Right after high school, I found myself sitting in a classroom taking classes to be a teacher rather than fulfilling my plans of becoming an accountant. This was not anything I had planned. But a long story short, I graduated with a teaching degree from Bluefield College, Bluefield, VA. I have taught for 20 years in a variety of settings including homeschooling, regular education, and currently special education.
When I began teaching, I taught as an elementary substitute teacher for a few years. Then I came home, and taught my children for seven years until they graduated from high school. During my children’s college years, I returned to teaching. At that time I had the opportunity to return to college and earn my master’s degree in special education from Marshall University, Huntington, WV.
Now I teach struggling Kindergarten – Grade 3 students reading and math at a charter school in Durham, North Carolina. The best thing I love about teaching is teaching reading! When students first come to me, they think that reading is a “guessing game.” Usually, guessing is the best strategy students have in their toolbox, and they are hoping to become better guessers. Also, they think reading is so hard, and I let them know that it is really easy, and they will be reading by the end of the year.
So the first thing I do with my “little ones” is assess their current skills, discover the gaps in their foundation [which are there for various reasons], and then we get to work. The least likely reason for learning gaps is not that students are not sharp enough to learn to read. They are very sharp! They just need someone to put some ‘handy-dandy’ tools in their reading toolbox. And that’s exactly what I do.
This is the simple process I follow in a small group setting. First, students begin to identify all the letters and their corresponding sounds. Second, they learn to write both uppercase/lowercase letters. Third, they learn to blend letters in the order they appear. Also, I hold students very accountable to reading the print as it actually appears on the page. And I make reading fun by playing games to break the “reading codes.” Then typically, after about six months, students are reading. And my heart is warmed once more.
As you browse my site, you will find that a lot of my products focus on reading syllable types. So if you are not for sure what syllable type to teach first, Closed Syllables is a good starting point for beginning readers. Closed Syllables make up approximately 50% of the English language. Once students master Closed Syllable, they have a great foundation upon which to begin reading.