Guest blog by Stacey Kasoff, Learning Ally’s June 2017 Tutor of the Month
My educational career began as a first-grade classroom teacher. It was about a month into my first year as a teacher that I realized my “real” job was to teach my class of students how to read. And so it began …my journey into becoming a reading specialist.
I started working on my Masters as a Reading Specialist and eventually moved into the role of Reading Specialist and Instructional Coach. I had the opportunity to model lessons for teachers, to mentor teachers, facilitate collaborative learning teams and to work with students on reading in small groups.
Even though I felt I had helped so many students learn to read over the years, I realized that my ways were not working for every child. There seemed to be a handful of students that still were not progressing in reading, and I knew something was missing.
This is what led me to The Institute for Multi-Sensory Education’s Orton-Gillingham. I received my training and certification through the IMSE’s Orton-Gillingham program. I began tutoring students and seeing great progress with adding this new tool to my reading teacher bag of tricks. I also realized that I could have an even bigger impact if I became an IMSE OG instructor. I now am able to enjoy the benefits of two different paths to help struggling readers; I am able to directly work with students AND teach other teachers how to help their students in the classroom.
I enjoy seeing kids thrive academically that I helped years before to address learning differences, especially if they would have otherwise been overlooked by others. I also feel proud knowing that I help each student as a whole person: to interact socially, develop empathy, remain curious, feel confident, and advocate for oneself. Like reading, these skills are critically important to reaching our full potential to enjoy life and contribute to society.
In some regards, however, the most rewarding aspect of my work may be the relief.
Like parents, we teachers worry about our kids—even when we see improvement firsthand. Have we waited too long? Am I using the appropriate tools? What else is affecting progress?
That sense of relief usually comes when I see a sustained, coordinated system working together as an educational team. The team includes teachers, tutors, and families all working together supporting the student and committed to his/her success. That is when I know “we’ve got this” and we can all breathe a sigh of relief.
I really do believe that I’m making a profound difference in the lives of children and the adults that they will become—parents, employees, citizens, and perhaps ….even teachers.
Stacey Kasoff is Learning Ally’s June 2017 Tutor of the Month. She’s also the owner/managing member of Off Syllabus, LLC, which specializes in dyslexia intervention programs, including IMSE’s Orton-Gillingham and Wilson Reading Systems. She provides one-on-one and small-group research-based tutoring programs in schools and homes in Northern Virginia. Most recently, Stacey became an IMSE Orton-Gillingham Instructor, helping to train teachers across the country in the Institute for Multi-Sensory’s Orton-Gillingham approach.
Learning Ally is a leading ed-tech nonprofit organization proven to transform the lives of struggling readers with learning differences. Not a member yet? Try a quick start package for your school or become an individual member, and then sign up for our Summer Reading Together – a free summer reading program for Learning Ally member schools and families.
– Jules Johnson
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