How Do You Become a Reading Specialist?

Reading SpecialistIf you are interested in using your teaching skills to lead a school’s literacy program, then you may be the perfect fit to become a reading specialist. In order to help students improve their reading and language abilities for optimal literacy development, reading specialists are often responsible for designing reading programs, working one-on-one with children, serving as a resource to parents, and collaborating with classroom teachers on lesson plans. According to Reading Rockets, since the roles of reading specialists tend to include a great deal of time working with children who have various physical, emotional, intellectual, and learning disabilities, significant teaching experience is needed to provide expert reading instruction. Below is a step-by-step guide on how you can build a successful and rewarding career as a reading specialist.

Earn a Bachelor’s Degree for Teaching Certification

Before being allowed to teach in public schools, you will be required to have at least a bachelor’s degree in an accredited teacher education program. Most aspiring elementary school teachers need a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, whereas middle or high school teachers will choose a subject area specialty like English. Within the teacher education curriculum, students will complete courses that cover topics in classroom management, instructional technology, learning, cognition, human development, and teaching pedagogy. You will also be required to successfully complete a supervised student-teaching internship and pass Praxis test scores to acquire an initial state teaching certificate.

Obtain Teaching Experience

While finishing your bachelor’s degree, you will earn some teaching experience in the form of practicum and student teaching, but it is recommended that you also build your resume with many other work experiences with children as tutors, classroom assistants, or even volunteers. Since there are some states nationwide that require at least two to three years of teaching experience prior to becoming licensed as a reading specialist, you will need to work full-time in a classroom setting after graduation. Not only will this teaching experience provide a vital foundation for pursuing further studies, but it will also enhance your capacity for comprehending teachers’ classroom practices for eventually working as a reading specialist.

Complete a Master’s Degree with Reading Specialist Concentration

In most states, becoming certified as a reading specialist will require going beyond the baccalaureate level to complete a Master of Education (M.Ed.) degree with a specific concentration in reading. These programs offer a focus on teaching reading and creating reading programs for students in grades K-12 as well as adults. In the curriculum, you should expect to take courses for reading assessment, language difficulty detection, teaching strategies, reading materials, content area reading, and a teaching practicum. Upon graduation, you will need to add a reading specialist endorsement to your current teaching license by successfully passing the Praxis reading specialist examination, according to the Educational Testing Services.

Related Resource: Master’s in Educational Leadership

Overall, reading specialists are highly trained and experienced teachers who specialize their expertise in teaching students how to improve reading skills. In particular, reading specialists must have significant understanding of print awareness, word decoding, reading comprehension, spelling, grammar, vocabulary, writing, letter patterns, and language to help non-specialist teachers in providing reading instruction. When you follow these steps to become a reading specialist, you will obtain the systematic approaches that are required to receive state licensure for teaching reading and creating rich literacy-based school environments.