Each year, educators with a variety of roles and titles turn to Literacy Collaborative for training. The program’s foundations are rooted in evidence and work to support school improvement to reach high literacy outcomes for each child.

Ongoing professional learning

Building educator capacity nationwide through professional learning

Rachael Gabriel, PhD
Rachael Gabriel,
Associate Professor,
Literacy Education,
University of Connecticut

Recently, Literacy Collaborative at The Ohio State University, a comprehensive school reform project designed to improve the reading, writing and language skills of elementary and middle level children, hosted its annual spring professional learning conference. Administrators, district trainers, and literacy coaches from districts across the state and nation attended the three-day online event. Topics covered in breakout sessions ranged from considering the relationships between writing, identity and cultural responsiveness, to exploring Fountas and Pinnell’s Phonics, Spelling and Word Study System.

Rachael Gabriel, associate professor of Literacy Education at the University of Connecticut, served as guest speaker. Rachael’s research is focused on literacy instruction, leadership and intervention, as well as policies related to teacher development and evaluation. Her current projects investigate supports for adolescent literacy, state literacy policies, and discipline-specific literacy instruction.

“A cornerstone of our framework is dynamic, long-term professional development. Our Ohio State affiliated trained Literacy Collaborative coaches look forward to these professional learning opportunities each fall and spring to continue their learning growth in order to support teachers and students,” said Jamie Lipp, PhD, Mary Fried Endowed clinical assistant professor and lead of Reading Recovery and Literacy Collaborative in the Department of Teaching and Learning

Through participation, coaches enhance skills as literacy specialists and refine expertise to train other teachers on-site at the building level. “We work to create professional learning that facilitates educator flexibility, which promotes responsiveness to all children. The core of our investment is building educator capacity for recognizing what each child needs,” said Jenny McFerin, primary Literacy Collaborative trainer.

Trying by Kobi Yamada, Illustrated by Elise Hurst
Trying by Kobi Yamada. Illustrated by Elise Hurst.

Diane Deitrick, literacy coach at Urbana City Schools in Urbana, OH, said she always walks away from ongoing professional learning with Literacy Collaborative with ideas she can immediately use in the classroom. Deitrick also noted the benefits of exploring the opportunities for student and adult learning through high quality literature. “The professional and picture book texts are engaging and helpful. I really enjoyed the session that incorporated the text Trying by Kobi Yamada. It enabled me to think about text through a coaching lens and I received many helpful tips from the breakout collaborations.”

There was also a session dedicated to the Four Pillars of Literacy Collaborative. The four pillars include collective ownership of student outcomes, commitment to research-based instructional practices, the utilization of data-driven teaching and decision making, and investment in building evidence-based professional capacity. Adhering to these principles, ensures quality implementation of The Literacy Collaborative Comprehensive Literacy Framework and provides state standard professional learning.

Tiffany Davis, literacy coach in Leetonia Exempted Village School, Leetonia, OH, found value in this session. “Focusing on the four pillars challenges me to think about the framework and teaching in different ways,” said Davis. “It was also helpful to discuss learning standards for teacher professional learning.”

Literacy Collaborative Trainer Shelly Schaub led a session that outlined ways to boost coaching impact. Activities and discussions centered on techniques from the from the professional text The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More and Change the Way you Lead Forever by Michael Bungay Stanier. During the session attendees worked through coaching scenarios and reflected on learning with colleagues.

“It’s generative hearing from coaches in the field,” said Kathleen Fay, literacy coach in Fairfax County Schools, Fairfax, VA. “It’s a good way to learn more about leadership and communication.” I enjoyed the session, Partnering for Progress, where attendees shared thoughts around implementation in their schools and districts as well as ways to partner in success.” School administrators also participated in this session led by Sherry Kinzel, intermediate Literacy Collaborative trainer.

Literacy Collaborative Trainer, Wendy Reed, hosted Writing to Explore Identity and Promote Cultural Responsiveness. Attendees learned engagement strategies to explore and confirm identities while building the writing process through writing workshop within a culturally responsive community of writers. “By holding space for writing to be messy as we build on students’ funds of knowledge, writing workshop may be a liberating space for vulnerability and authenticity, ensuring our practice fosters an inclusive community of informed writers,” said Reed.