When you become a specialist reading teacher you will work with cooperatively with teachers to help students experiencing problems in areas of literacy. It will be your responsibility to develop and implement special reading programs for individual students to help them meet the needs of the curriculum. To obtain this type of position, you will need to hold at least a Master of Education degree. In job postings for such positions, the preferred qualifications include a Ph.D in Education or a Master's degree in combination with extensive teaching experience.
A degree program leading to receiving a job as a Specialist Reading teacher usually involves taking about twelve university courses and writing a thesis on the topic. During the course of your studies, you will undertake research of your own, learn about all the different kinds of reading research and take advanced methodology courses to enable you to be an effective teacher of reading. You will also have to take courses in Special Education so that you are competent in working with students with learning disabilities or difficulties in areas of literacy.
A Specialist Reading teacher is usually part of a national or international organization, such as The National Council for Teachers of English or the International Reading Association. It is unlikely you would work in one particular school in this position. Rather, you will be hired by a school district and spend time in a variety of schools providing support to the teachers. Exceptional communication and presentation skills are a requirement for this position, as you will often have to make presentations to groups of teachers or attend various meetings at the school and district levels.
You do need to meet the requirements for admission to a program leading to designation as a Specialist Reading teacher. You must have at least a 2.75 grade point average on a 4.0 scale in your undergraduate degree. Depending on the state, you may need previous teaching experience and certification as a teacher in that state. Once you complete the program of studies, you will then have to take a certification exam providing the endorsement of reading specialist.
Teachers may call upon you to help them with reading assessments when they have students in the class that are not performing as they should. You should have knowledge of the various formal and informal reading assessments and be able to help the teacher learn to use them on their own. In addition, you can introduce different methodologies for teaching reading into schools, such as Guided Reading, which is a part of a Balanced Literacy program. Individualized reading and learning centers are often hard for older teachers to implement in their classrooms and this can be part of your responsibility.
The implementation of the guidelines of the No Child Left Behind means that many school districts are actively recruiting reading specialists. They want to be able to increase the reading scores of the students in the district so that all students can experience success in their schoolwork. When students have difficulty reading and writing, they usually have difficulty in all areas of the curriculum. In this type of position, you have a tremendous responsibility for the education of children in your jurisdiction. To see the sight of delight on the face of a child who reads his/her first book or gets a good mark on an exam makes all the hard work seem very easy.