Why I Love Being a Literacy Specialist

I am occasionally asked by others, outside of the field of education, if I enjoy being a literacy specialist. My response is immediate,  “I love it!”  When I try to share why I love being a literacy specialist I find it difficult to convey how special it feels to support a child in taking on the identity of a reader and a writer.  I also struggle with finding the right words to describe the close bond you develop with each of the students you work with.  So, I thought I would write a blog post working through why I love being a literacy teacher so much.

Before I get into explaining the “why” I do want to provide a disclaimer.  I believe that my Reading Recovery training has much to do with my love for my job.  Reading Recovery training gave me the tools I needed to be able to help students when classroom instruction hasn’t been enough.  I am not sure that I would have the same zeal if I hadn’t had the opportunity to have Reading Recovery training.

I often feel as if the classroom teacher is the parent who shows his/her students that they care for, respect and appreciate them in the ways that they are able to with 20+ students.  I, on the other hand, am the doting grandmother or the aunt who wants to spoil their niece/nephew.  When I refer to “doting” on them or “spoiling” them I don’t mean that I let them do anything they want to do and give them unlimited material things (okay, I admit that I do give them books as much as I am able to).  I dote on them and spoil them by letting them know how much I value them by choosing books that I know they’ll love, by encouraging conversation, by allowing them to write about the things they care about, and by providing that next step they need to come one step closer to being an independent problem solver.  I show them every day how happy I am to see them with a genuine smile and greeting.

When you’re in the unique position where you are meeting with students in groups of 3 or less you are able to have up close and personal conversations.  With your undivided attention, students will share their life with you.  You’ll find out who doesn’t have electricity or food for dinner, who’s worried about a parent that was arrested the night before, who needs a little extra attention because they had a rough weekend.  Some people might be surprised how much a student can share in the 1-2 minutes it takes to walk to my room or the couple of minutes it takes to pack up his/her reading bag.

I am able to give the students I work with direct and specific praise about their reading behaviors.  I can provide them with many opportunities to feel like a successful reader and to understand their jobs as a learner.  I am freed up to tailor tasks to fit the student so that the tasks are easy enough that the child feels actively engaged in their learning.  One of my favorite luxuries is being able to brag to my students’ parents and teachers about the amazing reading and writing behaviors I notice as they change over time.

I used to shy away from being too direct with my students about they are coming to see me.  My students are generally between the ages of 5-7.  I did not want them to feel like a “bad reader”.  Recently, I came to the conclusion that many of my students already feel like they aren’t good at reading or that they can’t read.  Now, I let them know that we see their struggles and through teamwork, we are all going to work together to not only teach them how to read but to LOVE reading.

I’m not trying to romanticize being a literacy teacher.  It does have its hard parts.  AKA:  lack of time, interrupted schedules, making schedules…period, too many students, mandates, etc…  But, when somebody asks me why I love my job, instead of thinking of the hard parts, I find myself smiling and picturing the little ones I have the pleasure of working with every day.

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If you’re interested in reading more about the “hard parts” click the link below.

The Struggles of a Reading Teacher

 

 

 

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