The Orchard Foundation Partners with The Center.
Liza Kostreva, Director of Professional Learning
The Center for Literacy & Learning has partnered with The Orchard Foundation and The Rapides Foundation to provide a series of 5-professional development sessions for district leaders and superintendents from 9 parishes across the state of Louisiana: Allen, Avoyelles, Catahoula, Lasalle, Natchitoches, Rapides, Vernon, and Winn. The goal of these workshops is to support leaders in defining and developing a culture of literacy, understanding and implementing structured literacy practices in their districts, and refining literacy plans and goals to improve student growth and achievement throughout the state.
Our second session, led by the Director of Professional Learning, Liza Kostreva, The Center’s Senior Training & Content Development team, Courtney Babin, Janee’ Butler, and Lindsey Vicknair, took place in November at Marksville Elementary School in Avoyelles Parish. The leadership, teachers, and staff were incredibly welcoming and created a beautiful environment for our work session.
Session two had three primary focus areas:
- Defining and identifying explicit instruction
- Developing and implementing high-quality literacy coaching models
- Creating system-wide practices for effective family and community engagement
During our whole group session on structured literacy, we zoomed in on ‘explicit instruction’ to support leaders with pinpointing teacher and student actions that reflect effective instructional practices. We utilized The Center’s Structured Literacy Walkthrough tool to identify elements of explicit instruction during classroom observations and video studies of Anita Archer lessons. This allowed district leaders and superintendents to align on what effective explicit instruction looks like and sounds like within a classroom setting. Participants can take this knowledge back to their districts and support school leaders, coaches, and teachers in improving explicit instructional practices.
The breakout sessions in the afternoon provided a space for superintendents and district leaders to collaborate across parishes on the topics of literacy coaching and family/community engagement. District leaders studied a literacy coach ‘model of excellence’ and analyzed their districts’ current literacy coach model. Through these discussions and reflections, district leaders developed specific action plans, which included steps to support literacy coaches in building their content knowledge and best practices for adult coaching.
We closed out our discussions and collaborative sessions, discussing the importance of family engagement and how we can effectively partner with families and community members to improve student outcomes. A powerful battery of research has shown that students with involved families have better attendance, improved social skills and behavior, and higher test scores (Henderson & Mapp, 2002). Participants were able to share structures and practices that have successfully engaged families in the past and brainstorm ways to break down barriers to family engagement to ensure families have equitable access to being involved in school communities.
The session was filled with incredibly productive reflections, discussions, and shared knowledge. It is truly an honor to partner with such a passionate and dedicated group of leaders and educators in our state. We look forward to conducting our future sessions, focusing on Kindergarten readiness, 3rd-grade mastery of LEAP ELA, and creating a culture of literacy in schools.