Written by Gen
It’s tough out there right now in the world of literacy. Teaching practices are under scrutiny, research has been stretched and skewed to fit the needs of publishers and politicians, and teacher autonomy is at an all time low. Interventionists must be proactive in their relationships within their schools and districts in order to ensure that the students who need us most will be exposed to real best practices.
Pay careful attention to what is happening in the global literacy conversation. There is a lot of misinformation that is spreading quickly out there. If you’re like me, it’s hard to even listen to those distorted, and sometimes downright mean, statements regarding research and you might want to just avoid them all together. For those of us who deeply understand the reading and writing processes, keeping up on what others are saying isn’t necessary for our own practices, but our administrators and colleagues are seeing and hearing this conversation, as well. In order to have a dialogue around these issues, we must be aware of all sides of the issue.
Anticipate the questions, concerns, and misconceptions that the different stakeholders in your district may have. With all of the pressures and responsibilities administrators are under, they may not seek you out with their concerns. Additionally, there are some very convincing companies out there whose voices are strong. It is a relief to have products that “cure” students’ reading difficulties so don’t wait for others to come to you with questions- start anticipating the sticky areas and prepare the appropriate information.
Are you a Reading Recovery teacher in need of independent research on the program? Click here!
Are you a literacy interventionist that needs some literature to help understand the research? Check out these books written by researchers:
Make a plan to address the questions, concerns, and misconceptions about literacy, but make it friendly! The goal is to be proactive and helpful, not to prove anyone wrong. This could take many forms including, but not limited to:
- Simply include talk about theory when meeting with classroom teachers about a student in Reading Recovery. Conversations about students can easily turn to what students know, what they don’t know, and, “what are we going to do to fix it?” Spend some time sharing the theory behind Reading Recovery procedures and why we include what we do in our lessons. Understanding ‘why’ is much more powerful than knowing ‘how.’
- Pass on new learning. If you read an article about Reading Recovery or literacy instruction that was helpful to you, share it! Pull out the highlights and get together with classroom teachers. Most articles from The Journal of Reading Recovery include the research they are derived from, which is also helpful to point out to others. Make sure your resources are current and accurate: join the Reading Recovery Council of North America to have access to The Journal of Reading Recovery and many, many other resources.
- Present information about your program to your Board of Education. Don’t take for granted that just because you have the program in your school that everyone understands its benefits. They won’t know unless you show them!
- Schedule regular meetings with your administrators to show trends and answer questions. No need to over do it, though, 2-3 times per year will be enough. This will help you to identify questions and concerns before they become a problem.
Don’t wait for others to come to you with questions or misconceptions. There may be assumptions that you are not aware of, for instance that Reading Recovery works with only one type of classroom instruction, or that it doesn’t systematically teach phonics. These types of assumptions may prevent others from seeking you out for clarification. You will need to ask the leaders in your district how you can help support their initiatives. Go to the table with information and a collaborative mindset for optimal relationships in your district.
The key to maintaining strong relationships with teachers and administrators is to be knowledgeable about your field, understand all of the different perspectives around literacy, and be the one to start the conversation. Stay tuned for an upcoming article about staying updated on current research in literacy!