I came into the teaching profession aware that my White middle class experience would impact how I taught. I earned my teaching credential and masters degree from a program focused on social justice. There, I’d read and discussed books such as Teaching Other People's Children and Bad Boys: Public Schools in the Making of Black Masculinity, so I understood, in theory, the...
June 16, 2020
May 29, 2020
NOTE: Heartfelt thanks to Dr. Maryanne Wolf for adding her thoughts this piece.More the same than different
Many of us assume that, because each child is a unique human being, every child learns to read in a different way. This widespread misconception causes unnecessary difficulty...
January 27, 2020
Before I answer, let me ask one: What keeps Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, up at night?
You know Amazon, the trillion-dollar corporation that delivers something like a 5 billion packages a year.
I’m at a professional meeting. The chair asks what “levers” we have for improving reading achievement in the U.S.
It’s an easy question. There are...
December 18, 2019
Planning with the creative and hard-working teachers on my fourth-grade team was rewarding (and occasionally hilarious), but our enthusiasm sometimes produced overly-complicated plans. If a plan was becoming unwieldy, one of us would interrupt the process and say to the team:
If it’s this complicated, it’s probably not right.
We’d then pause, rearticulate our goals,...
October 21, 2019
There’s new momentum behind teaching reading more directly and explicitly, but many of us are wondering: is this just another swing of a pendulum? It’s hard to believe that investing in new reading practices is worthwhile if the new practices will fall out of favor in a few years. But for district leaders who want to make a lasting impact, there is no better focus than reading...
October 7, 2019
What does it mean that something has research support? I’ve been a teacher for years and I’ve taught hundreds of children to read. Now I’m being told that in our district we are expected to teach in some new way that has research behind it. I like how I teach reading and I don’t want to change. Why should I?
September 11, 2019
Teacher guilt is a compelling topic. Of all things the ideas captured in Emily Hanford’s At a Loss for Words, the recording of me talking about my guilt has become one of the more popular snippets. Yes, I said this:
It was clear to Goldberg...
August 10, 2019
Teacher (in a panic): “It can’t be wrong.”
Me (softly): “Why not?”
Teacher: “Because if it’s wrong and I’ve been doing it for years, then what does that mean for the kids?”
Me: “I know, but another teacher said to me, ‘What about the kids we haven’t had yet?’”
August 4, 2019
First, a little context:
I am a white literacy coach in a large urban district where half the teachers are of color. When I began my job, I believed that my focus on evidence-based reading instruction, good intentions and belief that all students can learn would make me well-equipped to bring research to our diverse staff. How naive I was!
Entering this work, I was blind to...
July 19, 2019
I understand why advocates, researchers, and policymakers who feel the urgency of our literacy crisis are frustrated when teachers don’t embrace reading science. But my entry into the world of reading research was difficult, and while I take pride in my determination to learn, I understand why other teachers might be deterred. If we want teachers to apply research, it may be helpful to think...
June 11, 2019
Recently, the PBS News Hour aired a report about the parents of children who suffer from dyslexia. Their kids weren’t being taught phonics and weren’t learning to read. When phonics instruction was provided, they did better, and so the moms were pressuring their state to ensure other kids wouldn’t face the same neglect. It was a classic story of public institutions (in this case schools) not...
May 29, 2019
Teacher question: I keep hearing that teachers don’t know the science of reading. But all the teachers that I talk to say that they teach phonics. What’s really going on?
I suspect that both the critics and the teachers are telling you the truth.
Unfortunately, we don’t have a national education inspectorate...
July 19, 2018
Back in the 1930s, Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney always seemed to be putting on a show. They were going to be sent to a farm to work for the summer in Babes in Arms, but they wanted to go to Broadway instead — and they did!
I love that whole idea of Judy and Mickey with their...
April 30, 2018
April 23, 2018
April 2, 2018
June 15, 2016
Our reading coach has encouraged all of our teachers to use a lot of the “think-pair-share” reading strategy. I’m an upper elementary grade teacher. Is “think-pair-share” research based?Shanahan responds:
This seems like such a straightforward question, but it has been tying me in knots for days. It all depends on what you mean by “research based.”...
May 24, 2016
March 2, 2016
"I don't think there's a child out there who doesn't want to learn and be the best they can be."
Those are the words of Barbara Preuss, a veteran educator with more than 30 years of experience.
That is to say, she is no bright-eyed novice about to be confronted by reality. She is confronted by plenty of reality, every day. And yet she retains her belief that even the kids who...
February 29, 2016
I was making a presentation about how to raise reading achievement. I was taking my audience through research on what needed to be taught and how it needed to be taught if kids were to do as well as possible. I was telling about my experiences as director of reading of the Chicago Public Schools at a time when my teachers raised reading achievement.
When I finished, a teacher approached...