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Teacher Feature: Lindsey Donaldson
Teacher Feature: Lindsey Donaldson is the K-6 Literacy Coach for R. Roger Rowe Elementary. Lindsey, thanks for joining us today. We’d like to start by finding out just what you do as a literacy coach – what does a typical day look like to you?
Lindsey Donaldson: Most of my mornings are spent working 1:1 with teachers and their students in their classrooms. I visit any number of different grade levels during the week. I may go from working with 6th grade, to Kinder and then to 2nd in the course of a morning. Much of where I am depends on the cycles of study I am currently undergoing with groups of teachers. In the afternoon I meet with grade level teams during their collaborative planning time to work on studying the Common Core State Standards, planning units, looking at student work, etc.
TF: What is your background?
LD: I completed my Bachelors Degree in English at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and received my Multiple Subject teaching credential from Sacramento State University. I also hold an MA in Language and Literacy and possess a Reading Specialist Credential from San Diego State University. My Literacy Coaching professional development has all been completed through the Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Project out of Columbia University in New York City. My initial intent in completing the degree was to work with struggling readers as a reading specialist. I did not always know that this is what I wanted to do…but I am glad that my colleagues here saw my potential and encouraged me to give it a try!
TF: What other jobs did you do before you came into your current position?
LD: I began my teaching career working for Sacramento City Unified School District as a 3rd grade and 1st grade teacher. Upon moving to San Diego, I was hired at R. Roger Rowe and taught 2nd grade for 2 years before leaving the classroom to start the Reading Intervention program. I worked as the school-site reading specialist for one year before taking on the job as K-4 Literacy Coach. I also had a brief stint last year as the English Language Development Coordinator. This is my 6th year working as a coach and I have had the opportunity to expand my role into 5th and 6th grade.
TF: What is your teaching philosophy? Can you also talk about a few people who have most influenced your career path?
LD: I believe that teaching is a science as well as an art. As professionals, it is our job to keep up to date on the latest research around teaching methodologies and strategies in order to deliver top-notch instruction to our students. With that knowledge in place, it is then our responsibility to engage students in learning by using our own unique talents and personality to weave a web of learning that is meaningful and tailored to their specific learning styles and needs. It is our charge to cultivate a space where students feel they are a valuable and integral part of the learning community. My mom has been one of my greatest inspirations on my career path. She recently retired from 20 plus years working as a parochial school principal. She has consistently modeled for me the importance of being a lifelong learner as well as an agent of change in the field of education. I am also constantly in awe of the amazing teachers that I am blessed to work with on a daily basis!!
TF: What do you think is the most important aspect missing in education today?
LD: In general, I feel that the culture of standardized testing has caused a shift in the field that moves us away from producing students who are well-rounded individuals. This is a great concern for me. We are so lucky here at R. Roger Rowe that we have been able to keep special programs such as Science Lab, Art, Music and Drama. My experience working in low-income neighborhood school for 5 years makes me keenly aware of the grave disparities in our public school system.
TF: What are the steps you take to insure literacy? In other words, how do you assist students who have fallen behind and need to catch up and how do you help students experience success?
LD: I am very diagnostic in my approach with students who are struggling with Literacy. I work to determine what the greatest area of need is and begin there. I move along a progression of skills, meeting students where they are, and taking them to the next level with support and encouragement. I also find that allowing children to be a part of the process by setting goals and working with areas of interest is helpful as well. Most importantly, I strive to develop a relationship with them on a personal level and impress upon them that they are important to me as people…not just readers.
TF: What are the best and worst parts of your job?
LD: The best part of my job is that I get to study and teach what I am passionate about. From the time I was a little girl I have loved books and reading. So it is so fun for me to be able to share that passion with kiddos and teachers alike!
The worst part of my job is that it seems like there is never enough time to get as much work completed as I would like. I have stacks of professional texts waiting to be read and lists of ideas that I would like to incorporate into our literacy work here at Roger Rowe.
TF: How do you integrate technology into your lessons?
LD: My favorite tool right now is the Smart Board. It is great to use for shared reading, especially in informational text. I can put a text up on the Smart Board so that the whole class can read and study it together. We can annotate, highlight, zoom in, etc. right over the authors work!
TF: Tell us a little about your plans for continuing your professional growth.
LD: Those plans change often! My current goal is to spend time this summer studying the Common Core State Standards through the reading of professional texts. I have begun working on creating some performance assessments that we will use to get an even better picture of our students as readers as well as prepare them for the new generation of assessments they will be taking.
TF: Thanks so much for sharing with us today – we are lucky to have such a versatile person working at our school!
LD: Thank you!
For past features, check out the Teacher Feature Archive.
Teacher Feature is written by Ross Hansen, Librarian at Rancho Santa Fe School District. Copyright 2013, Rancho Santa Fe School District.