Reading is the most serious of subjects. I take it seriously because it is the foundation of all learning. The research reveals that a reader past the 2nd grade is less likely to catch up, which is why those early years are vitally important. The longer a student struggles with reading the more discouraged a reader becomes, so the sooner we can target those issues the better! That doesn't mean there isn't hope for those later years, it just means that the approach is different and there are going to be bigger attitudes to deal with based on the years of frustration built up. My goal is to give you some tips as you look to hire someone to help and to offer you some hope!
I do not necessarily recommend one reading program, because research has revealed that there is not a one-size-fits-all curriculum. What I do recommend is hiring someone who knows how to design a program that is personalized to target your struggling readers struggle. If you're looking to hire a reading teacher or tutor to help your reader, this is what you need to know:
Hire someone who knows how to assess effectively. When I assess a student I interview the parents, I consider what is happening at school, I want to know how the student reacts to the struggle, I want to hear the reader read, understand how the reader thinks about what they read, what tools they apply or do not apply to their struggle, I want to push them to the point of frustration so that I know what they do with it, I want to interview the student and hear their attitudes about reading, and more! It's laborious and time-consuming but it does produce what I believe to be a pretty good representation of where their struggle lies and how to target it effectively.
Hire someone who knows how to read the data. The goal is to take that assessment and find patterns and repetitions. Knowing what to look for and how to fix it is key to your reader finding success. But it's more than that! It's knowing the student, knowing how students learn (especially this student, because we are all unique), knowing what the research says about the behavior that the student is displaying, and knowing about the content you're going to teach.
Hire someone who is willing to get to know your student. The more that a teacher knows the more they care about their specific and unique situation. It also helps teachers find literature that the student will enjoy based on their likes, hobbies, and favorite things. Knowing your student helps meet their individual needs!
Hire someone who understands how students learn. It isn't just knowing good teaching strategies, lesson plan formats, research-based practices, but it's understanding how the brain functions. How do we learn best? That is what we're doing right? We are strengthening those brain muscles! If our goal is to build knowledge, don't you think it's a good idea that teachers understand it?
Hire someone who knows how to read the research. It isn't enough to Google it. There is a lot of misinformation out there. So where do you find the good stuff? Hire someone who knows.
Hire someone who understands the content they're going to teach. As an English/Language Arts teacher, I admit that there is a lot about this language I do not know. It is complex. However, I am confident with what I do know and I am confident in my ability to learn what I do not. Most importantly, I am confident in my ability to teach it.
Hire someone who knows how to develop a plan that meets your readers very specific and unique needs. Taking all the information gathered about your reader, a teacher can then develop a detailed report of the assessment and create a plan to implement based on the data, knowledge of the student, knowledge of how that student learns, knowledge of the content, knowledge of what the research reveals about the behavior being displayed and adding the goals created with the student.
Hire someone who creates realistic, tangible goals with your reader but also has underlying goals as listed above. Developing a love of reading and finding a favorite author or genre should be the heart of every reading teacher in existence. But this cannot be accomplished without helping a struggling reader know you care about them and helping them overcome the struggle. You cannot accomplish these goals without playing a major supporting role in their reading journey, encouraging them with speeches like, "I am not worried about the struggle! The struggle itself is not the issue, because it is proof that you are a living, breathing human being. All human beings struggle. I am worried about what you do when you struggle! My goal is to give you the tools to overcome whatever struggle you face." Viewing the struggle in this light makes all the difference. Especially when they're frustrated, overwhelmed, confused and discouraged. You need patience, caffeine and lots of extra love to pour into them in these moments, but also in the amazing moments of victory! Those struggles make the victories so much sweeter.
If you want to hire a reading teacher with a passion for literacy, contact me. I seriously want to help your reader succeed.
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