Strategies for helping students with dyslexia?

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by Kenz501, Jan 1, 2017.

  1. Kenz501

    Kenz501 Cohort

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    I'm thinking about eventually getting out of teaching and going into private tutoring. It was suggested to me that I become a dyslexia tutor, but I currently don't know a lot about teaching reading to this group. I was thinking about getting a Barton or Wilson system to help me start, but the Barton system looked pretty expensive and maybe even a bit complicated. I've had some reading instruction training, but I'm not yet trained as a full reading coach. What would you recommend?
     
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  3. Tutor

    Tutor Comrade

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    I work at a small Catholic school and have students with dyslexia. We bought the fist levels of the Barton system. It was not complicated to learn at all. DVD's come with each level that explain exactly how to tutor. I found it to be much more cost effective than Wilson since you have to attend outside training for Wilson.
     
  4. Kenz501

    Kenz501 Cohort

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    Is there a way to get the Barton system cheaper? Each level is about $300. I saw a used kit on Amazon for about a hundred dollars cheaper for level one, but if I purchase levels 1-3, I'm looking at about $800. If I purchase the other levels too, I'm looking at over $2000.
     
  5. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Where I am at, the Orton-Gillingham system is the gold standard, with the Wilson system a close second. You are talking about working with a very special population with high needs. If it is something that you really want to do, study the systems and choose what is most effective for your future clients. Dyslexia is a significant disorder, and students affected with it need well taught and caring instructor to make their lives better. If you really want to do this, choose the best, not the least expensive. Do your homework, study the techniques, and make an informed decision.

    Oh, and by the way, you are not going to leave teaching - you have simply sharpened your focus. Happy New Year!
     
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  6. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Check out SPIRE - you can buy by the level/individual, so only what you need. Wilson doesn't have to come with training last time I checked.

    Biggest thing to understand about dyslexia is that it doesn't refer to a singular difficulty or need. It simply means the student can't read. So, best first step is to do a thorough assessment & find the skill deficits, then remediate accordingly, There isn't a package or system which works equally well with all kids identified as dyslexic.
     
  7. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    I cannot advocate Wilson without all levels of training even going beyond the basic training course. It is designed for dyslexic students, but as EdEd said, not all programs work for all students because the term dyslexia is now a catch all for "reading difficulties".

    My concern, OP, is that you want to teach a very high needs population in terms of reading instruction (and writing and other areas dyslexia impacts) and don't have experience. That means you want to take money from families who already have a lot on their plate when you don't have the experience to back it up and are complaining about the cost of materials to do that job.

    I admire that you want to help them, but I really suggest you do as Vickilynn says and spend a lot of time learning before you take money from families with the hope that your "private tutoring" will be what is needed.

    The cost of the programs can be a write-off for your business. I assume you are doing this legitimately and paying your business and federal taxes. If you have clients other than dyslexic students to start, they can offset the financial burden of the start-up costs of the program.

    I don't know many people who don't have true expertise in a subject area who were successfully able to go from teaching to a full-time private tutoring job. The only person I know who successfully transitioned was an expert in the subject tutored and worth every cent paid to the person. That person's plate was full half way through the summer before tutoring and completely full within a month of school starting.

    Good luck. If you do it the right way by learning what you need to first and tutoring other students to start, you could be highly successful, but it does cost money to start.

    Also, if there is a Scottish Rite center in your area, you may be able to start with them as a volunteer to learn how to remediate dyslexic students. They may help you get trained.
     
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  8. Kenz501

    Kenz501 Cohort

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    I would love formal training and would be willing to pay for it or work as a volunteer if my schedule permits. My only concern with Wilson and Barton would be I would be purchasing a rather costly set of materials without getting a chance to try them out or learn what areas of need they address first. What if I purchase Barton level one and have older students who would do better with Wilson's program, for instance?

    I'm already a legitimate educator and work with all kinds of populations. I started out as a private tutor before I went into teaching, but my clients more or less tipped me if they wanted to; I didn't charge them and did it to gain experience to put on my teacher's resume.

    As for your concerns about me being inexperienced, some forms of experience you can only get by doing the job. I learned how to teach by actually working with students. All of the tips and strategies I learned in college didn't really help me as much as hands-on experience. In fact, I think a lot of teacher preparation programs could greatly enhance their programs by offering more opportunities for hands-on experience. I found that component lacking in the program that trained me.

    Also, of course I don't plan to continue if I indeed find out that I don't know what I'm doing. I've been a very agreeable tutor for my whole career so far, and I even offer a small money-back guarantee if the clients I'm working with aren't satisfied, and if I'm not satisfied with the job, I don't charge for it, unless I'm just working for someone who pays me anyway. It hasn't brought me a lot of money, but hopefully it's built my clients' trust. I plan to take the same approach with the dyslexia tutoring, especially if I can find a place that has a high dyslexic population. I'll probably start off tutoring for free for a few hours one day out of the week in exchange for the right to advertise my private tutoring services. That way, my clients and I will know exactly what kind of service they're paying for, if I can find anything like that. To be honest, I've had a very hard time finding anyone in this area willing to pay for tutoring, maybe because they get it for free, and I don't know how to set my business up to accept federal program money without working directly for a school (and probably being overused and underpaid).

    I know how to tutor, though. In fact, I'm better at tutoring individuals and small groups than I am at teaching a large crowd of kids, for some reason. It's a natural fit for me, and I have some reading instruction training already, as well as certification to teach English and ESL. Honestly, teaching reading doesn't seem like it would be much different than what I do right now. I mean, a refugee whose native language doesn't have an alphabet has to learn reading skills in English mostly like anyone else. We start with the alphabet, move to phonics, and then get into words and sounds. That's reading instruction right there. Of course, sometimes the student needs to have a sufficient English vocabulary before reading instruction really does any good. Some students are taught English without learning reading, and then we go back to the basics, the alphabet and such, when they know enough English to make the task of learning the alphabet less challenging. I mean, I would be okay learning pinyin Chinese, or just drawing and speaking individual words at first, if it would help me clearly speak the language. After I knew enough, I could go back and learn the alphabet and writing systems and such. Phonics instruction doesn't really do a lot of good if the student isn't familiar with those sounds in his or her original language. Sometimes, it's good to get them used to the language and the way it sounds first.

    I would imagine that non-readers who are English natives have an advantage, because they're already familiar with how words sound and how to make those sounds. That's half of the battle right there. Take the "l" and "r" for instance. In some languages, there's no difference, so it's very hard for certain speakers to tell the difference between "glass" and "grass" for instance. Native English speakers don't have that issue, so shouldn't teaching them those letter sounds be easier?
     
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  9. It'smycalling

    It'smycalling New Member

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    Over the summer I was sent to a Wired for Reading training. I have to say with the research that is associated with this program and how it is taught to the student, it has been very successful with my kids! The training is a bit spendy but you keep everything and you will use it over and over again with the kids. It's very interactive and there are lots of games associated with it in which my kids have really grasped the concepts which have helped them tremendously at all levels of reading.
     
  10. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Just a little curious about your ESL credentials. Did you obtain that credential through a Master's program?
     
  11. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    OP, I wanted to send you a PM with a link. Not sure why I can't.
     
  12. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Kenz501 is does sound like you're quite dedicated and wanting to do things the right way. I do agree that on the job training is good, but as someone who has graduate level work with reading intervention, I can definitely say that there's something you gain from formal training, and I wouldn't personally offer intervention services without some form of training.

    The analogy would be a doctor shopping around for a particular medical device or procedure. If you went to see a specialist, you'd probably expect that doctor to not only have a good tool/strategy, but an MD and formal training in the specialty area. Similarly, in your case, if I were a parent shopping around for intervention professionals with dyslexia, I'd want someone with the right tools/strategies, teacher training, and formal training in the content area (e.g., SPED, reading intervention).

    That being said, I definitely think "lay" folks can make a difference in that sometimes kids just need more opportunities to practice 1:1 or in a smaller group. So, not saying you couldn't do some good stuff, I'd just be clear about what you're offering. And, if you really are wanting to provide the absolute best for the kids you work with, I'd suggest some graduate training/classes first - then you'd have a broader knowledge base from which to pull intervention packages.
     
  13. Kenz501

    Kenz501 Cohort

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    `
    Yes, I did. I've also had some reading instructor training, but not enough to be a full reading instructor.
     
  14. Kenz501

    Kenz501 Cohort

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    Like I said, if I don't think I can genuinely help my clients, I do not want to offer them an inferior service. It would not be to my advantage to falsely advertise, because concerned parents have done their research. If I can't prove that I'm a resource, I don't want to take their business.
     
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  15. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    I've been considering something similar for my future. Because my school sent me to a Wilson training last year, it's the program I've been focusing on. I've done a lot of research into it, but I haven't started because of the time commitment for the training, as well as the cost. You do, in fact, have to receive their training in order to be considered a certified Wilson tutor. You can order the materials without the training, but you cannot market yourself as a certified Wilson tutor unless you've gone through all of the training. It's roughly $2500 to get started with the materials, training, and coursework. You have to tutor a student who meets defined criteria for several lessons (roughly a year) and have your tutoring supervised by a trainer. You must take online courses and/or attend in-person workshops. Basically, you either jump all in, or you don't do it. It's not the type of thing you can go halfway on. My intention is to invest the time and money, knowing that, eventually, I'll make the money back when I start my business. For now, it's mainly the time that is holding me up, but I'd like to do it soon.

    I don't know much about Barton or OG. I have used SPIRE and like it. It has significantly less training associated with it, and the training is optional. So, your costs are going to be much lower. However, it's not as highly sought after by parents looking to pay a tutor. You might also look into Lindamood Bell programs. They offer similar programs and training. My goal for my future business is to be trained in a multitude of programs so that I can offer the right program for the individual child.
     
  16. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    OP, not sure where you are, but I have a sneaking suspicion that you will need the credentials that the state requires to be able to advertise that you are qualified to tutor those subjects. I know that I have tutored here in NJ, but only those subjects that I am state qualified to teach. I know that there is a great need for reading specialists, and that the coursework to earn the credential is lengthy, but there are so many aspects to helping someone with reading deficits that the coursework is necessary, not just being picky. I teach Special Ed., ESL, and a full plate of science, ELA, and SS at varied grade levels, but I wouldn't want to try and help students who truly need a reading specialist without significantly more training myself. These students need to be evaluated and set up in the right program from the get-go. They already know what it feels like to fail. This would not be a population that I would want to approach with trial and error help.

    I don't know where you are located or what the state BOE would have to say about what credentials you would need to offer services as a reading specialist. I know that the right program can help students to the point where they may not need to be classified, but dyslexia is a life-long diagnosis. You don't cure it - you continue to provide support and skill sets that make progress possible. The instructor I had in a summer grad class is trained in Wilson, and it is a formidable, but worthy, investment in time and money. She is part of the Child Study Team and I found her to be quite amazing.

    I believe that some teachers shine working one to one, while others are at their best in front of a large classroom. My suggestion is that you should complete the requirements to obtain your reading specialist certification from the state you are in. It will go a long way in providing needed services for a specific population, and you will have all of the tools in the tool-set to be successful. I am certain that you want to be able to succeed in this venture, and the students you are targeting need skillful teachers to help them catch up and become proficient readers. I think that if you become well trained in this field and state credentialed, you will have all of the business one could hope for. There is a need for superior reading specialists.
     
  17. Kenz501

    Kenz501 Cohort

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    I don't know what it is about teachers in this area, but most don't hire them when they're looking for help for their children. I don't know if it's because the teachers themselves are too busy or what the issue is, but it seems like, except for a select few, people are less likely to hire teachers as tutors without outside training, even if they have all of the credentials. That's another reason why outside training looked appealing to me. It seems like a prepackaged curriculum would make me seem more trustworthy.

    I'll look into finishing my reading instructor training and officially adding it to my credentials, but, from what I've seen, these pieces of paper aren't as beneficial as actually working with the kids and figuring things out in real time. Please realize that I've had quite a bit of training already. It's just that theory without practice makes little sense to me, and I don't feel like I've benefited enough from it. I mean, I learned how to teach ESL students by actually doing it. I had an instructor's book full of pre-planned lessons, and I went through those lessons with the students until I was comfortable making my own lessons without the instructor's manual. Everything I learned in college was great, but I would have been more or less lost if I would have had to rely on just it to teach my students. Prepackaged resources do wonders. In fact, I think they are better than actual certification for beginners.
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2017
  18. Kenz501

    Kenz501 Cohort

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    Yeah, it would only be a little more than the cost of those training programs for me to go back to get my full reading specialist certification, so maybe I'll go that route, if you think it would be more effective, but experience tells me that Education courses are often very broad and focus more on theories than best practice. I really think I would benefit more from buying a system and just trying it out, offering free tutoring at first and then offering paid services once I honed my skills.
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2017
  19. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    I think you'd be far better off getting a Wilson or Orton Gillingham certification than going through a college reading specialist program. IMO, my undergrad classes were beneficial because they had us out in real classrooms doing field work constantly. The actual content of what we learned on lecture days wasn't that beneficial, and obviously field work isn't necessary for someone who is already teaching. The stuff I learned with my MA was similar to what I've gotten in PD and the great majority of it wasn't new information (adding an advanced degree is currently the only way to get a pay raise in my district due to freezes, so that's why I did it).

    Perhaps this is different in other states and I'm sure there are better programs out there, but around here a "reading specialist" usually works as a title 1 intervention teacher and is considered far less "specialized" than a SPED teacher. Kids generally go through title 1 first and if they're not making progress with that, then they get referred to me in SPED. The interventions our reading specialist/title teachers are providing are far more general and more aligned with general ed instruction; they're not designed to help students with dyslexia. I think training in a specific program (and yes, you definitely need the training rather than just buying something) would be much more effective and you'd get more "name recognition" saying you're a Wilson or Orton Gillingham tutor as far as recruiting new students goes.

    As far as cost, maybe it's different in your area but in mine reading certifications are typically at least 20 credit hours, which is far more expensive than the $2500 Bella mentioned for Wilson certification. I personally wouldn't recommend a college SPED certification program either. Again, I'm sure there are better programs somewhere out there but since "full inclusion" is the fad now my SPED courses were all about co-teaching and accommodations/modifications rather than about how to actually do interventions. Pretty much everyone my age (in college a bit more recently) around here had the same experience, and I'm currently working in a different state than I went to college in. I would love to get Wilson certified myself, but I'm just not willing to shell out that much of my own money and I can't get my admin on board to shell it out for me either.
     
  20. Kenz501

    Kenz501 Cohort

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    I may have access to grant money for my classroom from my school, so maybe that could help offset the cost if I decide to get Wilson certified.

    I think I've already completed a lot of the required course material and only need a few courses to satisfy the certification requirement. If I bought the training and materials for both Wilson and Barton (or some other effective program) I would be looking at just a little less than what it would cost to get the remaining reading specialist credits. Still, though, I think I would get more out of just buying a specialized program and either finding a coach or paying for training than I would getting a reading specialist certification. I'm learning that "best practice" taught in college is often not in the best interest of students, as it's too general to be of use on its own.

    I'm learning the hard way that colleges are all about making money. If that isn't the case, why didn't they offer me courses that actually meant something instead of making me wade through all of this fluff? Really, they could have offered me a program that had the core requirements for SPED, ESL teaching, and Reading instruction--you know, the kind of skills schools are actually looking for. Instead, though, they decided to make those separate concentrations and fill the curriculum with useless fad theory fluff. I feel cheated.
     
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  21. Kenz501

    Kenz501 Cohort

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    Here's what they could have offered me:

    Year 1: Core knowledge, breaking down the standards, and effective lesson planning
    Year 2: ESL and foreign language certification with two months overseas teaching internship
    Year 3: SPED training with concentration in reading disabilities with 200 logged tutoring hours
    Year 4: General classroom management and internship
    Year 5: SPED training with concentration in opposition disorders with clinical internship
    Year 6: Student teaching internship in an inclusion classroom

    The wide availability of quick training programs lets me know that the colleges could have done a lot more with our time, money, and resources. Instead, though, they gave us fluff. I could probably count the useful courses I've taken as a graduate and undergraduate on one hand. Sorry if that seems off topic, but I really do feel cheated. It's sad that private companies can offer a more thorough training experience than colleges can; they should be ashamed of themselves. Students could be getting quality skills via recognized TEFL and reading certification and experience working with real students. Instead, though, they get feel good fluff. Oh, how I wish I had the money and expertise to open up a teacher training college. I could incorporate all of the training I never got in school. Teaching should NOT be trial and error when there are proven effective methods out there.

    I would really like to start a school that supplements young teachers' training. I bet this is doable, and part of me doesn't want to sit around and mull over the fact that I might not be perfectly qualified yet. I want to start doing something today. Of course, since I don't know where or how to get started, I'll probably just sit around and wait. I probably need some extra bit of training or another master's degree, a certification in instructional design, perhaps? Maybe I'm just lacking in entrepreneurial spirit.

    Anyway, though, I think I'm going to look for Wilson training and maybe buy the kit and look over the materials and instructor's manual. While we're at it, does anyone know where I can find specific training for other high needs groups? I'm greedy; I want all of the training I can possibly get to help as many kids and adults as possible. I want to give people what I never had.
     
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  22. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Think about this. A child goes to school every school day for years and still continues to struggle. Many conversations are teachers telling parents they can do all they can do. Sometimes the conversations are not really productive and/or fruitful nor are parents in some areas offered anything substantial by the school. When a parent actually wants to look for a tutor, why would they want to consider a profession that just told them they are doing everything they know to do?

    When schools take the direction that they are providing everything they have and a child still isn't being successful who in their right mind would want to pay someone money above and beyond and take the extra time using people who have just admitted in a round about way that they are out of ideas?

    Then there is the other aspect of schools choosing not to provide special programs even with special education students. Why would a parent want to pay someone who is not trained in a special program designed for a dyslexic when what is being provided is not really working by teachers already?
     
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  23. Kenz501

    Kenz501 Cohort

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    That's why I wonder why they train teachers the way they do. I wish I would have gotten more specialized training, and now I'm having to make up the difference myself.
     
  24. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Alright, seriously - you're on to something with the non-college version of professional training. I'm going to stick to my guns and say that an in-depth, theoretical AND applied training program is essential for doing really good reading intervention. But, I'm totally with you on the fact that not every training program out there gives you that. AND, I'm with you that such a program could exist as an intensive, community-based "in-service" training model. In short, you've got to find it somewhere. You can't just say that it doesn't exist, because it does.

    So, your idea of the community-based teacher training program is awesome, BUT......you need to find it somewhere before you're going to do it yourself. Sure, I think - as someone with professional teaching experience - you could get Wilson training and become great at that particular package. However, what happens when you (no doubt) encounter kids with whom Wilson doesn't work. How do you go in to the root level of Wilson and tweak it? How do you supplement it with another intervention, or recommend a different one? I've raised the stakes with you now because you've got some great ideas and are clearly thinking on a higher level. It seems like, for you, just being good at one intervention won't be enough.

    I'll give you another parallel with myself: I'm a school psychologist by training, and honestly it would be silly of me to offer professional behavioral or academic support without my graduate training, just with experience with one intervention program - say PBIS or Wilson. The reason is that kids are complex systems with a lot of moving parts - we've got to have a broad knowledge base of many of those kinds of systems, along with relevant interventions & packages, in order to really provide help. I'm constantly rearranging intervention components, splicing intervention packages, titrating up or down various types of interventions, re-assessing the situation, etc.

    When I'm doing reading intervention, for example, I pull from my training & experience with neuropsychology, cognitive psychology, reading assessment, psychoeducational evaluation, general academic intervention, learning theory, etc. - all of which were covered in graduate training. I can't possibly imagine telling a parent I'd be able to help without this foundation.

    Now....that being said, sure - I've learned so, so much from experience and on-the-job training. Just as it would be silly and naive to exclaim professional readiness to help a child with extreme reading problems without my theoretical/graduate background, it would similarly be silly for me to open a private intervention business only having a degree.

    So.....to bring this back to scope: If you're just going to open up shop in your living room and say "I'm an OG or Wilson tutor" and let parents self-select that intervention route, fine. Yes, buy the training, and do some free intervention at first to get a few notches under your belt. But, if you're going to open up shop as an intervention business (broadly defined) for kids with dyslexia - I think you'd come up short.
     
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  25. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Totally. I taught several classes in a teacher ed program, and was really disappointed by the quality of the program and students coming into my classes. But, the presence of bad programs doesn't mean there aren't good ones.
     
  26. Kenz501

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    I agree. I only want to do what I can get results with. Theory is just confusing to me, though, probably because I learned the little bit I know without putting practice behind it. I would have to get better at diagnostics, and I would really have to learn my trade. I agree that having a degree helps you back up your claims, but, for me, theory and application are separate when taught that way, and I actually learn theory better through application.

    My idea comes from honest frustration I experienced with the teacher preparation program I used. Sometimes connections have to be explicitly pointed out to me. I'm sure I'm not the only one.
     
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  27. Kenz501

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    I wonder what it feels like to be able to learn advanced educational theories AND apply what you're learning. It must be a wonderful feeling. I wonder why all colleges don't provide that luxury.
     
  28. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Definitely agreed about the integration - best way to do it. I'd also say that "advanced training" - be that in a graduate classroom, in-service training, or some community program - is more than just theory, but a broad base of best practices, expert advice about how to do things, opportunity to practice with close feedback, etc. Again, I can't speak for all programs everywhere, but I'd strongly disagree that graduate/undergraduate training - as a default - has to be inapplicable and unhelpful.

    To make sense out of the differences we may have experienced, I'd also say there's a difference between very general theory such as what you may take in an undergrad cognitive psych class, versus specific theories related to reading intervention. I'd also say that theory can be highly abstract, or include a lot of specific research about how things actually work.

    Theory - the specific kind that's connected by research & informed by practice - is what lets us move beyond the intervention and not be a slave to the script. If we don't know the theoretical & research backgrounds in which we're operating, we really have no professional freedom because we're at the mercy of what someone else told us would work. We'll never know everything, but the more we know the more (helpful) decisions we can make.
     
  29. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Jan 3, 2017

    If you had to ask me to name the number 1 problem in public education - in terms of what "we" could fix - I'd say the quality of pre-service training.
     
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  30. Kenz501

    Kenz501 Cohort

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    Jan 3, 2017

    I agree, but I really do not think very many of my teacher education classes were like this. One or two taught me a lot, but most of them were just either filling my mind with ideas and not giving me enough time to practice and become familiar with them, or they wasted my time restating things I had already covered in my previous classes. Honestly, I think I could have learned most of what I did in my graduate and undergraduate classes by searching Education articles on the internet! I don't know how colleges get away with this sort of thing.
     
  31. Kenz501

    Kenz501 Cohort

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    Jan 5, 2017

    Well, so far the only step I've taken toward this goal was asking about signing up as a volunteer reading tutor for another literacy program in the area. Hopefully they can train me and give me a better idea of what I should do.
     

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