing, listening, and speaking activities with outcomes of meaningful text discussions, applications of concepts across the curriculum, and knowledge production. They approach literacy instruction comprehensively, integrating English language arts throughout the curriculum, supporting students’ connections across academic subjects, and building knowledge that is broad-based and useful for solving real-life problems.
Development of teacher expertise occurs over time and is supported by professional learning opportunities in which teachers learn new practices and address challenges that impact their teaching. Intensive and sustained professional learning is most likely to impact teachers’ instruction and their students’ achievement.
Literacy coaches can play an important role in developing classroom teachers’ expertise. When literacy coaches are part of the school’s instructional team, they are uniquely positioned and well qualified to mentor teachers’ professional learning. Collaborative work between coaches and teachers is established in collegial relationships, and depending upon the needs of the teachers, instructive cycles can include setting goals, joint lesson planning, coaching demonstrations, and teacher observations with feedback. Such support is particularly helpful for new teachers in their induction period and through their first years of teaching, building a foundation for strong practice.