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Expanding our partnership in New Mexico: REL Southwest invites educators to join Write to Succeed

Southwest | April 18, 2024

A person writing on a whiteboard

In late January 2024, a classroom at Rio Rancho Public Schools in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, buzzed with discussion. Instructional coaches, district administrators, and representatives from the New Mexico Public Education Department's (NMPED) Language and Culture Bureau had come together for a learning institute. Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Southwest experts from the Southwest English Learner Literacy (SWELL) partnership facilitated the institute, as participants pored over coaching and instructional materials that would support their implementation of Write to Succeed.

Write to Succeed is a professional learning program for grades 4–8 that blends evidence-based literacy practices, culturally and linguistically responsive instruction, and effective teacher peer collaboration strategies. The program is being developed and studied by REL Southwest's SWELL partnership, which was formed in 2022 in collaboration with NMPED and educators across the state to strengthen literacy and writing skills among English learner students. REL Southwest is helping teachers improve their literacy instruction by working with school-based teacher teams as they learn how to integrate Write to Succeed practices into existing instructional units.

What is it like working with Write to Succeed? One coach's journey

"I think the thing that really hooked me was that [Write to Succeed] offered so much support."

Renee Byrum, Instructional Coach, Eagle Ridge Middle School

Instructional coaches play a pivotal role in Write to Succeed by helping teachers understand the "what," the "how," and the "why" of scaffolded writing instruction. Coaches provide an overview of the evidence-based practices and then model them for teachers who then implement them in the classroom. This form of productive teacher collaboration is embedded in Write to Succeed because research shows that collaboration with peers can improve educators' knowledge and skills as well as student outcomes.1 By supporting teachers to work together to enhance their existing curriculum, Write to Succeed coaches help to make evidence-based writing practices accessible and feasible for teachers who want to place more of an emphasis on cultivating students' writing skills in addition to reading and oral language.

"The fall institute was a wonderful opportunity for coaches to experience Write to Succeed practices prior to implementing them with their teacher teams. Discussions were rich, and the feedback was extremely useful to ensure the materials would help prepare teachers to implement the evidence-based writing practices in their classrooms with their students."

Diana Torres, Recruitment Lead, REL Southwest

Renee Byrum, a seasoned instructional coach, shared her experience with Write to Succeed during the 2023/24 school year. Byrum had only just begun working at Eagle Ridge Middle School in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, when she was invited to join Write to Succeed to serve as a coach for the school's team of participating teachers. Her journey commenced in September 2023, with a two-day fall semester institute for a group of instructional coaches. REL Southwest experts provided an overview of the program and then modeled an extended writing lesson to walk educators through essential evidence-based practices related to scaffolded writing instruction and culturally and linguistically responsive instruction. Participants left the institute with a binder full of resources to help them implement what they learned with their teacher teams. Thinking back on her experience at the fall institute, Byrum recalled, "Oftentimes trainings are like, you just sit and you get, but this program goes through the process we're going to take students down, . . . and [we] see an actual picture of what is going to happen in the classroom."

Following the fall institute, Byrum returned to her school to lead her team of teachers through the professional learning activities. She provided coaching support for teachers as they implemented the practices with their students, observing their instruction and reflecting with them on how well the practices worked in their classrooms.

REL Southwest also continued supporting the coaches and gathering feedback about Write to Succeed. This feedback enabled REL Southwest to refine the Write to Succeed materials for the spring semester institute in January, which Byrum also attended. In particular, she noticed that REL Southwest "implemented a lot of changes and . . . now [the program's] very streamlined. We've been given a lot more of a break down, like when you're doing the initial implementation, it should take x amount of time." During the spring semester, Byrum is continuing to work with her team of six teachers as they apply a second set of evidence-based writing practices to another instructional unit.

How can you join Write to Succeed?

Right now, REL Southwest is looking to partner with more educators. During the 2024/25 school year, the SWELL partnership will continue to connect with schools and districts across New Mexico to implement and test Write to Succeed. Teachers in grades 4–8 who serve at least five English learner students are encouraged to participate, as are instructional coaches at their school or district. Those who participate will receive a stipend, subject to district approval, and gift cards in appreciation for completing data collection activities. If you are interested, reach out to Diana Torres,, to learn more about participating in the study.

Related resources

See what else REL Southwest is saying about the SWELL partnership:


1 Goddard, Y. L., Miller, R., Larsen, R., Goddard, R., Madsen, J., & Schroeder, P. (2010, May 3). Connecting principal leadership, teacher collaboration, and student achievement [Conference session]. American Educational Research Association annual meeting, Denver, CO; Papay, J. P., Taylor, E. S., Tyler, J. H., & Laski, M. E. (2020). Learning job skills from colleagues at work: Evidence from a field experiment using teacher performance data. American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, 12(1), 359-88; Ronfeldt, M., Farmer, S. O., McQueen, K., & Grissom, J. (2015). Teacher collaboration in instructional teams and student achievement. American Educational Research Journal, 52(3), 475–514.; Vangrieken, K., Dochy, F., Raes, E., & Kyndt, E. (2015). Teacher collaboration: A systematic review. Educational Research Review, 15, 17–40.


Carol Felicio

Carol Felicio

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