We Coach Teachers

We coach teachers — one-on-one and in small groups in the classroom — to provide them with demonstrations and feedback that will help them incorporate effective literacy practices into their daily work with students. Research has proven that coaches and mentors are found to be highly effective in helping teachers implement new skills.

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In order to truly change practices, professional development should occur over time and preferably be ongoing.

Continuous Practice

During the Implementation Stage, initial attempts to use a new teaching strategy are almost certain to be met with failure, and mastery comes only as a result of continuous practice despite awkward performance and frustration in the early stages. Without support during this phase, it is highly unlikely that teachers will persevere with the newly learned strategy. Research bears this out. When professional development merely describes a skill to teachers, only 10% can transfer it to their practice; however, when teachers are coached through the awkward phase of implementation, 95% can transfer the skill.

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Therefore, if districts want real changes in teaching practice, they have to provide ample and ongoing support during implementation. Studies show that effective professional development programs require anywhere from 50 to 80 hours of instruction, practice, and coaching before teachers arrive at mastery.

Content Focused Coaching

Our coaching model is content-focused and designed to provide teachers with individualized and situation-specific assistance focused on literacy content, pedagogy, and student learning. Content-focused coaching is based upon the belief that in order for teachers to be most effective, they need to know the content of that which they are teaching.


Pre-Conference: Teacher & PD Discuss
- Literacy Goals
- Lesson Plan & Implementation
- Core Issues in Effective Lesson Design

Lesson: Teacher & PD Decide
- If PD Models Lessons
- If PD & Teacher Co-teach Lesson
- If Teacher Teaches Lesson

Post Conference: Teacher & PD Reflect
- Student Learning & Work
- Effective Instruction in the Lesson
- Goals & Plans for Future Lessons

Lesson Design & Implementation

  • Lesson Goals
  • Lesson Plan & Design
  • Literacy Content of the Lesson
  • Context of the Lesson
  • Prior Knowledge of the Students
  • Implementation of the Lesson
  • Evidence of Students' Understanding & Learning
  • Collaboration in a Learning Community

I Do, We Do, You Do

Watching a Coaching Session

The reason traditional professional development is ineffective is that it doesn't support teachers during the stage of learning with the steepest learning curve: implementation.

In the same way that riding a bike is more difficult than learning about riding a bike, employing a teaching strategy in the classroom is more difficult than learning the strategy itself.

In several case studies, even experienced teachers struggled with a new instructional technique in the beginning. In fact, studies have shown it takes, on average, 20 separate instances of practice, before a teacher has mastered a new skill, with that number increasing along with the complexity of the skill.

Rather than leaving it to best intentions or chance to have good ideas transfer into good practice, we follows teachers from the training room to the classroom with tailored high-quality coaching in dosages that research and our own evaluation indicate are necessary to impact student learning.

The largest struggle for teachers is not learning new approaches to teaching but implementing them.

"My coach did not just tell me to do things, she showed me how, made me feel comfortable and not afraid to try new things. That is why I have been successful."
Chicago Teacher