Guest blogger: Elise Ballinger, M.Ed. Reading Specialist, Nativity School
Certified Orton-Gillingham Teacher, IMSLEC-Accredited Mayerson Academy, Orton-Gillingham Multisensory Reading Program
As a reading specialist, I work with struggling readers who have a variety of needs. Some students have dyslexia, some have processing disorders, and some just need a different kind of instruction than they have received in the past. They all share one thing: they must travel a long, bumpy road on the journey to becoming strong readers. As the teacher who shepherds students on this journey, there are times that I find myself feeling discouraged. So, I look for ways to boost my enthusiasm and passion for the important work that I am doing.
I often joke that what fuels me is being able to celebrate small victories. I love hearing when my students are successful on a spelling test, or when they raise their hand in class to explain a rule that I have taught them. These little victories do indeed keep me motivated.
The truth, however, is that there is one significant victory that keeps me passionate about teaching struggling readers. What really keeps me motivated is the moment when students transition from thinking they can’t read to viewing themselves as readers. I know when this transition has happened for a student because the student will inevitably (breathlessly) say to me, “I just checked a book out of the library and I read THREE chapters without stopping!” Or, maybe parents will stop me in the hall and say, “I’m not sure what happened, but last night I couldn’t get my child to stop reading at bedtime!” Regardless of who delivers the message, when I hear one of these statements, I know that my student has turned the corner as a reader! As a teacher, what motivates me and keeps me passionate about teaching is helping students reach this intersection– the intersection between skills and interest– which allows the students to unlock the magic that is inside books.
Each struggling reader might travel a slightly different path to reach this point of falling in love with reading, but there are instructional strategies that I find consistently accelerate the journey. One of these strategies is using the Orton Gillingham approach to teaching phonics. This systematic and explicit approach to teaching phonics provides students with the tools that they need to become skilled readers. And when students no longer struggle to apply basic reading skills, they can turn their attention to the joy of reading! This payoff is what fuels me on the journey, even when the road is long and bumpy.
Mayerson Academy’s Orton-Gillingham Reading Program is now also offered entirely online with the identical content and practice as our face-to-face program, which is accredited by the International Multisensory Structured Language Education Council (IMSLEC) and the International Dyslexia Association (IDA). Register today or contact Sonia Milrod, Mayerson Academy’s literacy professional development specialist, at email@example.com to learn more.
Mayerson Academy’s Orton-Gillingham Program is supported in part through funding from the Smale Family and Charles H. Dater Foundations.