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 I was walked to my room (a custodial closet, next to the girl’s bathroom, that was a catch-all for every outdated book that existed in that school and some highly toxic drain openers) I was unwavering in my excitement.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.”