California teacher Kathie Marshall is our latest TLN Forum member to be interviewed by TeachersCount, the New York-based organization dedicated to promoting teaching and teachers.

Kathie’s interview, titled “Lessons from a Literacy Coach,” shares insights garnered over six years as a school-based literacy leader in the Los Angeles public schools. Kathie’s focus for most of that time has been adolescent literacy. Here’s a sample from the interview:

When I work one-on-one with some of the most unsuccessful [students], they can always tell me what school year it was that they gave up on school—and themselves. I try to coax them back to believe that with effort they can learn.

What concerns me most about all struggling readers is that we haven’t found all the answers for them or how to avoid those reading “pitfalls”. Struggling readers become apathetic and try to appear invisible in the classroom, or they act out their frustration. Teachers are frustrated, too, and uncertain about how to instruct these kids. So teachers may revert to “dumbing down” the curriculum, or reading aloud to the kids, or simply assigning reading and worksheets rather than truly teaching for understanding.

It’s a very complex issue, in my opinion. Struggling readers do whatever they can to avoid reading when what they really need is to read, read, read. We need to do lots more research on how to engage struggling readers in the reading process, to help them feel initial success again, and develop the belief that they can, in fact, become proficient readers and writers.

You can read previous TeachersCount interviews with members of the Teacher Leaders Network at this archive page. Lots of variety  — lots of reflective thinking.

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