How will you lead today?

Tough Nuts

A teacher who refuses to work with her grade-level team to design new units. A principal who is always upending your schedule with new responsibilities. A literacy coach who is in tears because she feels so isolated.  A participant who continually interrupts an in-service session with “Yeah but . . .”

Tough Nuts are not easily defined, but you know one when you see it. They are the challenges that sit at the center of your forehead in the dead of night, robbing you of sleep. The stories of how we’ve dealt with these ongoing and immediate challenges are here.

Fail to Learn

What's the grade level you would least like to teach? Matt Renwick explains why you need to confront your fears and do a demonstration lesson with those students. In Matt's case, the lesson involved entering the wonderful world of kindergarten.

Resisting Traditional Definitions of Productivity

Matt Renwick explores the differences between commonly accepted measures of productivity and the work that has the most value for literacy leaders.

A Change in the Weather: Moving from Teacher to Coach

Ruth Ayres finds that coaches can't help but feel a little ambivalent about losing their teaching role, but it's important to embrace the changes in responsibilities if you want to coach well.

Talking in Front of Peers

Jennifer Schwanke realizes it is never easy to talk in front of adults. She explains how she helps teachers accept the challenge of speaking to colleagues in professional development settings.

To Celebrate or Not

One parent is adamant that Black History Month should be celebrated. Another parent is adamant that observing Black History Month trivializes blacks. What's a literacy leader to do? Jen Schwanke brings up the thorny issues involved during a staff meeting.

Leadership Shifts

This is the time of year when principals and literacy coaches are weighing which teachers might take on leadership roles next year and which teachers in leadership roles might be relieved of these duties. Jennifer Schwanke shares her process for this delicate work.

Getting Emotional

It happens at least once a year for Jennifer Schwanke: she finds herself on the verge of crying in a professional setting. Here's her best advice for literacy leaders to keep the tears at bay.

The Awkward Chair

Jennifer Schwanke explains how literacy leaders are often in "the awkward chair"—the position of having to explain painful truths to others. She has tips on how to handle the hot seat in meetings and discussions with colleagues and parents.

Allocating Services

Jennifer Schwanke shares principles for leading those awkward meetings when staff need to decide between too many students who need a finite amount of services.

Culture for Coaching Part 2: Resistance to Cycles

Ruth Ayres faces passive defiance when teachers learn they will be participating in coaching cycles as part of a school improvement plan. This is the second installment in a four-part series on building a culture for coaching within a resistant staff.

Culture for Coaching Part 1: Introduction

A failing grade for a school was splashed across the local newspaper and resulted in mandated coaching. It wasn't a recipe for success. Ruth Ayres explains how she built a coaching culture under challenging circumstances. This is the first article in a four-part series.

Meeting Mind-Set

Protecting Your Coaching Time

Dana Murphy reflects on some of the mistakes she made early in her coaching career, as well as what her standards are now for making the best use of limited time.

Telling Our Story

Cathy Mere is keenly aware that coaching positions can be expendable during budget crunches. She and her coaching colleagues are proactive in explaining their value by creating a series of graphic representations of their work.

Do or Die

Melanie Quinn deals with a panic-stricken young teacher near tears after a lousy evaluation. She explains what she did to move him past emotion and into a plan to improve his instruction.

Literacy and Last Days: Keeping It Simple

Matt Renwick knew he didn't want any showy event for the last day of school, so he concentrates on finding quiet ways to celebrate reading and writing that don't stress staff or students.

School Leaders and Written Communication

Jen Schwanke is horrified at the quality of writing she receives when teaching a graduate course for school leaders. The experience gets her thinking about what motivates writers of all ages.

Teacher Guilt

Feeling guilty about the quality of instruction is a common state for teachers. Kathy Provost gives some practical tips on how a literacy coach can help build teacher confidence in authentic ways.

Benched

Ruth Ayres explores what literacy coaches can do when they are sidelined or marginalized by different conditions in a school.

Sustaining Trust While Maintaining High Expectations

Matt Renwick tackles a tricky issue for literacy leaders. How do you build a relationship of trust when there are clearly issues with the quality of a teacher's instruction?

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