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Career Story: Reading Coach At A Rural Elementary School

Reading Coach At A Rural Elementary School

Job Title: Reading Coach

Type of Company: I work for a small rural school in a school district in North Carolina.

Education: BS, Early Childhood Education, North Carolina A&T State University •• MS, Curriculum & Instruction, AIU University

Previous Experience: I taught 2nd & 3rd grades for twenty-five years before becoming a reading coach.

Job Tasks: My primary responsibility is to go into the kindergarten through third grade classes and monitor the reading block. This reading block is a protected 90-minutes of uninterrupted teaching. I look to see if the teachers are starting on time, if they are teaching skills explicitly... using good definitions and lots of examples, involving the students by practice, dialogue, etc. I watch to see if they are teaching phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension; if they are using the core program; if they are using testing and assessment data to drive instruction; if they are differentiating instruction, etc.

I also share the results of my assessment data and we collaborate on the skills that need to be taught or reviewed, and how the students should be grouped. As a coach I offer support and staff development based on each teacher's needs. I come up with center activities when needed; offer suggestions based on scientific research and best practices; attend staff development meetings, facilitate grade level and data meetings, do research, order reading materials, oversee the testing that is mandated by the state, and plan various programs and events that support reading: "Literacy Night," the monthly parent literacy newsletter, poetry month activities, etc. I am constantly adding materials to our professional library which I share with the teachers on a regular basis.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of the job is observing what's going on in each classroom: the various teaching and learning styles, student engagement and participation, and student growth. I also enjoy attending workshops and gaining new information on how to teach reading.

The worst part of the job is telling teachers that they need to improve or work on improving certain areas such as lesson delivery, monitoring, classroom management, organization skills, etc.

Job Tips:
1.) Develop good relationships with the staff.

2.) Be willing to learn and share all you can. Know what you are talking about.

3.) If your administrator is not on board with what you're doing, than it makes your job harder to do. So seek another school if the administrator is not supportive.

4.) Learn to multi-task as you wear many hats.

Additional Thoughts: I think you have to like children and adults to be a good coach. You must have a desire to be a lifelong learner. You must be unbiased and fair in your decisions. You must have a "tough" skin because you are sometimes blamed for everything that goes wrong. You need to have a good working relationship with your principal and assistant principal or they can make your life and job miserable.

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