Tanya's Story

 
Tanya Brown is the literacy co-ordinator at an inner London secondary school. We asked about the process of implementation after Thinking Reading had been operating in the school for a term.
 

Choosing Thinking Reading

Why did you decide to implement Thinking Reading?

I attended Thinking Reading training a few years ago, at that stage resources were not available [participants were taught how to make resources] and I was not in a position to create my own. I was so impressed with the training and the theories behind the programme that I kept in touch with Dianne.  Two years later, after researching many different literacy programmes and not being very happy with any of them, I contacted Dianne to see if resources had been produced.  To my luck, they had!  Thinking Reading is founded on principles of teaching that have been proven to work.  The programme is backed by tangible data which shows students making rapid progress and maintaining their end results over an extended period of time. No other programme out there has this sort of evidence.
 

Training

What was your experience of the training? 

It is by far the best training I have ever been on. The material is delivered in a thoughtful way - there is plenty of time for discussion and the gaps between the training days allow you to implement each part of the programme successfully.

 

Implementation

What challenges have you faced with implementing the programme and how have you dealt with them?

Our biggest challenge has been getting the teachers to support us.  We often need to take the year 11s from their lessons which they are never really happy about.  It also took a long time for our stationery to arrive, which made starting up a bit difficult but once we had everything we needed it was smooth sailing.

 We approached the teachers we knew would be supportive at first.  When the student’s progress became evident, word got around, and teachers were happy to let students out of lessons.  We also change the student timetables every half term to ensure they are not missing too much of one lesson.  Teachers then don’t mind students coming out of 5 or 6 lessons.

Why is Thinking Reading part of the English Department? 

When I started, the agreement was anything literacy would be linked to English.  The Literacy Centre is based in the English department and is seen as a branch of the subject.  I think it makes it less intimidating for the students.  The only difficulty is that some teachers then feel all literacy interventions should take place during English lessons which obviously cannot be done. This is slowly changing though and staff are much more supportive, now that they have seen the results, than they were four months ago.

How long did it take before staff felt confident delivering the programme?

For the first week the literacy teachers observed one another and gave feedback.  The training is so thorough and there is so much practice built into the training days that we all felt pretty confident to go off and teach.

 

Support

How have you found the level of support since implementation?

Dianne’s support has been amazing.  Any questions or follow up from training that we have needed have been answered quickly and thoroughly.  No other programme I have worked with offers this level of support.  Dianne also returned to do lesson observations with staff and present them with certificates.  I was very impressed with this as it really motivated the staff (most had never taught before) to keep a high standard of teaching.

 

Impact

What impact have you seen so far?

We have started delivering the programme to year 11s.  The most notable change is the confidence in the students.  We have had emails from teachers commenting on the change in the students behaviour and motivation and the high standard of work they are now delivering.

What feedback have you had from staff?

Staff enjoy teaching the programme.  It is simple enough to use and well organised.

What feedback have you had from students?

Reluctant readers are asking us for books!  Students confidently comment on the improvement they are making and feel that they understand more in lessons.  While they may be apprehensive at first that soon fades when they see the progress they are making. It’s been very exciting to see.  Both parents and students are thrilled with the results.

The Future

What are your plans?

To continue to use Thinking Reading.  At the moment our focus is on the year 10 and 11s.  Hopefully the Literacy Centre will expand next year and we will have more staff teaching Thinking Reading.