“For a literacy improvement effort to move forward, people with expertise in literacy need to be involved in making decisions and in developing and implementing the literacy action plan” (Irvin, Meltzer & Dukes, 2007, p. 209). Classroom teachers may not have the expertise needed to support reading initiatives. The school administrator will need to understand the teacher’s strengths and needs and provide support in the form of other experts when needed. The school administrator may also have to address needs that are not apparent to the teacher. This conversation can be challenging and requires preparation and skills, but is necessary in order to improve.
- Connect with the literacy lead to discuss the reading plan, connections to the Education Sector Strategic Plan and other initiatives and opportunities that include learning about reading.
- Be aware of staff strengths and needs. This may be formally accomplished by doing a staff inventory .
- Using literacy teams is a common method for teachers to actively engage in the teaching and learning cycle focused on reading. Establishing literacy teams is important and valuable work that must be actively monitored by school administrators. There are several templates and resources available to monitor the work of literacy teams.
- Challenging conversations are easier with preparation.
Tips for challenging conversations
- Focus on one or two key points.
- Keep comments clear, direct and as impersonal as possible.
- Bring conversation back to beliefs, data and commitment to improving student learning.
- Provide examples to support your observations or insights.
- Provide options to support an improvement plan.
Resources to support challenging conversations:
Patterson, K., Grenny, J., McMillan, R., Switzler, A. (2002). Crucial conversations: Tools for talking when stakes are high.
Abrams, Jennifer. (2009). Having hard conversations.
Ontario Principals’ Council. (2011). The Principal as Leader of Challenging Conversations.
*See References section for complete citation.