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What Is a Reading Specialist?

The amazing thing about classrooms these days is that they are inclusive. They are filled with children who are healthy and ready to learn. They also hold kids who have emotional, physical and learning challenges, as well as those who live in poverty and in families where English is not a first language. Although current classrooms are exciting places of diverse possibilities, they are also very challenging for teachers who must ensure that each child reaches standard benchmarks in reading. A reading specialist can make a huge difference by targeting reading problems early and mapping a plan for success.

What Does a Reading Specialist So?

A reading specialist typically has a master’s degree in reading or literacy, and is certified to teach reading skills to students in kindergarten through 12th grade. Many reading specialists do this by supporting classroom teachers within the classroom. Others pull students out each day to develop reading skills and foster a love of reading in a small, less distracting group setting. Reading specialists work closely with classroom teachers to support, strengthen and extend student learning. A reading specialist must have a toolbox of different strategies and methods designed to reach each student’s diverse needs. While learning how to become a reading specialist, teachers are trained to assess students’ reading skills and diagnose different kinds of reading difficulties. These can range from short-term memory issues to dyslexia.

Why are Reading Specialists so Good for Schools?

Reading specialists can share resources and be a leader of literacy best practices for the school. They can research literacy-based themes and motivate all teachers and students to read more and celebrate books. A good reading specialist can assist a school in improving test scores in reading, as well as promote an environment where reading is seen as valuable and special. In learning how to become a reading specialist, teachers will become well versed in how to seamlessly integrate reading extension programs and small-group instruction into the classroom so that students feel a part of the whole instead of separated out from stronger students.

How to Become a Reading Specialist

Teachers who wish to become reading specialists will need to hold a master’s degree in reading or literacy. Having a master’s degree in reading can boost your salary by as much as $5,000. In order to complete reading specialist training, a short internship in an instructional setting may be required. The coursework to become a reading specialist generally covers topics such as technology in the classroom, curriculum development, and theories and models of reading and reading instruction. If the reading specialist position in your district is considered an administrative position, you may have to work year-round, but your pay may be significantly higher than a classroom teacher’s.

Becoming a reading specialist can transform your professional development. To be a leader in the community around literacy, reading and community involvement is to become a positive force in developing democratic citizens who succeed as adults, leaders and parents. Reading specialists can bring unity to a district that may feel separated by the regular changes occurring in education.

Learn about the LSUS M.Ed. Curriculum and Instruction: Reading & Literacy online program.


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