Career Story: School District Literacy Specialist

School District Literacy Specialist

Type of Company: I work for a school district in Portland, Oregon.

Education: BA, English, Oregon State University •• M.Ed, Curriculum and Instruction, Portland State University

Previous Experience: I taught eighth grade language arts and social studies.

Job Tasks: As a district literacy specialist, I spend much of my time training and coaching middle and high school teachers on the most effective ways to improve the reading skills of struggling adolescents. I run workshops and conferences for teachers. I go into classrooms to observe and give non-evaluative feedback; I model lessons in teachers' classrooms; I sit with teachers and help them plan instruction; I look at testing data and help teachers analyze it; and I meet with administrators to help them create schoolwide literacy plans.

I also attend numerous district meetings to look at district data and how we can better serve our students and help create district literacy plans.

In a typical day, I visit a school to meet with a teacher and discuss with them areas of their teaching that they would like help with. We look at the literacy curriculum they use and I talk them through some of the more unfamiliar parts of it or give them examples of how I or others have taught it. We then set some goals for a lesson (for example helping a particular student master a reading strategy through a reading conference), and plan a lesson. Usually the teacher asks me to model how I would teach the lesson in one period and then I observe them teach the lesson in a different period. We would then spend some time talking about how it went and what was learned.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best parts of my job are having the chance to work with some amazing teachers who are passionate about teaching teenagers and helping them become better readers. Teachers rarely get to leave their classrooms to see how other people do it, so I feel very privileged that I have this opportunity. I also love seeing the students, especially when I work with a particular teacher over a period of time and can get to know the kids.

The worst part of my job is having to work with teachers who are sub-par and don't care about improving their methods.

Job Tips:
1.) Truly believe that all students can learn and that you can help them achieve.

2.) Read the research about how our brains learn best and about which literacy methods work best with adolescents.

3.) Develop your skills for both working with students and adults. (Adults are much harder to work with!)

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