Currently, we coach middle and high school students, grades 6-12. Writing coaches meet one-on-one with every student for 20-30 minutes during the regular class period. We require at least two separate meetings with students, usually a few days to a week apart. Students should come to the first meeting with a rough or first draft or, at minimum, an outline or some pre-writing. Before their second meeting, students are expected to make revisions based on their discussions with their coaches. Coaches meet with the same students for both meetings.
We usually work with students in an adjacent classroom, or in the school library or cafeteria. Each coach meets individually with 2-4 students during the period, depending on the period length. Students who aren't meeting with their coach remain in the classroom.
Writing assignments must be part of the regular class curriculum and evaluated by the teacher for a grade. We require that the assignment and other relevant information (rubrics, planning guides, etc.) be emailed to the Director for distribution to coaches in advance.
In a typical conference, the coach and student spend the first few minutes getting to know each other. The coach will ask the student to verbally summarize the thesis and main points, and then to read his/her paper out loud. The coach begins with some positive feedback, and, through a series of questions, explores ideas with the student on how to make improvements. During the first draft meeting, the discussion often centers on content (thesis, organization and evidence). Concerns about style (word choice, voice, fluency) and conventions (grammar, punctuation, and spelling) are usually reserved for the second draft meeting. Students are expected to make their own notes on their papers (coaches do not edit their papers). At the first conference, coaches will fill out and give them a "Work Agreement Worksheet" that summarizes what was discussed and what changes should be made before the next meeting.
Writing Coaches of Montana believes that writing is an essential component of the learning process in most disciplines. While we have coached primarily in English and Language Arts classes, our writing coaches can also help students in History/Social Studies, Biology, Geography, Mathematics, and Business learn to express themselves competently, in keeping with the Common Core standards for writing proficiency across the content areas.