When Literacy Coaches observe teachers, most of the time they use set rubrics to determine what the teacher needs to work on and what they are doing well. “Our analysis of the coaches’ discussion about their ratings on the rubrics led us to identify three lenses- or ways of looking- that influences their observations: the pedagogy lens, the responsiveness lens, and the relevancy lens,” Rodgers & Rodgers, (2007). What do these lenses mean and how do they affect our teaching and our ability to coach?
Each time the Literacy Coach watches a lesson and observes how a teacher teaches; they think about how they would have taught that lesson. “Adrian conceptualized a mechanism called a pedagogical lens to help understand how the same teaching might be viewed and interpreted differently by different people (A. Rogers, 2002),” Rodgers & Rodgers, (2007). In other words, an English teacher may observe a teacher teaching a lesson on Shakespeare. The observer might have already taught a lesson like this and comes to the observation with their own ideas on how this subject should be taught.
The observer is analyzing the lesson by seeing how they would have taught it.
Another lens observers use is called the Responsiveness Lens. “When the coaches in our study discussed rationales for their ratings, they often referred to what we call the responsiveness of teaching as a factor in their analysis,” Rodgers & Rodgers, (2007). This means how well the teacher is responding to students. If the subject is too difficult, can the teacher adjust her lesson while teaching to help those students?
One coach summed up the responsiveness lens nicely, ‘What you’re really looking for is, is she meeting the needs of those kids?” Sometimes the teacher must adjust the lesson to help students. What are the students getting from this lesson? Is the teacher matching what she is reaching to how her students are responding?
When I started teaching Social Studies, I didn’t realize that some of the terms in the book that were known to most students, were not known to my particular group of students. I had to stop the lesson and go over some vocabulary that I thought was common knowledge.
Finally, the last lens is called the relevancy lens. Are the students learning from what is being taught? “Their reflections on their retains also dealt with whether they thought students could profit form the teaching; this could only happen if what the teacher was teaching matched what students could use to learn,” Rodgers & Rodgers, (2007). The observer questions when teachers are teaching something that is “not meaningful or useful for students, and notes missed opportunities for learning,” Rodgers & Rodgers, (2007).
Literacy specialist must collaborate with others in their schools. “To be successful, literacy specialist must be able to work collaboratively and cooperatively with teachers, administrators, families and community agencies,” Bean and Goatley (2021). For example, just as I assumed when I started teaching Social Studies that my students should have already known certain vocabulary, Literacy Specialists come equipped with experiences from previous jobs and life experiences. They must also understand the different lens that they observe with and understand how to use those lenses to help teachers and others to becomes the best they can be.
Bean, R. M., Goatley, V.J. (2021). The Literacy Specialist. Leadership and coaching for the classroom, school, and community. 4th ed (374 pgs) Guildford Press.
Rodgers, A., & Rodgers, E. M. (2007). The Effective Literacy Coach: Using Inquiry to Support Teaching and Learning. Teachers College, Columbia University.