Most recently in my professional career, I have taught at the high school level for nine years as an ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) Reading teacher in Dekalb County Schools in Atlanta, GA. I worked primarily on developing vocabulary, comprehension, and basic writing skills. My experience has shown me how important it is that students respect their teacher and want to learn. When those attributes are in place, I feel as though I do well as a teacher.
I have also worked on the elementary level. I've been a general classroom teacher for fourteen years, a Reading Teacher for over three years. The natural joy, curiosity, and motivation of elementary students are a teacher's dream.
Lastly, I have also worked at the community college level helping students pass specific reading skills exams. I've seen the consequences of students who did not, for whatever reasons and many of those reasons would probably have evoked my compassion, take greater responsibility for their learning.
My perspective about reading skill is that it oftentimes reflects a lack of knowledge, understanding and sensitivity to our present culture(s). It has everything to do with what is familiar or extremely unfamiliar to a student. I believe in reading what a student can relate to and using that to develop critical thinking, speaking and writing skills. Through those types of interactions, specific needs surface: addressing and resolving them is what initiates and sustains the transformation into becoming a skilled reader.
To conclude, I am a great believer in beginning one's learning from a place of strength. What interests a student and how a student specifically needs to learn allows the student to experience some self-confidence in facing areas that can be challenging and stressful to some degree.
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