Reading & Literacy

Teachers to Administrators: What We Wish You Knew About Reading Instruction

By Catherine Gewertz — March 02, 2020 4 min read
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Reading instruction is a hot topic right now. There’s lots of buzz about how to get K-12 teachers to embrace methods that are solidly grounded in research. There’s another layer of debate about how to get teacher-preparation programs to teach evidence-based reading instruction to aspiring teachers. And a new wave of state laws have passedthat are designed to hold schools’ feet to the fire on reading instruction.

All of this activity has sparked a range of reactions from teachers, from reluctance and uncertainty to excited support. But a recent thread of conversation on Twitter also shows that they’re feeling frustrated. Many teachers are not seeing eye-to-eye with their bosses on what reading instruction should look like, and the value of various strategies.

Kicked off last week by teacher and reading consultant Cris Tovani, the Twitter thread piled up dozens of responses. Here’s what Tovani asked Twitterverse: What do you wish your administrators knew about reading instruction?

Some teachers signalled that they aren’t getting the leadership they need on reading instruction.

There’s certainly some frustration out there. This Colorado Springs teacher has a list of things he wish his administrator knew.

Then there’s this:

A few people pointed to the school library and media specialists as an important and overlooked resource.

A number of participants in the conversation said they wished their administrators recognized the value of cross-disciplinary literacy.

Another popular theme was how building subject-specific literacy skills should go hand-in-hand with building students’ content knowledge, something that’s widely recognized as an important key to students’ reading skills.

One teacher, responding to @Mr_ARobertson, tweeted that the No Child Left Behind Act, which focused schools heavily on math and English/language arts, didn’t help the cause of strengthening students’ knowledge in other key subjects.

Clusters of tweets argued in favor of sustained silent reading, a practice that many teachers love. (Research on this practice can be a little confusing. Studies show a correlation between reading more and being a better reader. But there isn’t a big research base that shows that independent reading actually causes students to become better readers.)

This tweet is from a reading professor.

In the swirl of conversation about sustained silent reading, one administrator stepped in with this:

Image: Pablo by Buffer

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.