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Dr. Joanne Meier

Along with her background as a professor, researcher, writer, and teacher, Joanne Meier is a mom. Join Joanne every week as she shares her experiences raising her own young readers, and guides parents and teachers on the best practices in reading.

Stand up tall, wave your arms, find some help

February 20, 2007

If you've been reading the comments on some of my other posts, you might have seen first-year teacher Sarah's comment sharing her confusion "about the direction I want/need to go with reading instruction." Sarah put a voice to the feelings of so many first-year teachers when she wrote "with so little experience, it is hard for me to sort through everything I hear from the experts on both sides."

I hope Sarah and other first-year teachers are reading this blog, so that they can read this: THANKS for becoming a teacher, and for caring enough about your students to be online looking for help.

Teaching is hard work, and a classroom can be a lonely place, especially when you know things aren't going well. All teachers (present and former) understand this. It's totally okay to need some help. Reading researchers have been writing about the challenges for a long time. Fortunately, there are resources that can help you. This is exactly why projects like Reading Rockets exist. More than ever before, there are ways to connect with others to become a better teacher. Some first-year teachers blog about their ups and downs. Wendy's comments offer the perspective of someone who provides professional development to inservice teachers.

Though we can't clear up all confusion about teaching in a blog entry (or any other single piece), let me just start by saying: Stand up tall, wave your arms, and find some help. Start with your grade-level team leader, or a colleague you've gotten to know this year. Then, talk with your school's reading specialist and special education teacher. Other good resources are your new teacher mentor (if you have one), the assistant principal, or the principal. Just start about what's easy, what's confusing, what you're doing that works, and what you're trying to do that isn't working. I think you'll be relieved to know that (1) you're not alone, (2) help is out there, and (3) teaching reading is something that we know how to do. I'll do what I can through this blog to share good resources.

Next time: Finding Some Help Part 2
Keep your eye on the prize, aka fluent readers who understand what they read.

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"Wear the old coat and buy the new book." — Austin Phelps