Episode 8: Translating Literacy Research and Empowering Teachers with Dr. Margie Gillis

Episode Summary 
Drawing on decades of research on reading and professional development, Margie Gillis, EdD, presents the necessary elements to provide teachers with the training and tools to implement high quality reading instruction in their classrooms. As the founder and president of Literacy How, Dr. Gillis and her team coach teachers across districts and schools in Connecticut using a prescriptive and research-based model, cognitive coaching. Research supports the individualized nature of teacher coaching within a professional development framework that integrates expertise from coaches, high trust and relationality between the coach and teacher, feedback, and teacher agency. Dr. Gillis addresses potential factors that may influence the variability in coaching effectiveness across school contexts and provides implications for sustainability and scalability of professional development programs.

Top READ Bookmarks
Each episode, host Danielle Scorrano identifies key takeaways or “READ bookmarks.” 

1. Effective professional development for reading teachers incorporates:

  • High teacher engagement and active learning
  • Coherence
  • Multiple offerings that are sustained duration
  • Complete organizational involvement.
  • Expert coaching

"[High quality professional development] cannot be a 'one and done' workshop, but it has to be sustained in duration and embedded in the school culture."

2. Translating research to practice through coaching is a process that fosters high trust and teacher agency while building teacher knowledge, instructional competencies, and practices. Through a cognitive coaching process, reading experts work with teachers to focus on content, student acquisition of skills, lesson planning and delivery, student data, and reflection within classroom environments.

"There’s nothing more powerful for a teacher than to see their students learning things that they never have been exposed to before."

3. To address scalability and sustainability of coaching models in schools as well as the implementation of multi-tiered, research-based instruction, Dr. Gillis discusses the importance of building capacity within schools by identifying and training internal experts and working with school/district leaders.

"You’re going to be putting a band-aid on a huge problem if you don’t address how reading is being taught in the first place."

4. In the current educational landscape and looking to the future, school leaders need to ensure teachers:

  • Succeed in their classrooms and via distance learning
  • Provide access and equity to all students through increased competencies and support for linguistic and cultural differences
  • Effectively utilize data to support their students

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READ Podcast is produced by The Windward School and The Windward Institute. READ is hosted by Danielle Scorrano.

About READ: READ, the Research Education ADvocacy Podcast connects you with prominent researchers, thought leaders, and educators who share their work, insights, and expertise about current research and best practices in fields of education and child development.
Note: All information and insights shared demonstrate the expertise and views of our guests.