Literacy specialists, also known as reading specialists, provide a valuable service to beginning and emerging readers. These teachers are specially trained in methods that help children improve their reading skills. Literacy specialists work closely with classroom teachers to design reading programs and provide resources, and identify students in need of extra help.
Education and Licensure
A bachelor’s or master’s degree in education or reading and literacy is required for employment as a literacy specialist. If your degree is in elementary or secondary education, you might need to complete additional coursework in a reading specialist certificate program to obtain a position as a literacy specialist. Reading specialists must have general teaching licenses and must be certified to teach reading and literacy. Each state sets it own standards regarding certification in reading and literacy. A comprehensive certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards can be helpful in advancing your career, although you must have three years of teaching experience before you can apply for this certification.
A literacy specialist must be able to establish a rapport with students of various backgrounds and age levels. The ability to establish good working relationships with other adults is particularly important, as specialists communicate with teachers, members of the school’s administration and parents. Specialists understand how students of all ages learn and can adapt teaching strategies to meet the needs of individual students. Literacy specialists may work with a large numbers of students, depending on the school, and must be able to multi-task and handle conflicting priorities.
Literacy specialists determine the skill level of students by conducting and reviewing reading tests. They develop reading plans and strategies based on the results of those tests and continually evaluate students, making changes to the plan if a student continues to struggle. Specialists prepare lesson plans and teach students in a one-on-one or group setting. Teaching might take place in a regular classroom or in a pull-out session elsewhere. Literacy specialists provide advice to parents and teachers regarding ways to support children who struggle to read. They also might serve as coordinators of special reading initiatives, campaigns and programs for the entire school.
Literacy specialists who want a more supervisory role can apply for jobs in school districts that employ literacy coaches. Some districts employ coaches to help classroom teachers improve their teaching skills in reading. Literacy coaches no longer work directly with students, but mentor and coach teachers and offer strategies and advice. Positions also are available at tutoring centers for specialists who want to explore opportunities outside the classroom. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that instructional coordinators, such as literacy specialists, can expect to earn a median salary of $60,050 a year. Employment is expected to increase by 13 percent from 2012 to 2022.
- allEducationSchools: Become a Reading Teacher or Reading Specialist
- National Board for Professional Teaching Standards: Literacy: Reading -- Language Arts Standards
- SEDL: Literacy Coaches Roles and Responsibilities
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Instructional Coordinators
- Education Portal: How to Become a Reading Specialist: Education and Career Roadmap
- Photo Credit monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images
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