Not Just For Reading Teachers Anymore
According to the L. Dieker and M. Little on their article “Secondary Reading: Not Just for Reading Teachers Anymore”: Frustration can be inevitable to most content area teachers when their students have difficulty in reading at secondary level. This is so because reading is critical, not just because more states implement content area tests for high school graduation, it affects a student in his performance in its entire courses. This is especially true to students with special needs when there is evidence of their learning inadequacies due to physical, mental or emotional anomalies. Thus, educational experts come up with the idea of collaboration. It presupposes that two heads are better than one, that one teacher looks into one area, the other into another area— the two combine their potentials to make the learning experience truly meaningful. In this sense, literacy instruction is integrated into the content areas with a collaborative approach between general and special education for increased content mastery and improved literacy skills for secondary student.
Furthermore, this set-up calls for a response to the accountability of the teachers to the part of the administrators. As accountability increases so does the importance of providing teachers instructional strategies that reflect the strongest research base available to teach to all students while enhancing literacy skills within the content areas (Carnine, 1999 as cited by Dieker and Little, 2005). Teachers therefore must be provided high quality professional development and time to implement and practice new skills in recognition of their ability to solve problems and affect change in school. Thus, the need to have a vision to achieve is necessity.
Reforms therefore toward an inclusive environment are suggested. Collaboration is imminence on this type of setting, where teachers share their expertise on specific areas of concern (Scullion). Attitude counts. A positive learning climate should be cultivated. Further, appropriate accommodations must be implemented to students with reading needs.
And what must be done? Do co-teach. It is an instructional practice than can be very effective. Another, do same-age tutoring through prediction. Use literature circles. Do dissect, a decoding strategy designed for secondary learners. Apply paraphrasing strategy. Implement assistive technology.
Consequently, nine points have been identified that are critical when addressing reading instruction at the secondary level. These are: the belief about reading in content areas, colleagues’ view regarding the role related to content teaching and reading, instructional and graduation demands for all students, supports and professional development activities, alignment of general and special educators’ expectations, compatibility or incompatibility of students’ reading needs in general education content classes, effective use of technology and goals relative to the learning and mastery of content.
Two heads are better than one as the saying goes. In fact, the wisdom of this passage may somehow reverberate into an educational implication, that is, two teachers planning and teaching in a classroom makes a difference. Indeed, that is the most innovative idea, which can revolutionize our understanding of learning. Yes, one head has much to give out: as our way most of us have been taught at schools, when concepts of collaboration are not fully understood, when the ideals of multi-learning of tasks in one setting might be taken for granted. But we evolve. Our understanding and in-depth realization of the significance of learning might have come to a point, wherein it realizes that the more people think, the more people would join forces, the more we regard the people around us— the more there is power. In the unity of minds comes great surprises, educational surprises!
The learning of reading might have been limited due to the students’ capacity to fit themselves in as they are bound by limitations. This is more real in students with special needs, when they cannot compete with their regular peers. Teaching reading in the classroom is possible. But the question points out into the efficacy at which it can be maximized into the potentials of children. In itself, reading is happening— but what is desired is the quality of output. A satisfactory output can only be made if there is an efficient input on the part of the teacher. Thus, two teachers will make a difference: one will address the content area, the other will address the literacy portion. To think, this is a better arrangement, better than all other educational theories put to the test. Collaborative teaching, support teaching— whatever educational experts will call it can extol the learning possibility of an individual. This approach will sustain the learning experiences a student is thriving himself, even to his own limits. In collaboration, various educational aspects are addressed, notwithstanding the students’ assimilation of two or more teachers’ capabilities (Parrott, 2003).
But no matter how educational wisdom defines a simple classroom learning experience, if the students themselves disregard the value of the opportunity that are offered— no educational principle can make an overnight miracle. But still I don’t say nothing is happening, learning still is taking place, but not beyond expectations. Yet, a setting like these can be inevitable for reasons of circumstances. How many of our students perhaps are suffering from parental neglect? How many of them are living in poverty? How many of them are having teenage moms? How many of them are living not with their parents? How many of them don’t have the idea of family? How many of them don’t even know what the school is all about? Sad to note, reality bites— as these kids in our classroom may echo their personal struggles in their isolation and indifference to value. They may not even appreciate what collaboration is all about. They may not be able to understand why there are two teachers in a classroom. They may not even understand why they are there in school.
Perhaps, this can be a collaborative frustration on the part of the teachers. But reading simply tells one to read not just the literal sense of the words, but the meaning beyond the lines that these students are being written. Thus, it is only after a committed effort to undo these students in their entirety, that somehow the merits of collaboration can make sense into their young minds— so the consequences can be extraordinary!
by Cromwell Artiaga, Ed.D.