As a first grade teacher for many years and also a reading intervention teacher, I fully understand the importance of becoming an effective support teacher.
Many times children enter school with a great knowledge base for reading. At the same time we also see children who are very deficient in reading skills and concepts. Tackling this problem early in life is the key and many times it requires the assistance of other reading professionals within the school setting to ensure they make the strides necessary to excel in reading.
The first step in becoming an effective reading intervention support teacher is collaboration. The classroom teacher and the reading support teacher must have a clear path of communication to aide in diagnosing reading deficiencies and implement strategies to adequately attack the problem.
It is essential for support teachers to analyze reading test data for a specific target group of children to fully understand what areas of reading need extra assistance. Once the collaborative team has identified areas of weakness, they are well on their way to constructing a reading program for each individual child.
The support teacher should complete several classroom observations on each student that the classroom teacher feels is struggling in reading. In this observation setting the reading professional can identify areas of weakness. This along with teacher input and test data, the support professional has a clear cut scope of the intervention need.
A very valid concern of any reading support professional is selecting a proven program to help with instruction. There are boatloads of programs, but how effective are they for teaching the skills of each individual child? All those involved should sit down and take a good look at the individual student and their specific needs before ever selecting an intervention program.
Reading support teachers must be flexible. They have to be excellent managers of their time, since in many cases they have to schedule small groups and stay within the classroom teacher’s daily schedule.
To better help children become good readers; educators must take adequate steps to ensure the best possible help is available for students. This requires all professionals involved with reading programs to communicate openly and often.
Working collaboratively, communicating, analyzing data, selecting researched based programs, flexibility, and a clear cut vision will enhance teacher effectiveness and diminish the hurdles facing the struggling reader.