To the Editor:
Thanks to EdWeek for continuing to lift up the voices of educators and highlight important discussions happening in the field around effective literacy instruction (“What People Are Getting Wrong About the Science of Reading,” July 7, 2023). It was inspiring to read the opinion essay from two reading specialists about their success in improving literacy instruction in their school. It was great to read about how they’ve developed students’ foundational literacy skills, which support independent reading, and also fostered the development of background knowledge to aid comprehension of more complex books.
As a former school leader who prioritized helping teachers develop and improve their instructional practices, I found Brooke Wilkins and Lauren McNamara’s approach to synthesizing the research on effective reading instruction informative. I believe it has been key to their success. By defining what the science of reading means in a way that is accessible and leverages the best research and pedagogical practices, the authors have ensured everyone in their school has a common language and can focus on a unified approach to literacy instruction—one that emphasizes phonics as well as language comprehension.
Across the country and in schools, there are debates over how to teach reading. But the intentional leadership exemplified by Wilkins and McNamara helps ensure discussions remain civil, fact-based, and focused on what’s best for kids. The upshot is their school has been able to shift instruction in positive ways and develop a vision grounded in research and effective practices.
That’s an approach we can all learn from, and I am excited to share this essay with schools I support with professional development. Any school can benefit from the lessons these talented educators so thoughtfully offer.
Implementation Leader for Wit & Wisdom and Geodes
A version of this article appeared in the August 30, 2023 edition of Education Week as Informed Literacy Leadership Matters