I believe that teaching is the most important profession in the world. How else can we continue to develop in such a technical world, or in any other way, for that matter? Without the transfer of knowledge to young minds, we will stagnate and wither as a world. Teaching is hope for better, more successful futures. Learning is hope for becoming better individuals, for gaining intelligence, and for implementing practical experiences in our future. Since we always tell our children that they should plan for their futures and work to realize those goals, the teaching profession should “practice what it preaches” by helping young people to reach those goals. Teaching reading during the past five years has been rewarding beyond my imagination. I have watched non-readers become readers, I have watched scores and student confidence improve, and I have been part of that change. What a reward!
Staying current with professional development is our fast-moving world is crucial. In my teaching career, I doubt that I have invented any method of teaching reading that has not been previously used in some way by someone else, but I have done many of the same things in reading classes that are currently being taught to new reading teachers today. Even so, I have endeavored to learn new techniques in my area, especially during the past five years. I have taken as many inservice courses and have attended as many of the professional conferences as I could without sacrificing the time owed my students.
Obviously, the most recent focus in education has been reading, and naturally, a language arts teacher must focus on reading in order to help her students develop into well-rounded communicators. Learning to implement new ways of teaching the reading strategies is rewarding, though challenging. Students are not always open to change when it comes to their learning styles, anymore so than some teachers are. But with a little ingenuity and a great deal of training, change has become easier for me as a reading teacher. Not only do professional activities lend themselves to opportunities to learn new ideas, they are also ways that we professionals can share our experiences—our victories and our defeats—with others, creating a bond and a network from which we all can gain support and advice when we need it.
Since my time of training for the reading competencies, I have served on the school literacy team. In addition to setting goals and working to achieve those for our school as a whole, I have tried to mentor some of the younger teachers who did not teach reading the first year it was offered at our school. I have tried to be an inspiration, a cheerleader, and encourager. I have offered to help with their classes, to help with lessons, to offer supplies, or whatever other things I could do to serve as a sort of “cheerleader for reading” at my school. As a result, we now have several teachers who are also implementing those important reading...