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Ways to boost literacy – for teachers and students

Literacy development is a top concern in education, politics and the news these days. Unfortunately, there are also so many other aspects of teaching to cover that the average teacher certification program may not include nearly enough courses focused solely on teaching reading. Due to district pressures around reading levels and test scores in literacy, it is becoming more common for teachers to look for professional development specifically for reading. A master's degree in literacy can provide just that support because the emphasis on literacy helps teachers home in on the classroom challenges they most need to face.

How teachers can feel more confident teaching reading

When teachers feel more confident about teaching reading, they are better teachers. Better teachers help students succeed. This makes it imperative for teachers to learn how literacy development works and which reading strategies strengthen fluency, comprehension and decoding ability. Through a master's degree in literacy program, teachers may also be invited to participate as a part of a summer literacy program. These programs are designed to help teachers feel more confident about their reading lessons, as well as support struggling students throughout the summer. It's a win-win situation in which many teachers and students thrive.

How learning more about reading instruction can help you teach math

Many teachers compartmentalize the parts of their day. Math and literacy development are considered different subjects. However, Marilyn Burns, renowned math instructor and founder of the blog Math Solutions, says, "The standard for math should be the same as the standard for reading: bringing meaning to the printed symbols. In both situations, skills and understanding must go hand in hand. The challenge is: How do we help students develop meaning and make sense of what they do?" An online master's degree in literacy program can help educators show children how to  develop strategies for making meaning out of what they are being taught. Students who understand how to make sense of the printed word will be able to understand that the same skills must be used with other printed symbols. This is literacy development that creates lifelong comprehension skills.

A master's degree in literacy can make you indispensable to your school

Teachers who learn how to teach reading more proficiently and can clearly articulate what strategies help kids succeed will be able to share their learning with colleagues. Teachers need to work together to share what works in the classroom. If one teacher is more proficient at one strategy and is seeing success in literacy development, she could create a train-the-trainer model of success within the school or district. Literacy expert Regie Routman writes in her book Read, Write, Lead: Breakthrough Strategies for Schoolwide Literacy Success that the way to create schools with exceptional literacy development is to ensure that all leaders in the school are literacy experts. With a master's degree in literacy, teachers can be assured that they are a part of the answer to improving education.

Reading is a complicated process, but at its core is a love of reading and the desire for understanding and connecting. Teachers who meet their children where they are and learn more about what they need in order to grow as readers can improve literacy development in their classrooms. Teachers who share this knowledge with their colleagues, administration and parents can become literacy leaders in their communities.

Learn more about UTA’s online Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction with an Emphasis in Literacy Studies.


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