Supporting Literacy Teachers with Actionable Content-Based Feedback

We’re pleased to present this guest post from Drs. Alyson Lavigne and Mary Lynne Derrington, instructional leadership experts and authors of Actionable Feedback to PK-12 Teachers.

This is Part 2 of a four-part series on actionable feedback. Stay tuned for the next posts that will focus on Leadership Content Knowledge (LCK) and teacher feedback in the area of Early Childhood Education.

Missed the beginning of the series? Click here to read Part 1 on making teacher feedback count, or Part 2 on content-based feedback in STEM!

A strong literacy foundation in students’ early years is critical for success in their later ones. School leadership plays a significant part in establishing this foundation by equipping teachers with the right professional development. 

Many (but not all) school leaders are versed in effective literacy instruction. Given its foundational importance, it is wise for principals — and others who observe and mentor teachers — to leverage the key elements of effective literacy instruction in the observation cycle. In this blog post, we outline two ways to do so.

Jan Dole, Parker Fawson, and Ray Reutzel suggest that one way to use research-based supervision and feedback practices in literacy instruction is to include in the observation cycle tools, guides, and checklists that specifically focus on literacy instruction, such as:

These tools highlight key concepts or what can be called “look-fors” of literacy rich environments by using a rubric or checklist. Some examples follow:

  • Strategy Use and Instruction: The teacher’s ability to teach strategies and skills that supports students in reading, writing, speaking, listening, and engaging with literature (PLATO)
  • Literacy Texts: Retell familiar stories, including key details (IES K-3; Kosanovich et al., 2015)
  • Vocabulary and Advanced Word Study: Explicit instruction is provided in using context clues to help students become independent vocabulary learners using literary and content area text (IES 4-12; Lee et al., 2020)

A second way is to develop professional learning communities (PLCs) to extend literacy supervision and feedback. Successful literacy-focused PLCs:

  • Establish a shared literacy mission, vision, values, and goals,
  • engage in regular collective inquiry on evidence-based literacy practices, and
  • promote continuous literacy instruction improvement among staff.

These strategies can be used by school leaders or complement the work of a school literacy coach. Ready to create a learning community in your school or district? Read KickUp’s tips for setting PLCs up for success.

This blog entry is part of a four-part series on actionable feedback. Stay tuned for our next post that will focus on concrete ways to provide feedback to Early Childhood Education teachers.

If this blog has sparked your interest and you want to learn more, check out our book, Actionable Feedback to PK-12 Teachers. And for other suggestions on supervising teachers in literacy, see Chapter 9 by Janice A. Dole, Parker C. Fawson, and D. Ray Reutzel.  

Missed the beginning of the series? Click here to read the first and second blog posts. 

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