Dedicated IMSE instructors who are trained in Orton-Gillingham are among the most passionate literacy experts in the field. Just as IMSE is widely known for the quality of its training, so too are our beloved instructors who represent the best of the best when it comes to increasing literacy in our children. Since 2019, we have seen a marked increase in interest in IMSE’s Instructor program, also referred to as our ‘train the trainer’ program, which is an above-and-beyond career step for qualified educators who want to become an IMSE instructor and travel the country – and the world – as an expert on behalf of literacy education.
During Covid, the U.S. was forced to focus on students’ reading proficiency. The widening gap in student performance data triggered the flow of federal funds, which are now in place to help states and districts respond to our deep-rooted challenges when it comes to literacy. Teachers on the front lines are eager for more information and training, and have shown a strong desire for evidence-based literacy initiatives based on the Science of Reading that will work in their classrooms. With this convergence of focus, investment, and results, my hope is that we’re in the grip of a literacy awakening – one that will change the lives of children giving them the opportunity to be anything they want to be.
In the spring of this year, IMSE will host its next sought-after ‘train the trainer’ program. Soon, my colleague Kim Collins, Director of Academics, and I will begin to look through the resumes of qualified candidates and begin the interview process. As a former master instructor and currently the Director of Instruction here at IMSE, I am aware of the (welcome) demand from educators interested in bringing IMSE’s Orton-Gillingham training to as many colleagues as possible. Below are some insights into the process of becoming an IMSE trainer and why the decision to participate is likely to be one the most rewarding moves of your career.
What qualifications does IMSE look for in a trainer?
IMSE is seeking a diverse group of educators who have a master’s degree in any area of education, such as high school, elementary, administration, OT, SLP, or SPED. Prospective candidates must be certified in IMSE’s Comprehensive course. After certification, candidates must take the KPEERI exam through CERI to become a Structured Literacy Teacher.
By the time our candidates apply to become an IMSE trainer, they are already literacy rockstars! These educators have a master’s degree or doctorate, know how to teach students OG, and are driven to turn this knowledge around to teach all educators. As professionals, they are flexible, engaging, organized, and can present the materials in a concise way.
What does the application process look like?
Once an applicant has met the minimum requirements and submitted a resume, the next step is a series of interviews: first is a one-way interview where an applicant provides answers to a series of questions; and second is a live interview. From there, IMSE determines their final selections to be invited to Train the Trainer.
What does the Train the Trainer program involve?
IMSE is an approved IDA-accredited program, and the process of becoming an Instructor is a graduate-level undertaking. We typically receive two types of applications: those from individuals or those from districts interested in sending a small cohort to become district-level trainers.
The initial step is a five-day commitment centered on collaboration. IMSE gives teachers the opportunity to teach a lesson and reflect on how to handle situations; together, we will review processes and professional standards, and policies. The atmosphere is kind, courteous, and highly participatory; and by the end of the week, many friendships will have formed.
At the conclusion of the week, and once there is an agreement between IMSE and the educator to move forward, subsequent training phases will commence, including:
- An observation period with check-ins, feedback, daily work with a hand-picked, dedicated mentor
- Team Teaching sessions where the teacher teaches the mentor and vice versa
- Observed solo teaching session where the trainee teaches the entire day and the mentor gives feedback and suggestions
No two trainings are exactly alike, and the process generally takes 4-6 months depending on time-off and holidays. The training phases are conducted with a mentor instructor who is an experienced fidelity expert and has been specifically trained to support and mentor trainees throughout the process.
Participants are smart, curious, and come from diverse backgrounds. Our goal is to develop trainers to teach IMSE courses with fidelity to anyone who is in their training. Our mentor instructors are vital to this process; they provide the necessary experience needed to manage trainings, share content knowledge, and collaborate on ways to grow. Deep relationships can grow from this experience.
Do IMSE Trainers Love Their Job More?
Yes – and here’s why: after completing IMSE’s train the trainer, educators feel empowered and supported to teach reading more effectively. There is an enthusiasm that comes from being surrounded by such devoted professionals and it is totally fulfilling to have the expertise and confidence to help others. As one former trainee put it, “After IMSE training, it’s almost like you can see for the first time.”
“You can give 100%, but if you’re doing 100% of the wrong thing, it doesn’t matter.”
IMSE is fully invested in the rigor of its efforts to bring together and continually nurture an elite cohort of trainers that drive immediate and effective literacy results. If you are ready to join IMSE’s mission of bringing Orton-Gillingham to all educators, send your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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About the Author
Laura Sabido, IMSE Director of Instruction, Level 5 Master Instructor
A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, Laura has been in education for twenty-three years: As a classroom teacher, an administrator, an IMSE Orton-Gillingham Level 5 Master Instructor, and is currently The Director of Instruction for IMSE. She is certified through The International Dyslexia Association as a Structured Literacy Dyslexia Specialist and earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Early Childhood Education from The University of Memphis and her M. Ed. Leadership from The University of Dayton.
She has been working for IMSE since 2016, bringing this Structured LiteracyTM approach to school districts across the country. Laura is a passionate educator committed to empowering teachers with the literacy knowledge they need to differentiate instruction to meet the needs of every student they teach in all classroom settings.