Bean and Goatley (2021), present three areas, or roles of expertise required for Reading Specialists. These roles are instruction, assessment, and leadership. “This role requires the specialist to have expertise with reading assessment, instruction, and to possess the leadership skills that enable them to work with other adults, such as classroom teachers, other professionals, and the community,” (Bean & Goatley, 2021). This has led me to think about how each of these areas affect my role as a reading specialist. What are my strengths and where do I need to gain more knowledge and experience?
The first area I would like to explore is the instructor role. This role seems to be the one most people are familiar with. I had always assumed a Reading Specialist’s main focus was on helping individual students learn how to read and just pulled students out to work with them one on one. During my personal education journey, I didn’t see any Reading Specialists or have any knowledge that they even existed. However, I did graduate high school in 1996 and as was discussed in the class, the role of the Reading Specialist has changed over time due to many different legislations and policies according to Bean and Goatley (2021).
The second area is that of assessment. I do need to gain more knowledge in this area as Reading Specialist need to keep up with all current and constantly changing assessments. Assessments are critical in instruction decision-making. I work for a school that hosts all the grades through high school and all students are special needs. I teach 6th grade through 12th grade English. We assess all our students in reading and math at the beginning of each school year using KTA. These assessments help teachers understand what types of modifications they need for each individual student. We do not employ a Reading Specialist, however, as the English teacher, I have been working with other teachers to come up with ideas to help their students in their content areas.
Finally, the last area I am interested in gaining more knowledge is leadership. Reading Specialists have always had a leadership role in school. “What has not changed is that Literacy Specialist have always had to serve in a dual role the required them to teach students and support teachers” (Bean & Goatley, 2021). This could be a difficult role for a newly hired Reading Specialist. You need to build a repertoire with both the teachers and the students, and this is done over time. These are many skills someone needs to be a good and effective leader.
I acknowledge that I need to work on learning new assessments, how to administer them and score them. I also need to learn how to take this knowledge and transfer it into new modifications and accommodations. This newfound knowledge will enable me to create stronger and more interesting lessons plans that will strengthen my English teacher skills.
When I started teaching 6 years ago, I didn’t see myself as a leader at first. I was still learning how to be a teacher and how to relate to my coworkers and students. I was unaware of the amount of learning and personal education that went into becoming a Reading Specialist. These roles of instruction, assessment, and leadership take an exceptional person. It is my desire to be able to take on all of those roles to become the Reading Specialist that I know I can be.
Bean, R. M., Goatley, V.J. (2021). The Literacy Specialist. Leadership and coaching for the classroom, school, and community. 4th ed (374 pgs) Guildford Press.