What’s a literacy coach, anyway?

In her book, The Literacy Coach’s Survival Guide (p.46), Cathy Toll says that when she meets with teachers for the first time, she asks them:

When you think about

the kind of reading and writing you want your students to do, 

the kind of literate lives you want your students to have,

the kind of classroom you want to have, 

the kind of teaching you want to be able to do, 

what gets in your way?

It is a literacy coach’s job to help a teacher to eliminate these roadblocks and create the kind of classroom he or she envisions.

What Does a Literacy Coach Do?

The Literacy Coaching Clearinghouse, run by the International Reading Association and the National Council of Teachers of English, says that the role of a coach is to support teachers:

1) to become more reflective,

2) to refine what they are doing,

3) to set goals for their teaching, and

4) to share with others their attempts to make changes in their classrooms.

Katherine Casey, in her book  Literacy Coaching, The Essentials (2006, p.4), says that literacy coaches:

  • work alongside teachers in classrooms, demonstrating instructional strategies and guiding teachers as they try on the strategies;
  • evaluate students’ literacy needs and collaborate with teachers to design instruction to meet those needs;
  • provide teachers with ongoing opportunities to learn from and with each other; and
  • help design and facilitate professional development sessions tailored to address issues facing teachers and students.


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