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Career Story: Reading Specialist In A Suburban Elementary School

Reading Specialist In A Suburban Elementary School

Job Title: Reading Specialist

Type of Company: I work for a school district in suburban MA

Education: BA, Elementary Education, UMass-Amherst •• MA, Literacy and Language, Framingham State

Previous Experience: I worked as a special teacher's aide for 2 1/2 years and as a classroom teacher for 2 years. Afterwards, I went back to school to get my masters in Literacy & Language and got my job as a reading specialist right after graduating.

Job Tasks: Each day I meet with five or six small groups (of 5 or 6 children) and work with the students to make them better, stronger readers. The groups are selected at the start of the year, but their boundaries are porous and students move in and out. Over time, I decide myself which students will be in which of the groups by assessing their reading skills and speaking with their classroom teachers. If the teachers, parents, and I can all agree that the students would benefit from my services, I begin seeing them. Ultimately, though, students are assigned to groups based on both their shortcomings and their needs. One group, for example, will have a stronger focus on decoding, while another will focus mostly on comprehension.

Another part of my job is to assess and report on students' progress. These weekly reports serve a couple of functions. The most important of them is to provide information to a team of teachers known as the SST (Student Study Team). The SST meets with a different classroom teacher every week and they try to make suggestions on the best ways to deal with individual students. To bolster and assist their efforts, I suggest certain tactics that teachers can employ when confronting different reading disabilities. But my reports are also used to keep parents informed, and they often prove especially pertinent when I recommend students for testing through the special education department.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is working with the students every day. Their reading develops so much over the year that it's extremely fulfilling to see. Reading doesn't come easily to most of them and many, at first, don't enjoy it. I do my best, though, to make it fun for them and together we have a great time!

Job Tips:
1. It's important to have experience as a classroom teacher first, so that you will know how you can support the teachers effectively.

2. Stay on top of your professional development courses. This will not only prepare you for license renewal, but it will also provide you with fresh ideas to keep the job interesting!

3. Don't forget to have fun with the kids. In the end, it's all about them!

Additional Thoughts: The biggest surprise for me has been just how much I love the job. I never imagined enjoying coming to work this much!

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