The training took five days. Do you think it required that much time?
How did you feel during and after the training?
What do you think you gained from taking part in the training?Kathy: I gained a great deal; I learnt new theories about learning and behaviour. For example, precision teaching and the five stages of learning. I also gained a better understanding for the way children learn how to read, and how to teach them to read, how to recognise if an error a student is making is because of a chronic or non-chronic problem and the different strategies that can be used when this is distinguished.
In conclusion, I gained insight and understanding and was equipped with a programme to implement and help students to think and read.
Melissande: Apart from the practical elements of delivering the programme, I was very interested in the research around Direct Instruction and the importance of fluency. I also knew little about the stages of Precision Teaching and the stages in learning and retaining information. The teaching about Applied Behavioural Analysis was also new to me and I would be interested in reading more about this.
How prepared did you feel immediately after your training?
Kathy: To be totally honest, I felt lost. I was not confident at all in my own skills or ability but luckily I work with some fantastic people who were a lot more prepared than I and helped to reassure me.
Melissande: I found the training very interesting and quite intense. By the end of the week, I was very tired.
How did the process of setting up the Literacy Centre compare to your expectations?
Kathy: Things were a lot easier than I expected. I think that this was because we had the full backing of the Head and other members of SLT.
Melissande: We were very lucky to have the full support of the senior management and head teacher of our school and so setting up the literacy centre was straightforward and we have all the space and equipment that we need. Our IT department have also been amazing and set up the timetables for all the students that we see so that there are no clashes.
Hannah: It was quite a big job. There was a lot of paperwork to organise and put together correctly. We had to ensure that we had all the resources and storage to set it up and it took a lot of work and effort to put it all together. I think we were prepared for this though and it all came together quite nicely in the end.
What were the challenges with setting up the Literacy Centre?
Kathy: Unfortunately I don’t feel that this question is relevant to my experience as Mel and Hannah set up the Literacy Centre before the end of term and then I joined at the beginning of the next academic year.
Melissande: Due to the support of the school, we did not find the process challenging but there was a lot to prepare. The reprographics department was very instrumental in preparing all the copied and laminated resources.
As we had only recently acquired the LASS programme [for screening], the testing of students took some time and was somewhat arbitrary but now all new Year 7’s are being tested this issue will resolve itself.
The record keeping aspect of the programme in terms of the spreadsheet and graphs is also more straightforward than I anticipated. The spreadsheet is an invaluable resource in terms of keeping a record of both the students on the programme and those waiting for a place.
How do you feel about working with the Thinking Reading programmes now?
Kathy: I feel comfortable with the Thinking Reading programmes now. For me it was one of those things that I had to do to feel confident and comfortable that I was implementing correctly. When I started I was really nervous that I was doing things wrong, but as you start to see the progress being made and the kids learning and overcoming problems they had, I realised I must be doing something right. After a few weeks I became both accurate and fluent in my delivery.
Melissande: I am comfortable delivering the programme and it very quickly becomes routine and the preparation and write-up are easy to complete. It is very important to keep up with the paperwork so that the lessons run smoothly.
I think that the follow-up visit by Dianne and the subsequent feedback was invaluable. I think it would be beneficial for this to be a regular occurrence.
What has been the most satisfying aspect of this initiative?
Kathy: The most satisfying thing is the progress made by the students and seeing how much they get out of doing well. We have students in our Literacy Centre that elsewhere in school don’t often get a lot of positive praise. When they come to Thinking Reading they are always guaranteed to get the recognition they deserve for positive behaviour. It is very satisfying to see this translate to their overall schooling experience.
Melissande: Watching the students make progress in their reading and enjoying the attention that comes in a one-to-one session.