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.

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.


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?

From Somewhere to Somewhere

Brian Sepe struggles in a coaching cycle with an experienced teacher and realizes he has imposed his agenda on the work. His reflection leads to some changes in the ways he collaborates with colleagues.

Coaching for Confidence

No matter their level of skill or experience, teachers can find their confidence shaken. Melanie Quinn analyzes some of the reasons for teacher insecurity, and how literacy coaches can help.

Who Keeps You Up at Night?

Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan ask this question to launch a discussion of one challenging learner and open teachers to the possibilities of case studies.

Erasing the Lines in the Sand

Gretchen Taylor finds that many of us are more opinionated than ever, but literacy coaches will never find a home in classrooms without suspending judgment.

The Stories We Tell Ourselves

Gretchen Taylor reflects upon a poor relationship she develops with an instructor, and how the narratives we construct can inhibit our professional interactions with colleagues.

Always "On": Reconsidering Connectivity

Gretchen Taylor writes about the promise and peril of new tech tools that allow teachers, students, and coaches to always be connected. She shares some questions to help teachers make wise choices about how they will use these tools in classrooms.

Managing the Email Load

Jennifer Schwanke explains how she categorizes her emails and streamlines the time she spends reading them.


Ruth Ayres realizes that sometimes the most important advice coaches can give to teachers is to just hang in there when things don't go as planned in reading workshops.

A Test Run for Difficult Decisions

Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan describe a four-part protocol they use for working through their most challenging decisions.

Aligning Beliefs and Practices: Homework Policies

Melanie Quinn shares the process of coming up with a schoolwide homework policy that aligns beliefs and practices across grade levels.

Helping with Management Challenges in First Grade

Melanie Meehan is coaching a first-grade teacher struggling with management. She shares her top four strategies for focusing students during minilessons.

Always Another Choice

Ruth Shagoury finds herself checking out during dysfunctional staff meetings. A mentor shares an anecdote and advice that helps her rethink her role with colleagues.

Coaching Relationships: Move Closer

Melanie Quinn has a poor start in her coaching relationship with a teacher. She begins again by going against her natural instincts, and is surprised by the results.

Leading a Demonstration Lesson: When It Doesn't Go Well (VIDEO)

In this brief video, Jennifer Allen talks in a leadership team meeting about the unsettling but valuable feedback she received from a principal and teacher on a demonstration lesson that didn't go well, and the reflection the feedback sparked.

Struggling Teachers? Don't Force It

Melanie Quinn confronts the dilemma that vexes many coaches: how to support strugglng teachers who are required to receive coaching, whether they want the help or not.

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