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Abstract

Teachers of writing know the importance of giving students feedback throughout the writing process. Teachers of writing also know the value of having students write for authentic audiences. However, classroom teachers often face challenges in these two areas. Writing Coaches of Montana (WCM) is a non-profit, independent, community-based organization that addresses these challenges. WCM’s mission is to help Montana students write competently, think critically and express themselves confidently. WCM supports teachers by recruiting, training and supervising community volunteers who work individually with students in middle and high school classrooms on writing assignments that require critical thinking and revision. The success of WCM’s approach reflects 22 years of best practices and innovation as well as ongoing collaboration with the University of Montana (UM) Writing Center, the UM English Teaching Program, the UM School of Education, the Missoula County Public School District, and other public schools in western Montana. We present the benefits of this approach and discuss: 1) how writing coaches support teachers and students on curriculum-based writing assignments; 2) how community volunteers are trained and supervised as writing coaches; and 3) what teachers, students, and coaches say about the value of writing coaches.

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