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Career Story: Literacy Coach In A Suburban Grade School

Literacy Coach In A Suburban Grade School

Job Title: Reading Specialist/Literacy Coach

Type of Company: I work in a school district in suburb of Boston.

Education: BA, Psychology, Clark University; •• MA, Literacy and Language, Framingham State College

Previous Experience: After being at home with my children for several years, I went back to college and got my master's degree. During that time, I worked as a Title 1 reading tutor for three years, working in classrooms with small groups of children. I then became the reading specialist in a grade 3-5 school.

Job Tasks: I split my time between teaching remedial reading to small groups of students and working as a literacy coach in classrooms. I also provide professional development in reading related subjects to the school district, and often select books for classroom use. When I do remedial reading (locating and correcting reading problems) with small groups (3-8 students), I first assess where the kids are, and where they should be, using a variety of assessment methods. After that, I try to schedule groups from different classrooms according to need. Sometimes that is impossible, though, and I often have students with different needs in a small group. I teach both fluency and comprehension using novels, picture books and poetry.

When I'm acting as a literacy coach, I work in tandem with a teacher in the classroom. I share ideas, give feedback, and try to modify activities the teacher employs that aren't supported by current research.

Professional development is not necessarily a part of my job, but I enjoy doing it and it has become routine for me. Developmental courses are typically for three credits and they can be taught either in person or online. I also provide shorter workshops and sometimes a half-day presentation.

When I pick out books for the school, I work with Scholastic Books at their book fair, or with Barnes & Noble to select material that meets the needs of each grade level. This is not something I do routinely because of funding, but it is an important part of my job.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of the job is working with the children. It is so rewarding to see the steps they take in reading and in other areas during the course of a school year. I also like to work with other teachers designing lessons and sometimes teaching them courses.

My least favorite part of the job is the paperwork that's required to document students' progress or to communicate how the students are doing to their classroom teachers.

Job Tips:
1. Continue learning both by taking classes and from people around you. This helps you not only stay interested and get new ideas, but it also helps you remain current with research, which is evolving all of the time.

2. It is useful, but not necessary, to be a classroom teacher before you work as a reading specials so that you understand the demands of teaching and you develop some tricks of the trade.

3. Enjoy kids!

4. Be prepared to take some work home, even in the summer, especially at first. Later, it gets easier when you have some experience and your lessons are prepared.

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