The centerpiece of the WriteBoston model is school-based coaching. Writing coaches serve as the link between teachers, curricula, and the series of authentic writing activities that WriteBoston brings to schools. The coaches – seasoned instructors with years of classroom experience and professional writing backgrounds – provide tailored support to teachers from all disciplines in every aspect of the writing process.
Writing coaches work with teachers – both new and experienced – as well as administrators (principals, department heads, etc.) to infuse the school with instructional resources and professional development opportunities and to encourage student participation in writing.
What this looks like can vary:
The coach meets one-on-one with teachers during planning periods to help develop units and lessons, create writing assignments, and devise effective teaching strategies. The coach then follows up in the classroom with co-teaching or observation.
The coach meets weekly with a department or teacher teams to provide writing workshops, reflect on student writing, and develop and align school-wide language and practices for teaching writing.
The coach works collaboratively with administrators to design writing curricula and assessments that build naturally from grade to grade.
The coach facilitates school-wide professional development on a particular aspect of literacy across the curriculum.
At some schools, students get additional writing support from trained volunteer tutors in a Writing Center.
Through the delivery of effective professional development, WriteBoston has increased student achievement everywhere we work. In the seven schools where WriteBoston currently works, the Advanced/Proficient rates on the ELA portion of MCAS exams have grown by an average of 33% from the year WriteBoston started working with teachers and students. Scores have improved the most in schools where WriteBoston has worked the longest.
Sustained, side-by-side coaching results in powerful, lasting adult learning. When surveyed, 84% of teachers called their WriteBoston coaching experience “significantly more valuable” or “more valuable” compared to other professional development experiences they had participated in during the year. With coach support, teachers build their toolbox of writing strategies, integrate the writing process into their daily instruction, grow their confidence in using writing as a vehicle for student learning, and embed literacy practices that align with instructional goals.
Why WriteBoston Coaching Works
Real, deep change in teacher practice comes when professional development is targeted, gradual, and interactive, when teachers are challenged as learners and gain better pedagogical methods as well as new strategies for teaching the content.
WriteBoston coaches tailor their coaching to the school, the course, the teacher, the students, the individual set of needs. Teachers note the flexibility of the WriteBoston approach. Coaches do not insist on one methodology. Rather than provide expertise using a top-down model, WriteBoston coaches play a supporting role. Coaches help teachers do their job, and do it better.
WriteBoston coaches train teachers not only in the “what” but the “how” of teaching writing. WriteBoston coaches provide materials and resources as well as the methods of delivery and instruction. Coaches examine what teachers do, encourage and refine what works, and identify and improve areas of weakness.
WriteBoston coaches are accessible as teachers learn. While teachers are planning and implementing, they continually check back with their coach for trouble-shooting and adjustments. Few professional development models offer this ongoing follow-up service.