Teaching Careers and Professional Development

Literacy and Reading Coach: Job, Requirements, and Outlook

By The Editorial Team

Literacy and reading coaches, sometimes referred to as literary coordinators or instructional coordinators, are a vital part of the education system in the United States and across the world. They work with educators and students to enhance classroom learning by helping to develop curriculum-based lesson plans, conducting lesson demonstrations and evaluations, and analyzing student literacy and achievement data.

While cuts to the federal education budget were substantial in 2019, the position of literacy and reading coach remains an important one in schools across the country. Many schools continue to employ literacy and reading coaches on a full-time, year-round basis to take part in lesson planning, educator training, and professional advancement school staff.

At a glance: literacy and reading coach

In recent years, the role of literacy and reading coach has seen a major shift. While the primary responsibility of literacy and reading coaches was once teaching literacy skills to students and teachers, the role is now far more elaborate. This job now entails an element of staff training and is more deeply rooted in curriculum and lesson planning. Literacy and reading coaches are also responsible for conducting classroom audits, as well as analyzing student achievement and literacy data to determine if and how changes should be made to lesson plans.

Literacy and reading coach: job description

Literacy and reading coaches, who are generally employed year-round, work with students, teachers, and school administrators, fulfilling several roles. Literacy and reading coaches perform the following duties:

  • Work with educators to identify issues with students or curriculum, set goals, and solve problems
  • Collaborate with educators and school administrators to develop curriculum and lesson plans
  • Create teaching material for educators
  • Lead and/or participate in study groups alongside educators
  • Attend professional development conferences and workshops
  • Help teachers conduct student assessments and analyze student work
  • Counsel students to help them discover their strengths and to set goals
  • Interpret data after student or teacher assessments have been conducted
  • Design and lead professional development presentations for educators
  • Model lessons to help educators learn
  • Audit classes

Literacy and reading coaches need to be flexible when it comes to the environments in which they work. While they may spend a great deal of their time in an office, they are often required to travel, attend off-site meetings, conferences, or workshops, or spend their day in a classroom alongside students and teachers.

Who makes a good literacy and reading coach?

Employers look for several qualities in a literacy and reading coach. The best literacy and reading coaches are:

  • Comfortable speaking in front of large groups and classrooms of students
  • Excellent teachers with teaching experience at the particular level they’re coaching
  • Knowledgeable about reading processes, assessment, and instruction
  • Effective communicators who aren’t afraid to provide honest feedback
  • Experienced in coaching educators and aiding in professional development
  • Masters of their craft and comfortable modeling lessons and teaching techniques in front of other educators

Literacy and reading coaches in-depth

Education requirements for literacy and reading coaches

Literacy and reading coaches typically require a master’s degree. Additionally, most schools hiring literacy and reading coaches require you have several years of teaching experience before they’ll consider you for this position. It’s best if your teaching experience is at the same grade level as the job for which you’re applying. For example, if you’re applying for a position at a middle school, your teaching experience should be at a middle school level.

Certifications for a literacy and reading coach

In addition to a master’s degree, some schools require literacy and reading coaches to possess coaching certifications. These requirements may vary from state to state, so it’s best to check with your state board of education or your prospective employer to determine what certifications you may need.

Average salaries for literacy and reading coaches

The average pay for literacy and reading coaches or instructional coordinators can vary depending on the grade level you’re working at, the state you’re in, and your experience.

According to PayScale.com, salaries for this position range from $42,000 to $74,000 annually, with bonuses ranging from $1,000 to $6,000 annually. It’s worth noting that salaries and bonuses may fall above or below these ranges.

PayScale.com lists the average salary for this position at $60,112, while ZipRecruiter.com cites an average salary of $55,202.

Potential career growth for literacy and reading coaches

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which gathers and publishes statistics for most occupations throughout the United States, literacy and reading coaches, referred to by the BLS as instructional coordinators, are experiencing average job growth. By the year 2028, this field should see an estimated 6% growth.

This growth is dependent on federal and state education budgets. Further cuts may lead to the extinction of this position at some schools, while at others, this role may continue to evolve as other jobs are cut due to lack of funding.

That being said, school districts are increasingly focused on student interest and achievement, which may prove lucrative for those in the business of literacy coaching. Many schools value the role these coaches play and understand the importance of having a professional on hand who can effectively tweak curriculum and help teachers improve their lesson plans to keep students interested.

Challenges and opportunities for literacy and reading coaches

Advantages:

  • You have the opportunity to impact students and education positively. 
  • You get to work primarily alongside other adults while having the opportunity to improve students’ literacy skills, which is a plus for those who don’t want to be in the classroom full-time.
  • You get to work with many different teachers and help them to reach their full potential as educators.

Disadvantages:

  • A literacy and reaching coach doesn’t get to spend much time with students. Most of their time is spent working with teachers and school administrators, helping them perfect the way they interact with students.
  • Work can seem redundant at times. While you’ll work alongside different teachers and prepare curriculum and lesson plans for a variety of subjects, you might find that your methods and the routine are often the same.
  • You often must critique the work of others, which can be difficult if you’re uncomfortable providing honest feedback to your peers.

Professional development opportunities for literacy and reading coaches

Literacy and reading coaches have plenty of opportunities to develop and expand their skill set both on and off the job through professional development opportunities. Professional development conferences, which are regular occurrences in most school districts across the United States, offer educators, administrators, and literacy and reading coaches the chance to learn from their peers through workshops and seminars. 

When they’re not presenting at these conferences, literacy and reading coaches can participate in them to practice their skills, learn about new developments in education and education-related technology, and network with peers.

Continuing education for literacy and reading coaches

Literacy and reading coaches train and assist teachers in developing their professional skills. That’s why they must continually engage in learning. Continuing education opportunities for learning and reading coaches are vast and include courses in reading intervention, literacy assessment, school leadership, and teacher training.

Professional associations for literacy and reading coaches

Several professional organizations support literacy and reading coaches throughout the United States. These include:

Best of the web — literacy and reading coach resources

You can use the internet to help you stay connected with what’s happening in the world of literacy and reading coaches. Through blogs and social media, you can effectively learn new techniques for developing a curriculum that keeps students engaged, creating presentations that help educators achieve their best, and analyzing the efficacy of lesson plans in boosting student achievement. The internet is also a great way to network with other professionals in your field.

Literacy and reading coach blogs

Literacy and reading coach Twitter accounts

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