I’m back…

Not quite sure what happened… Other than, like winter, life sunk its hooks in like it was gasping for its last breath.

It feels good to be back in the saddle again. So good, in fact, I rolled out of bed at 2 a.m. Itching to share my next piece. Insane…I know but well worth it!

This has been a topic brewing for weeks now. Enjoy!

The Reading Specialist

I’ve collected these misconceptions from a plethora of people over the past ten years. Please note, I speak from my truth only and do not intend to imply these thoughts come from anyone in particular. I must start by clarifying some unspoken myths.

Myth #1
Reading Specialists don’t have a classroom full of kids all day. What exactly do they do?

Truth
I have 65-70 students a day. I have to know each of their strengths, deficits, and needs.

I may only have them for a short period during the day but that makes it even more crucial that I know what style of learner they are, what motivates them to learn; and for most of them, make sure they are are in an emotionally safe state so they can learn.

Myth # 2: Reading Specialists Don’t Have to Grade Papers?

Truth

This is correct. However…

We instruct, assess and reteach in the moment. That’s why small groups are critical. Reaching the needs of 1,2, and some times, 3, or 4 is doable. Much more then that is insane!

Because it happens so quickly we don’t always have time to write it all down so that nonexistent, 5 min. travel time, is spent reflecting and writing notes for tomorrow’s lesson.

Myth # 3: You don’t Plan? How Do You Teach My Students?

Truth

I can’t plan a weeks worth of lessons. I have to know my students well enough that I can have supplies and resources available in the moment. I have to be prepared to teach anything at any moment that would be appropriate for where they are at on the learning continuum.

Literacy is funny like that. While it is important that you teach literacy comprehensively there are skills that must be mastered before others can be mastered.

While those are my top three, I’m sure there are some more I could add to the list. So no, my job is not like the classroom teachers (thank goodness! I couldn’t do what they do! They have my highest respect) but it is important. In the end, we both want the same thing. That is, what is best for our students!

I hope you enjoyed! Have a fabulous day!

Day 4: Respect for the Classroom Teacher

Day 4: Respect for the classroom teacher

How Many Hats

I see it everyday. Classroom teachers switching from teacher hat, to parent hat, to nurse hat, to counselor hat. Not to undermine any of those people’s job or responsibilities but because when their “kids” are in their care they automatically take on those responsibilities. Teachers, like magicians, can pull a hat out of their pocket as fast as you can blink an eye.

I’ve seen classroom teachers, proudly wearing that teacher hat, then poof, parent hat appears when they see a child struggling.

I’ve even seen teachers continue to wear teacher hat and play nurse without blinking an eye. I don’t think any of the kids even noticed!

It’s amazing to witness!! Thank you classroom teachers for taking on this huge responsibility.

Teacher Hat Duties

*Prepare lesson plans while keeping in mind each child’s individual needs so they can be accommodated.

*Preparing lessons for, any where from 2-4 different subjects.

*Making sure there are substitute lesson plans available at all times in case of an emergency.

*administering assessments (some teachers have to administer assessments individually)

*analyze assessments for instruction purposes.

*Grade assignments (this sometimes happens as students complete it so that the child and teacher can reflect)

*Manage a classroom full of children all day! Sure their kids go to specials or recess. (You should see what a teacher can accomplish in a 15-25 min break)

They can:
*plan
*grade/analyze assessments
*make phone calls to parents (not just bad ones they love to share with parents how well their children are doing)
*collaborate with colleagues
*deal with behavior issues
*and if they’re lucky they might get to go to the bathroom (but not until they completed this whole list first)

Parent Hat Duties
*show compassion
*discipline
*respond to emotional needs
*assist

Nurse Hat Duties
*put on band aids
*pull teeth
*wipe noses
*care for students who throw up

Counselor Hat Duties
*respond to students’ emotional needs
*talk with their kids
*seek help from counselors

Back to the Grind; Just Keep Moving…

Well…snow days are over! I gotta say it’s kind of a bitter sweet notion! I miss my afternoon nap, wearing pjs all day and most especially, getting housework caught up!!

But being back is nice. The routine is good. I missed my kids. I think most of all I missed the challenges of being a “specials” teacher. Its not the same as being a classroom teacher. All of you educators out there know what I’m talking about.

I don’t have the same kids all day with very few breaks. I get to go pee when I need to (most of the time). I don’t have stacks of papers to grade and grades due by a certain time. I just get the luxury of teaching reading! (Riiiiiiht)

That being said, I would like to share my challenges. I decided for the next 30 days I’m going to do just that.

Please keep in mind this is not about me complaining or looking for sympathy. I love my job! I only want to share with you the life of a remedial reading teacher. My triumphs, my struggles, and the blessings of being a part of the next generation’s journey of becoming our future!

Today’s theme: Just keep moving!

I’m not the only one who feels this way today. I can see it on everyone’s face as we pass in the hall or slump down in the teachers workroom chairs for a quick breather.

Even the kids. They’re somewhat mechanical. They’re moving around in a tired frenzy to accomplish a task just to move to the next task so that the 3:14 bell will ring before they know it.

Which brings me around to what seems like the whole public education is about now days. Cram these 5,786,564 Common Core standards down so we can move on to the next thing. Gotta have it, it’s on the test! Most importantly, it’s gotta be done before this time, or they will fail the test.

Job Security

I guess I shouldn’t complain. This is part of my job security. WRONG… I despise any type of failure. When we don’t invest, we fail. When we don’t reach 100% of our students, we fail. I won’t be a part of a profession that fails our future and I don’t know a teacher out there who wants to either.

My Solution

I mentioned in a previous post, my boss doesn’t let me present a problem without having a solution. I guess I could go in there without a solution but I would just leave frustrated and trying to figure one out. So, like a rebellious teenager, I always go in prepared.

For this problem, I say, we just slow down. Take a deep breathe and remind ourselves why we choose this profession in the first place.

Again, I’m going to take you back to a previous post “Talking to Kids is Crucial.” Though this was geared more toward parents, as educators we need to remember to let our kids talk. Let them tell us what they know so that we can guide them to higher level thinking. Let them tell us what their confusions are. Let them guide the lesson. I’m not saying don’t do lesson plans. Having a rough guide is important.

As a reading specialist, I can’t create monthly, or even weekly lesson plans. I have to create plans daily. I know this sounds outrageous to a classroom teacher. You’re thinking I can’t create plans daily! I wouldn’t have resources. What would I do if…!

STOP…take a breath. Trust yourself. You know your kids. You know you have to stand by Johnny because he won’t stay focused if you don’t. You know that Susie has to stand to concentrate on the task in front of her.

Have your basic blueprint. But just like any contractor will tell you, “You’re not going to follow it to the ‘T’.” The owner may want this room moved over here or modified this way to better fit the family’s needs. Be that contractor, build what your students need, not what the blueprint says they need.