Reading Recovery Works: Spread the Word

We seem to be going through a time where heavy phonics instruction and skill and drill teaching practices are taking over.  The importance of making all interactions with books meaningful and enjoyable and using research-proven interventions are going by the wayside.

We need to make the power of Reading Recovery and its complex theory of reading more visible than ever.  We need to share loud and proud about our completely individualized lessons that meet the needs of each child we work with.

We need to know our reading theory well and be ready to answer questions about Reading Recovery in a clear and concise way.  We have to be sure that we can explain the reasoning behind anything that we do during a Reading Recovery lesson.

Gen and I have personally experienced the downsizing of Reading Recovery teachers in our own school district as well as the school districts around us.

With the threat of not being a Reading Recovery teacher, I often hear from others, “Don’t worry, you’ll never lose it.”  While I think that I will always be a Reading Recovery teacher at heart I feel that there are definitely some things that I will lose if I am no longer a practicing Reading Recovery teacher.

I would no longer attend continuing contact sessions, which I consider to be the best on-going professional development that I have ever been fortunate enough to experience.  I would no longer be able to participate in Behind the Glass sessions which have always helped me to think deeper about the students I work with.  The thought of missing out on these experiences has made me reflect on the importance of doing my part in sharing the power of Reading Recovery as well as sharing my knowledge about how children learn to read.

Share with parents

Call parents when you first know that you will be working with their child.  Explain to them what Reading Recovery is, ask if they have any questions, and invite them in for a lesson.  Update parents frequently on their child’s progress.  Here are a few ways that I stay in touch with parents:

  • write a quick note on sticky notes attached to a book that the child is taking home.

                “Johnny sounds so smooth when reading this story.”

  • write a note on the reading log.                                

                      “Sara is working on pointing to each word as she reads.”

  • write a note thanking parents for their support with reading each night at home.
  • send home a copy of their writing with a quick note about what the child can do all on their own.                      

 ” Johnny wrote the, to, go quickly all by himself!” 

  • Call at the end of the program to share their child’s progress and answer any questions that the parents may have.

Share with Administration & Board of Education

Invite administrators into your classroom to see lessons in action.  Also, invite administrators to behind the glass sessions to see the way we observe, analyze and talk about next steps.  Having administrators observe lessons and attend behind the glass sessions also helps to broaden their knowledge about how children learn to read.  Share the progress your students are making with your building principal on a regular basis.

Meet with classroom teachers frequently

Work closely with your students’ classroom teachers.  Listen carefully to what they are noticing about their student’s strategic activities in reading and writing.   Discuss the child’s progress but make sure to provide the classroom teacher time to communicate any support that they may need. Think about how you can help support the transfer of knowledge between what happens in your room and the child’s classroom.  Invite classroom teachers in for lessons and behind the glass sessions to observe how you interact with the student and the language you use to teach and prompt.

Participate in professional learning communities & Problem-solving teams

Regularly take part in school meetings and collaborate with your colleagues.  Share relevant research and the theory behind reading as a complex process.  Advocate for time spent together learning and not just talking data.

Professional development

Be a literacy leader by helping to provide job-embedded professional learning.  Pick literacy topics that are relevant to your classroom teachers’ everyday work life and stick with those topics for a period of time.

In the recently released Spring 2018 edition of the Journal of Reading Recovery Jady Johnson provides some guidance with explaining Reading Recovery to an “influential school decision maker in just one minute” in her article titled, It Only Takes a Minute.

There are many resources available to members on the RRCNA website that can be used when communicating with families and administrators about Reading Recovery.  I would also recommend reading Billy J. Askew’s article:  What’s So Important About Theory?  We have to stay on top of our game to keep Reading Recovery alive.

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This blog post was also posted on the Reading Recovery Council of North America’s blog on June 15, 2018.

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