A reading specialist, also known as a reading teacher, is a teacher who has received specialized training in literacy instruction. He or she works with students to assess their reading styles and provide feedback on how they can improve. Although they may work with adults, most reading specialists work with children in secondary schools to help them develop basic reading comprehension skills.
Traditional teachers may lack the advanced knowledge necessary for effectively coaching students with reading difficulties. Reading specialists are educated to identify students’ strengths and weaknesses in reading. The specialists then use their understanding of different learning styles to tailor individual lesson plans to ensure that students comprehend the meaning and context of what they read, rather than just recognizing letters and sounds.
Depending on where you work, you may have different responsibilities. In a school setting, a reading specialist may be required to meet with parents of students to provide suggestions for at-home activities to help with reading skills. He or she can also provide guidance to other teachers on how to deal with students who struggle with reading in their classes.
In a school setting, a reading specialist can also serve as a literacy advocate. He or she could run campaigns to promote the importance of reading holding reading contests with prizes to encourage students to read. Reading specialists can collaborate with school librarians to select student reading materials and information to share with parents and teachers about the importance of reading programs.
Adults who are illiterate or have difficulty reading can seek help from reading specialists. Because children and adults have different learning abilities, a reading specialist working with adults will need to use different teaching techniques. In contrast to a child who attends school full-time, an adult learning to read may only have a few hours a week to spend in a classroom setting, so a reading specialist must tailor lessons to be effective in a shorter amount of time. Adult reading specialists frequently work on a volunteer basis.
Reading specialists have a different type of background education than other types of teachers because they primarily focus on teaching reading skills. Undergraduate courses in education, language arts, foundations of reading, literature, and corrective reading are typically required to become a reading specialist. In most cases, he or she will also need to obtain a reading specialist certification from the state or region in which they work.