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Griffith Helping Teachers Become Literacy Leaders

From TCU This Week

Dr. Robin Griffith

Chances are you’ve heard the term “train the trainer”—a type of education model that allows the participants to learn a subject and simultaneously learn how to teach it to others.

Dr. Robin Griffith has taken the same approach to literacy and is working with teachers in Eagle Mountain-Saginaw Independent School District to further their professional development.

In 2015, Griffith created a Guided Reading and Instructional Practice program in which she observed a small group of literacy specialists in their work environment at EMS ISD and provided instructional coaching to help them teach their students to improve their reading, language and writing skills. The following year, she worked with another 30 classroom teachers as the district realized the need for this type of professional development, and provided on-site support for six of its 13 schools. Rather than continuing to facilitate the program independently, Griffith created a program to educate elementary teachers on how to coach each other to become literacy leaders. She calls the program Building Capacity with Job-Embedded Professional Development: Teacher as Decision-Maker and Leader.

“I quickly realized that the potential for this program was greater than what I could individually provide,” said Griffith. “To successfully raise the level of literacy achievement for all students, a program to create a team of leaders was needed.”

Similar to both the Reading Recovery training model and the Literacy Collaborative school reform project in use at Ohio State University and Lesley University, Griffith’s program initiates and expands the conversation about best practices for reading and writing across the curriculum, establishes long-term site-based training development for faculty, as well as monitoring improvement through data collection and analysis standards.

“There are two aspects of a teacher’s role in helping students become readers: the development of understandings about literacy and programs that can support teachers, and thoughtful adaptations in daily literacy instruction,” said Griffith. “Students learn at different speeds and in different ways; it is our responsibility to meet each child as his current developmental level. We build on strengths while addressing instructional needs.”

“By giving teachers the theoretical and research background needed to make instructional decisions for each student, we are arming them with the tools they need to foster literacy effectively.”

Administrators at EMSISD  have been willing to invest in the development of their teachers and Griffith is providing the instructional coaching they need. Griffith, who works for the district on a contract basis, is currently conducting an extensive research project to study her program’s outcomes among both teachers and students.

Griffith, associate professor in the College of Education since 2011, is a Literacy Collaborative Trainer and Reading Recovery Advocate. She currently serves as the co-editor of the International Literacy Association’s journal, The Reaching Teacher. Before joining TCU’s faculty, Griffith taught in public schools in Texas and trained literacy coaches in numerous states.