Friday, April 24, 2009

Emergent Literacy Coaching Part II: Peer Coaching for Professional Growth

This is the second half of the workshop presented by Elaine Czarnecki and Dr. Gilda Martinez, also featuring Buff Kahn, the CCPL Lead Coach.

In this second half, the facilitators discussed peer conferencing, which is something we all need if we want to improve and grow and how to give parents tips on incoporating these skill sets into their daily lives and routines.

Peer Coaching
Peer coaching usually takes the following form, although it can be changed and adapted to meet individual needs.
  • Observe one another's storytimes
  • Self-reflect (in writing) on what went well and on what could use some improvement
  • Meet to share feedback and reflect with the peer who observed you
  • Discuss and review materials

Learning from one another is extremely important and essential to creating a learning organization!

Peer coaching is an excellent way to get help and improve upon your services in a supportive enviroment. These observations are not official; they don't have strings tied to them. They are simply for the benefit of the partners who get observed and who do the observing.

Effective coaches are

  • willing to reflect on their own practices as well as their peers'.
  • aware that not everything goes perfectly and that sometimes things unravel.
  • able to share their observations in a positive and constructive manner that supports and empowers their peers.
  • respectful, supportive, reflective, and trustworthy.
  • committed to coaching on a variety of levels and performances. This is not a one time deal!

Parent Tips

Most parents are not aware of all of the research on the skill sets that their children need to be prepared for school. It is essential that we provide this information to them in the form of tips during their visits to the library. When using one of the best practices, as explained in the previous post, you can insert a brief snippet or explanation as to why you are doing something the way you are and what benefit or skill it gives the children.

Or, the tip can be given at the end of the storytime verbally or by way of a handout. One way suggested was to put it on a chalkboard or dry erase board. This works especially for those who don't feel comfortable inserting these things in the flow of a story time.

Here is one of the examples I wrote to share in story time:

"Notice how I asked the children if they knew the meaning of the word "grumpy" and then defined it for them. Research shows that it is important to define new words for kids to help build their vocabulary and to assist them in identifying and associating them with the pictures represented in various books. What's great about this is that you can work on this same skill at home by defining words that you use in everyday conversation."

Again, it may interupt the natural flow of your story time, so if you don't feel comfortable presenting this information during, you can always do so afterwards in the aforementioned ways.

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