My countless personal strengths and decades of professional experience in the administrative capacity as a licensed teacher, mental health counselor, and supervisor have given me the aptitude to naturally synthesize the duties and responsibilities this position requires. I have developed and implemented procedures for conducting individual reading sessions, and managed reading groups in special education classrooms by incorporating various groupings and presentation techniques. As a highly-qualified professional, I am solely responsible for handling the literacy education and reading process of students who have been deemed able to read and write. I believe my role as a clinician and advocate is to ensure that all students at my workplace have the best possible literacy education. My infectious, enthusiastic personality has given me a zealousness and passion during individual reading sessions that has benefited many students to further their learning. To this end, I possess a firm command of the subject of teaching literacy to this population of students and remain proud of the numerous accomplishments that I have been charged with this year.
First, I have an obvious keen interest in all my students. My continuous learning comes from multiple sources such as actively participating in all team meetings, professional development sessions, reading students’ IEPs, collaborating steadily with several colleagues from different professional backgrounds, reviewing students’ records, and talking with classroom teachers to incorporate the best possible reading services for each students’ integrated education. My effort to provide an environment for students where their self-esteem, self-respect for others, and independence are developed as priorities is strongly encouraged. Using interactive read-alouds as part of the balanced literacy equation is the main vehicle I apply. In a balanced literacy program, students see reading and writing modeled, share in the reading and writing with the teacher, are coached, practice independently, and are actively engaged in word study.
Next, as a former seasoned public school teacher and licensed reading specialist, I strive to maintain high, rigorous standards for what I know is right for each individual student. By providing a solid reading experience for students, I am an advocate for them in many ways. For example, in addition to attaining knowledge specific to each student, I consult a variety of learning and development theories to make informed decisions about instructional content and teaching methods. Based on my prior theoretical knowledge and practical experience in the regular classroom, I consistently strive to understand each student’s individual cognitive strength so that my work as reading clinician will make a significant difference in their reading development. My objective is to determine how to capitalize on their assets as I consider how to best nurture the students’ abilities and aptitudes. I integrate all of this to synthesize my understanding into a coherent whole.
I also recognize personality traits are always part of the interplay between behavior and learning. I take these into consideration when interacting with students, planning for instruction, and interpreting assessments. This kind of specific understanding of students is critical, and I use it constantly to tailor my daily instruction for students both within their classrooms and with students I teach individually. I seek to anticipate which activities and books certain students may find problematic and which activities and books students take delight or pleasure in while planning a small group. I look for signs of individual student engagement and address any misunderstandings as they arise. By keeping a finger on the pulse of the individual lesson and reading group, I often make decisions when to alter plans, focus on an individual student, or enrich instruction with additional examples, explanations, and activities.
I have gained substantial knowledge about the unique special education population of students I work with daily. My biggest challenges have been applying the professional knowledge that I have about the developmental stages of learning to read and shaping it to fit the reading lessons for the specific personality traits and abilities of the students that I see. While I have taken many opportunities this year to chip away at this immense task, I also know that I am closer to accomplishing this objective than I had been a year ago. Another challenge I have encountered is knowing which professional I need to speak to about various ideas, suggestions for improvements, and for which purposes. Being part of a team of professionals at my work has been a very rewarding experience for me, yet at the same time, the expertise I have in teaching literacy is far greater than other departments’ expertise in literacy. Consequently, I’m gaining strength in reflecting how I can share the scope of my knowledge with others so they will understand the most effective steps that need to be taken to teach reading and writing.
Future ways to grow in my professional development include researching strategies and approaches to find ways to show adult learners how they can gain literacy knowledge after they leave this school (i.e. accessing books to listen to, connecting students with local collaborative programs so they can maintain their interest in adult learning using educational models and learning environments, collaborate with leaders in the students’ community who can assist them with Internet communication and library resources, etc.).
Finally, all the information that I acquire about my students, individual attributes, and reading groups through the course of my day is assimilated to inform my understanding of teaching and learning, which transforms my practice.