Think back to the first day of your teaching career. You came prepared with textbooks, materials, and lesson plans. But did you come fully prepared to teach reading?
Some teachers believe that you can’t be fully prepared to teach until you start teaching—that hands-on experience is the only way to really learn how to effectively present reading instruction.
If that were true, if the only way to gain the confidence required to teach reading effectively was through hands-on experience, think of all the students we would fail on our way to becoming proficient teachers.
Research shows that 70% of students will learn to read regardless of how they are taught. But that 30% require explicit, systematic instruction to become successful readers. If a teacher needs five years of instruction under her belt before being able to teach effectively, and she has had 30 students per class, then she will have taught 150 students before hitting her prime. Of those 150 students, 30% will have failed to receive the instruction they need. This means that 45 students over the course of five years will struggle with reading as a result of the teacher’s lack of instructional skills. We cannot stand idly by and accept that hands-on experience is the only way to become an effective teacher.
In a perfect world, teachers would be fully prepared to teach reading before ever setting foot in a classroom. Unfortunately, there is a deficit between how prepared we are as first-year teachers and how prepared we’d like to be. In order to resolve the deficit, we need to prepare teachers at the university level so they can teach effectively from day one.
This is why we’ve created the Reading Horizons Online Reading Workshop. Reading Horizons has partnered with over 50 universities to have our Reading Workshop as part of their pre-service teacher curriculum. This way they are able to expose pre-service teachers to explicit, systematic instruction that will enable them to reach 100% of their future students throughout their educational careers. And while I’m not saying that the Workshop will completely resolve the preparedness deficit of young teachers, it is definitely a step in the right direction.
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Even if you’re not a pre-service teacher or a first-year teacher, it’s never too late to brush up on your reading instruction.