My Evolution as a Literacy Coach

In my role as Literacy Coordinator at the Richmond Middle School, I wear many hats, one being a literacy coach. Planning and collaborating with, observing, and providing feedback to both new and veteran teachers is a complex undertaking which I hesitated to jump into until I more fully understood the many facets of coaching. Professional development can so often be disconnected from our daily work in schools. What I found at UVEI/UVGSE was a group of professionals who gathered in the evenings or on weekends for classes which had a direct and practical connection to the work I was doing on a daily basis at Richmond Middle School (RMS). I learned how to consider, examine and articulate each phase of the coaching process. Although it took some time for me to feel comfortable with the stances of a coach and the process of working with a colleague who wants to improve their practice, my participation gave me the boost I needed to gain confidence and take the leap into instructional coaching.   

The evolution of my position as a Literacy Coordinator has led me to take a second graduate course at UVEI/UVGSE. With SBAC scores finally arriving and Track My Progress data at our fingertips, teachers and administrators pondered what we do with all the numbers. Looking at data can be overwhelming, especially when there isn’t a firm foundation of statistical understanding. As I looked around at various offerings for professional development, the course on Data-Based Inquiry fit perfectly into what we needed at RMS. Using the Data Wise process, our RMS data team is digging into data, identifying a learner-centered problem, and moving on to examining instruction. Our ultimate goal is improving practice to maximize student learning.  

Both courses -- coaching and data-based inquiry -- bolstered my professional learning when it was most needed and have directly impacted the work we are doing at RMS. I am thankful for my colleagues at RMS, the faculty at UVEI/UVGSE, and the educators who came together to work towards the goal of creating a better learning environment for students.

Story by Becky Wipfler

Becky Wipfler is the Reading and Literacy Coordinator at Richmond Middle School in Hanover, NH.