Ellen Quaid is the Reading Recovery Teacher Leader based in Kilkenny Education Centre.
Kilkenny Education Centre facilitates Reading Recovery in the following counties:
- Kilkenny City and County
What is Reading Recovery?
Reading Recovery (RR) is a school-based intervention designed to reduce literacy problems within an education system. It is an early intervention, giving children who have particular difficulties in reading and writing after their first year in Primary school a period of intensive, individual teaching. The intervention is not solely concerned with improving the reading and writing skills of the lowest achieving children in the age band in the mainstream class (around age six) but also helps them to develop more effective literacy strategies so that they will be able to continue to work at age appropriate levels and to progress satisfactorily in their own school’s instruction programme. A child’s RR series of lessons is finished when he or she is judged to be able to cope well with reading and writing and work successfully at age appropriate levels. The aim is that, with a fully trained RR teacher, this should be achieved within 12-20 weeks. As soon as the child leaves Reading Recovery, another enters and this rolling intervention continues throughout the year. A Reading Recovery teacher in training may succeed in providing RR to at least eight children during the year.
Key Features of the Reading Recovery Programme
- Children entering Reading Recovery are those who have had the most difficulty in reading and writing after one year at school. Reading Recovery is directed at the lowest achieving six year olds (approx.) in the mainstream class, without exception.
- The intervention is different for every child. The starting point is the child’s strengths and the teacher builds upon what the child is able, and trying to do.
- The teaching is individually designed and individually delivered. Each child has an intensive series of 30-minute lessons, daily. The instruction is supplementary to normal class teaching.
- The focus of each lesson is on comprehending messages in reading and constructing messages in writing. In every lesson, children read several small books and write their own stories, learning how to attend to detail without losing focus on meaning.
Training to Become a Reading Recovery Teacher
- For Reading Recovery to be effective with the hardest to teach children, the teacher needs to become a highly skilled decision-maker at every turn of the lesson.
- Training for Reading Recovery is a one-year part-time course, which interweaves theoretical understanding and practical experience.
- During the first year of training, a teacher is required to work with at least four children at any one time on an individual basis, for half an hour every day during which teachers will need to be freed from other responsibilities. Allowing for record keeping, the time commitment to Reading Recovery during the training half a school day every day, of which the majority of the time is spent working in the teachers’ own school, teaching children on an individual basis.
- Following an intensive training in observation and assessment in the first two weeks of the course, the teacher is required to attend in-service sessions for half a day, fortnightly. These are in addition to the daily teaching commitment; there is an expectation that teachers will teach their Reading Recovery pupils prior to attendance at in-service sessions, so that the children’s pattern of daily lessons is not interrupted.
- There are 18 in-service sessions in total and four assessment training sessions. Each session lasts approximately two and a half to three hours.
- In-service sessions include two RR lessons taught behind a one-way screen (installed in Kilkenny Education Centre), which are observed, analysed and discussed by the group training to become RR teachers. Following these lessons a more in-depth discussion takes place. Discussion centres on issues raised following the observed lessons, shared experiences and finally greater theoretical understanding.
- In-service sessions also give practical advice for the implementation of RR in schools, and provide opportunities for teachers to share their individual concerns and experiences.
- Further support, tailored to the particular needs of the individual teacher and school is provided by a minimum of four to six Teacher Leader visits to the teacher’s school during the year of training.
- At the end of the training year the now qualified RR teacher will continue to receive support from the Teacher Leader and will attend at least six ‘Continuing Contact’ sessions during the years to follow while s/he is teaching children in RR.
The Teacher Leader
The Teacher Leader is a highly skilled practitioner of Reading Recovery, an adept facilitator of teachers’ professional development and a proficient administrator of a complex and detailed intervention in an education system. The Teacher Leader’s role is seen as one of support for the teachers in training and their schools.
Benefits for the School and System
Reading Recovery identifies early on the children who are struggling, and those who could possibly slip through the net – the bottom 20%. It reduces the need for extensive learning support over a long-term basis – especially as Reading Recovery becomes a rolling programme. Schools should be prepared to commit to Reading Recovery for at least three years in order to reap the true benefits of the programme. The RR teacher will be a highly skilled practitioner in the area of literacy in the early years. Her/his knowledge will provide insights into curriculum planning in the area of literacy and s/he will be an adept facilitator of strategies and methods for effective literacy teaching. It may lead to identifying gaps in the planning and teaching of the English Language curriculum. It identifies the need (if any) for new reading material within the school to be added and updated regularly. It enables planning and focuses for funding etc. for particular class groups.
Benefits for the Trained Reading Recovery Teacher
Reading Recovery training ensures excellent professional development. The RR teacher will become a highly trained early literacy teacher on the school staff with the ability to train others in the best strategies and methods of teaching for effective literacy skills. S/he will know how to use effective strategies to prevent children from failing. S/he becomes a member of the RR network, which supports and guides for as long as s/he remains teaching RR. When/if s/he returns to mainstream class teaching – the strategies and methods used will guide his/her planning in the implementation of a highly effective literacy programme in the classroom.
Ellen Quaid, Reading Recovery Teacher Leader