Special Guest Blogger: Penny Plavala

Through my work with the Center for Educational Leadership (CEL), I’ve had the pleasure to meet extraordinary literacy coaches from across the country. One of those individuals is Penny Plavala, who serves as a School Improvement Specialist for the Multnomah Education Service District in Portland, Oregon. With eleven years of classroom teaching experience in English, speech and drama, Penny provides statewide professional development training in literacy instruction and assessment. She has agreed to be a guest blogger and share her experience from our recent Coaching Institute:

In January, I had the pleasure of attending CEL’s Promise of Coaching Institute, spending two rich days with literacy coach and author, Katherine Casey.  In company with literacy coaches from across the country, I followed Katherine on a journey to discover the art of purposeful coaching.

I came away with numerous valuable “take away” concepts from the institute that I have immediately applied to my coaching work. Here are just a few:

To build leadership capacity, have two or three other teachers in the classroom whenever you are coaching or modeling a lesson. Teachers can join you during their prep period and will greatly benefit from sharing information and expertise.

• To scaffold teacher learning, demonstrate lessons in one teacher’s classroom three days in a row, rather than one day a week over three weeks.  This model strategically builds teachers’ knowledge.

• Whenever you demonstrate a lesson, find ways to actively engage teachers who are observing. They should stay close beside you in order to script your teaching, and when appropriate, navigate the room and check in with students.

Another benefit of this conference was the time given to process key concepts: individually, with a partner, and with my table group.  The time to reflect allowed for deeper thinking and future planning. I came away with fresh ideas and strategies I can use right away, as well as clearly established coaching goals. CEL is offering an expanded, 4-day Coaching Institute this summer in Seattle, and I highly recommend that you attend!


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