I am astonished at what is going on and passing for literacy instruction in classes.   It is likely related to my years of experience.  So, I decided to take a look back… and I realized I was once that teacher.  I was once the new teacher of literacy with very little idea of how to instruct readers in the early/primary grades.

The evidence, which I hear, echoing in classrooms during literacy lessons, “Sound it out,” each time a student is stuck while reading, is similar to these most disliked sounds – nails on a chalkboard or a knife scraping a plate – that screech which is an enormous sign to STOP what you’re doing.

I remember my first hire as THE reading specialist, the only one!  I was on cloud nine.  I was walked to my room (a custodial closet, next to the girl’s bathroom, that was a catch-all for every outdated book that existed in that school and some highly toxic drain openers) I was unwavering in my excitement.  “I can make this work,” I thought, (as most teachers, every year, no matter her circumstances, especially in the primary grades).

My principal came to me one day, while I was dripping sweat from cleaning, to announce she had registered me for Reading Recovery. I would be committed to a year-long training.  I would begin that training during the summer, which meant I would lose one entire week of summer to Reading Recovery’s introduction and initial training days.

After my room set-up was complete, the most important part loomed, instruction.  In hindsight, I was clueless.  I was “running off”, which is code for copying, phonics lessons from books, I was copying passages with comprehension questions at the end, I was giving students word searches, alphabet papers, then notebooks. In the notebooks, I had kids writing out the alphabet, writing based on prompts like, “What I did over the weekend,” or, “How to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.” I told myself, I was doing my work well, because I had small groups and I could focus in on individual students.

The fact of the matter was, I had no foundation for understanding how children learn to read or the system which reading is based.

That year-long Reading Recovery training was the key, the door, the everything to “how to” teach literacy.

As a trained Reading Recovery (RR) teacher – twice over because I had a gap of two years where I was not actively instructing students, designing lessons, or attending continued professional development, as a RR teacher.  I consider myself well seasoned in the land of literacy for early/primary education/readers.

Are you graduating soon and stepping into your first teaching job in the early/primary grades?

Are you taking the plunge into homeschooling with your young ones?

I want to help you.  I have answers.  Click here for my freebie, “Three Powers to Help you be a Super-Hero-Reading-Teacher.”


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