Did you learn how to teach reading while at university or college? So many, it seems, did not. I did not learn how to teach reading either; until I was trained as a Reading Recovery teacher.
I had experiences of teaching reading, but what I did was fragmented, lacked a systematic approach, was empty of strategies, while full of busy activities. I had no confident way of observing and recording student ability, no training or insight into the importance of reflecting on what students could do and build lessons to meet their needs while simultaneously pushing their knowledge and teaching them to read and write.
In Reading Recovery, a literacy intervention for students who have completed one full year of school, I learned how to teach reading and writing. The author, creator, and brilliance behind Reading Recovery is Marie M. Clay.
Reading Recovery (RR) is a year-long training, of weekly meetings with a leader who educates teachers on the practices, strategies, and implementation of RR. Through the year you attend conferences, professional development, you teach the program, you are observed in your lessons, you observe others in lessons, you are engaged in a collaborative think-tank of colleagues who are all in the grind together; taking on new knowledge and bettering their literacy practice. It is awe-inspiring work. You come out of the training with a deep understanding of how it works, how students learn to read and write, and how to successfully create lessons, implement strategies, and support emerging readers and writers.
You also have an arsenal of tools in the figurative, tool box, to teach all readers and writers who come within your charge, because you’ve learned that meaning, structure and visual information are the foundations for learning to read and write, no matter the grade level. You, a Reading Recovery teacher, are now an asset to all students, colleagues, administrators, districts, states, communities, and the globe.
When you begin your second year, you feel like a baby learning to walk, yet you are not alone in this endeavor because you have an established tribe of colleagues, now comrades in the trenches doing the meaningful, intense, exhausting work of early literacy education; while balancing, time, precisely focused lessons for one child per lesson, coordinating with classroom teachers, educating staff, administration, and district, of the value and critical importance of such an intervention that serves one student for one half an hour, then three others in the same suit… “What?”, cries out the budget?
Budgets seem to miss the point on what this does, not only for students but the collective macro view. When you teach a child to read, who has a classroom teacher who has very little knowledge of how to teach reading and writing to a student who needs specific skills, strategies, attention, laser designed lessons, and a systematic instructional map – you are affecting the global population for the better. A child who is failed by lack of what schools are willing to offer, and include in their budgets, has a significant impact on the global economy; on a more personal and human level, that child is left feeling unworthy, unhappy, disengaged, and eventually enormously frustrated, overwhelmed, angry, and checked-out.
Imagine living your every day knowing you struggle or can’t read or write, and that every day you carry that inability with you; your friends know it, your supervisors know it, everyone knows it.
A Reading Recovery teacher is a must for every school.
Reading Recovery is the pebble in the pond for one student and millions of students.
If you want to know more, contact me heidi@EducatorOnFire.com.
Where is your fire?