People do not realize that teaching reading is one of the most difficult jobs on the planet! I began teaching on August 16, 2000 in a 1st grade classroom. I was 25 years old and didn’t have a clue about how to teach 6 year olds how to read. Luckily for me I had an experienced principal who realized that I needed reading training so that I could teach my students how to read. I can remember like it was yesterday sitting in reading training for Neuhaus, Success For All, Reading Mastery, Open Court and the list could go on and on. All of the reading training that I received as a 1st and 2nd grade teacher has made me the teacher that I am today. I’m not trying to toot my own horn but there’s not a subject that I cannot teach because I have a literacy background. That is not the case with most of the teachers that I have encountered. Truth be told most teachers are only effective in one content area.
A couple of years ago a colleague and I were having a conversation about the schools in Europe. She said that the European teachers held dual certification in math and science and English teachers had dual certifications in English and social studies. I thought that this was very interesting because it is very rare to have teachers who hold dual certifications on any school campus. It has been years since we had that conversation but the idea has always stuck with me and has evolved into the thought that literacy is everyone’s responsibility. I have worked in elementary, middle and high school and I have sat and listened to teachers say that the students can’t read and that they don’t teach reading. In my mind I was thinking, “So what!”
If you teach or find yourself teaching in an urban school or school district you do not service the same kind of students as your suburban colleagues. Research states that reading readiness begins at home because children should come to school with 1,000 hours of lap time (being read to). Most of the students in urban schools arrive at their kindergarten teachers’ door with 500 lap hours. Most urban students are behind in reading before they sit down inside of their first elementary classroom. How can a few teachers take responsibility for students that are behind when research states that if a student who is not on grade level in reading by 3rd grade will basically always struggle with reading?
It is my belief that all elementary teachers in urban schools should be trained in reading because all content area teachers will most certainly encounter students who are struggling readers. I also think that all secondary teachers should be trained in literacy and metacognitive strategies because at the secondary level all the curriculum is asking the students to do is think. If a school is representative of an ecosystem then all teachers are connected and when one thing lacks in the ecosystem then it no longer operates as it should. Next time you hear your colleagues or the P.E. teacher say that they don’t teach reading, please turn around and tell them so what!