Career Story: Middle School Literacy Coach

Middle School Literacy Coach

Job Title: Literacy Coach

Type of Company: I work in a middle school in Franklin County, North Carolina.

Education: BA, English and Elementary Education, Alma College •• MA, Education, Curriculum and Instruction, Virginia Tech •• continuing course work in education, literacy, ecology and natural resources, North Carolina Museum of Natural Science

Previous Experience: I was a reading specialist for the schools outside of Durham, North Carolina. I also worked as a reading instructor and professor in several colleges.

Job Tasks: As I mentioned earlier, I work as a literacy coach. My duties include the following: assessing student progress, making recommendations for remedial work in reading and writing, co-teaching with classroom teachers in all subject areas to increase literacy skills and helping teachers and students obtain the information and materials they need to assist with learning.

For example, I am currently working with the school's art teacher and her students to create autobiography/self-portrait projects. I created an outline, graphic organizer, rubric and peer editing checklist to evaluate student work. When all aspects of this project are complete, the students will host a "gallery walk" to present their work.

Another example: I work with an eighth grade science teacher and her students in comparing and contrasting scientific principles, strategies for test-taking and successful reading and writing results from experiments.

My job is to increase student reading and writing. I have extensive training in interactive strategies, adolescent learning, literacy and working with teachers. I am in a state-funded position that was part of the Governor's initiative to prevent student drop-outs. Research points out that many students who drop out of high school begin to withdraw from learning by eighth grade.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is co-teaching with excellent colleagues. When the process works best, we are each contributing our knowledge and techniques and successfully moving from teacher to teacher to facilitate student learning. When this "works", student achievement gains are significant (30 - 50% higher than on similar measures without collaboration).

Job Tips: If you think you might want to be a teacher, volunteer in a school as soon as possible during your education. In fact, volunteer in several schools for several different teachers. This will let you know what teaching is really like.

Teaching involves life-long learning. There are always new techniques, practices and information to learn and present to students.

Know that teaching is difficult, but it is rewarding. Not a day goes by that I don't think I've had a chance to influence a student in a positive way.

Additional Thoughts: Actual teaching is different from what is presented in college. That's why I suggest that a person who is interested in becoming a teacher volunteer in schools as soon as possible.

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