Scaffolding in teaching refers to teachers molding, or demonstrating, how to complete a certain task. After completion of the demonstration, they let their students try to complete the task themselves and only give support as needed. The teacher gradually sheds layers of assistance as the students’ progress. This is the same way Literacy Coaches work with teachers. Scaffolding can be utilized in the classroom with students and by Literacy Coaches when observing and coaching teachers.
Scaffolding is important in differentiating the education of our students. Some students do not need as much support as others. We give support to those students who need them so they can be at the same level as the other students. In my case study, I am working with a student who experienced difficulty with reading aloud. This student is performing under grade level, where in the past she had been at grade level. She reports that the work has gotten harder. She also reports that she does not do like reading aloud and that she tries to be quick in her reading so it will be over. However, she forgets what she read when she perceives the reading passage is too difficult or long. This particular school system is set up in three trimesters. This student’s grades have decreased from the first trimester to now. She just received grades from the second trimester and is starting the third.
For this student, I have given more supports than some others. We give her extra allotted time during the day to read with a teacher or support staff. By doing this, we can help her slow down and think about what she is reading. Often, we pause her at a natural stopping point and ask her questions while she is reading. When she reads a longer and larger text, we have been working on teaching her how to take notes, and outline chapters as she reads so she can review them later. This will be help and aid in her education later, as in upper grade levels more reading is required.
We can see how this works in the classroom with students, but how can we use scaffolding to help teachers? “What became clear to me was the role of active construction on one’s learning and how critical this is on our leading school visit. Scaffolding the teacher through genuine conversation and questioning will provide to be most productive and generative,” (Rodgers & Rodgers, 2007).
Scaffolding is the support system given to those who need them. This can apply to student as well as teachers. A new teacher might need more support than a veteran teacher. This does not mean that a veteran teacher does not need support, they might been help learning a new technique, or adopting a new teaching philosophy. “We suggest ways in which literacy coaches can think about kind of help they provide teachers, the amount of support they provide, and when to offer help in order to scaffold teacher learning and reach depths of understanding,” (Rodgers & Rodgers, 2007).
There are things to consider when a literary coach is scaffolding a teacher. However, “The only requirement if a thoughtful coach who creates settings that require active participation and then observes the participation close in order to provide the think of help that is on the teacher’s cutting edge of learning,” (Rodgers & Rodgers, 2007). Coaching is not an opportunity when we just tell someone what they are doing wrong. This is the same way a teacher would give support to their students. We must be mindful of where and how we give support. We should also create a learning environment that is inviting and supportive.
Scaffolding is a useful tool that can be used in many situations when one person is facilitating the success of another. This can be helping a child learn a chore at home or helping a student work on reading. The key is to remember to create a supportive learning environment.
Rodgers, A., & Rodgers, E. M. (2007). The Effective Literacy Coach: Using Inquiry to Support Teaching and Learning. Teachers College, Columbia University.