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What to Expect as a Reading Specialist

The International Literacy Association (ILA) defines a reading specialist as a teacher for students who find reading difficult. The ILA goes on to expand the definition to a literacy or reading coach. Many reading specialists work only with children in grades K-12. Others hold positions where they divide their time between working as a reading specialist and working with teachers as a literacy coach. Literacy specialist, teacher, and author Regie Routman believes that all teachers should become literacy specialists because all children need teachers who understand the complicated process of reading. By Routman's definition, earning a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Literacy Studies would be a career benefit for any teacher.

What do reading specialists do?

Reading specialists support the literacy infrastructure in a school. They do this is by contributing to regular classroom teachers’ efforts to improve students’ reading skills. They don't replace classroom teachers; rather, they support, supplement and extend instruction. Sometimes reading specialists pull small groups of students or individuals to work on specific reading strategies and skills. Other days reading specialists are asked to create professional development workshops for in-service days. This is a great time for reading specialists to get to know teachers and make sure there is a unified model for teaching reading. When teachers earn an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Literacy Studies they are poised to build literacy for all students in a district.

Why do teachers choose to focus on this specific area?

One of the more difficult processes to understand when teachers start teaching is reading. Reading is not just about matching sounds to letters; in fact, there is a whole body and mind component to reading, which makes it very different for each student. This means that teachers who teach reading need to have a toolbox of skills and strategies in order to help each child the way that child needs to be helped. Completing an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Literacy Studies program may significantly improve your ability to teach reading. As a reading specialist, you have a unique ability to become the expert in your district at something many teachers find difficult to teach. Despite the difficulty, reading is also one of the most important skills a person will ever learn. So teachers who choose to become reading specialists understand that they are truly helping to grow a more educated citizenry.

There is a call in every school district across the country for reading specialists who can help all children become fluent readers. Earning a master’s degree in literacy studies is one route to this promising career path. Being an expert at teaching reading can be a valuable tool for any teacher. The relationships you build with students as they learn to read can help them feel positive about books forever.

Learn more about the UT Arlington M.Ed. in Literacy Studies online program.


Sources:

http://www.literacyworldwide.org/get-resources/standards/standards-for-reading-professionals

http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/instructional-coordinators.htm


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