Job Title: Reading Specialist, Learning Disabilities Consultant
Type of Company: I work in a school district in Salem, New Hampshire as well as a Learning Disabilities Consultant for the State of New Hampshire Adult Education.
Education: BA, Psychology, UMass-Lowell M.Ed., University of New Hampshire
Previous Experience: I worked as an educational therapist at the Greenery Extended Care Facility in North Andover, MA, working with adults with traumatic brain injury. After doing some student teaching at a high school for students with learning disabilities, I was hired by the school as a special education teacher and case manager.
Job Tasks: As a Reading Specialist, I use different strategies and techniques to teach reading to adults. The adults that I teach range in ability from total illiteracy to almost being able to comprehend the material on the GED. Because of this range, I have to be flexible in my approach. I use graphic organizers, games that I have created to teach letters, sounds, patterns and sentence structure.
To become a reading specialist, you have to know about letters and the sounds they make and the ways those blend, fluency of the sound/letter combinations, and reading comprehension. When a student does not know the letters or sounds, I work on phonics. When a student does not have reading comprehension skills, I have to teach him how sentences work together to make meaning of the entire paragraph. Newspapers help me to teach about current events and about people in the news.
As a Learning Disabilities Consultant, I don't work with students exclusively. I also work with teachers and the directors of programs to come up with new ways to help students who are struggling and/or studying for the GED. I show them how to use study skills, organization skills and time management skills, and steer them to articles on traumatic brain injury, dyslexia, ADHD, learning disabilities and other topics that will help them understand their students.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of both my jobs is that I am always inventing ways to help students. I am constantly looking on the web for new ideas, attending workshops, applying for grants, and writing newsletters to my fellow educators to share ideas.
The worst part of the two positions is the realization that not every teacher is "hungry" to learn new information and utilize what is good practice for all students.
Job Tips: Someone who is thinking of pursuing a job as a teacher, reading specialist, or a learning disabilities consultant should be prepared to do a lot of preparation. Being organized and thorough the first time through will save you much time and effort in planning the next time. Consider earning a bachelor's degree in teaching and then teaching for a while and then getting a Master's degree in a field that you love. Patience is a must.
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