At IMSE, we are on a mission to revolutionize reading instruction for all students. 

As teachers gear up for the new school year, the strategic moves administrators can make to drive positive changes in student literacy across their districts have been a hot topic at IMSE. From setting clear expectations for curriculum and materials to creating dedicated literacy blocks and providing comprehensive teacher training, district leaders can provide the tools and processes to unlock the true potential of every young learner. 

Collaborate with Teachers and Parents

Successful collaboration methods that foster partnerships between teachers, administrators, and parents to support reading gains have been honed through experience and continuous improvement. One effective approach is the establishment of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), which have proven fruitful when given the necessary allocated time and resources for success. 

Teachers benefit from a solution-focused protocol that guides them in addressing students’ needs by incorporating data analysis, goal-setting, and defined actions for each team member to achieve those goals. Administrators play a pivotal role in this process by occasionally attending each team’s PLC meetings and reviewing the PLC notes. This involvement allows administrators to support teachers and students in reaching their established objectives. 

Moreover, fostering collaboration with parents is vital. This can be achieved through effective communication and active engagement with the school community. Keeping parents informed about the curriculum, academic expectations, and student performance while encouraging their involvement and support establishes a culture of collaboration. This transparent and inclusive approach not only boosts parental engagement but also enhances their comfort level with participation in school activities, creating a harmonious and supportive educational ecosystem where everyone feels valued and encouraged to contribute to the reading gains of young learners.

Support Effective Reading Instruction in the Classroom

Administrators play a crucial role in supporting and encouraging teachers to implement effective reading instruction in the classroom. Administrators foster consistency across their schools by establishing clear expectations for the curriculum and materials that should be used. Additionally, they can create a well-structured building schedule that prioritizes an uninterrupted 90-120 minute literacy block, allowing teachers to dedicate ample time to reading instruction. This means ensuring that important events like fire drills are thoughtfully scheduled to avoid disrupting crucial reading instruction time, thereby reinforcing the value placed on literacy development. 

To further empower educators, administrators can allocate district and building funds to provide comprehensive teacher training, such as IMSE’s Comprehensive Orton-Gillingham Plus program, ensuring that teachers are equipped with the necessary tools and methodologies for not only Tier 1 instruction, but also for Tiers 2 and 3. For students needing additional support, teachers can utilize the same methodology, but offer repeated exposure and more opportunities for struggling students to practice the skills being taught. This ensures all students receive the systematic targeted instruction and resources they need to thrive in their reading journey. 

Create a Positive and Supportive Environment

Creating a positive and supportive environment that prioritizes reading and literacy across all grade levels is paramount for administrators. Administrators can foster a culture of data-driven instruction by implementing data walls and data celebrations, encouraging teachers to regularly assess and celebrate their students’ progress. To show unwavering support, administrators must ensure that teachers have the necessary knowledge, training, and resources to effectively teach literacy to all students. If available, instructional coaches can play a pivotal role in this process, offering valuable feedback and continuous learning opportunities to empower teachers and elevate their instructional practices. 

Overcome the Challenges and Barriers

When administrators set out to implement initiatives aimed at improving reading gains, they may encounter various challenges and barriers. One potential hurdle lies in teachers’ diverse backgrounds and experiences with different reading methodologies, which could impede the seamless adoption of new approaches. 

To overcome this obstacle, administrators can prioritize providing their teachers with effective and comprehensive professional learning opportunities centered around the Science of Reading and Structured Literacy. Addressing the fact that many college teacher preparation programs may not adequately equip educators in this area, administrators can bridge the gap by offering training that delves into the five pillars of reading instruction: phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. This training should extend beyond mere reading materials; instead, it should offer a solid foundational understanding of the Science of Reading, equipping teachers with the necessary resources and strategies to implement immediately within their classrooms. 

By implementing these strategies and proactively addressing challenges through robust and focused professional development, administrators can empower their teachers to tackle reading instruction with confidence and cultivate a thriving educational environment that emphasizes the significance of literacy, ultimately leading to improved reading outcomes for all students.

Please connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest to get tips and tricks from your peers and us. Read the IMSE Journal to hear success stories from other schools and districts, and be sure to check out our digital resources for refreshers and tips.