Perhaps you have been considering pursuing a further degree in the field of education, and you wonder precisely what a reading specialist does. Specifically, a reading specialist helps schools and other educational institutions implement quality reading instruction that meets the reading needs of students, including struggling ones.
A Reading Specialist Supports Teachers
A reading specialist generally holds a master’s degree in reading, and he or she is certified K-12 in order to help students of all ages with their reading skills. According to Reading Rockets, the main way that reading specialists do this is by supporting regular classroom teachers in their efforts to help students with their reading skills. They don’t replace classroom teachers or teaching, but in the words of the International Reading Association’s recommendation, they support, supplement and extend that instruction.
A Reading Specialist is a Creative Collaborator
Sometimes that might mean teaching the whole class, team teaching, teaching alongside the regular teacher or pulling students aside into small groups to work with them on reading skills. It might also mean advising or making suggestions to the teacher about ways they can enhance what they’re already doing, or helping them to modify their current curriculum to meet certain specific student needs.
Reading specialists are trained to do these kinds of activities because they are trained to assess students’ reading skills and diagnose different kinds of reading difficulties. These may be developmentally-appropriate reading challenges or issues like dyslexia.
A school that has a reading specialist on board has someone uniquely placed to help students. Once reading specialists have assessed reading skills and challenges, they can report on those findings to other professionals who are in a position to help create and implement a strong, individualized reading plan for a child. This might include not only the child’s regular teacher but a special education teacher, a parent, a speech therapist or a psychologist.
A Reading Specialist Can Help an Entire School
One of the best things a reading specialist can do is to provide resources and leadership for an entire school. This can take many forms, including the crafting of special weeks to get kids in all grades excited about reading, or coming up with multiple themes to encourage reading throughout a whole school year. While a reading specialist is partly diagnostician, he or she should also be an encourager and motivator. While struggling readers may need the most individual care and attention, all students will need help from time to time in overcoming their reluctance to read or becoming more confident and relaxed readers who retain what they read well. A good reading specialist may not only help a school increase its overall test scores in reading, but promote an environment where reading is seen as an exciting thing to do.
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While many reading specialists work in public or private K-12 schools, others may work in resource learning or tutoring centers with students of all ages. A reading specialist is an expert in teaching reading who can support and encourage stronger reading skills in the classroom and out. What a reading specialist does can change someone’s skill set and increase their chance of overall educational success.