Creating Reading Partnerships


I’m excited to be able to say that I am in the middle of working on my first e-book! It’s about halfway done, and I hope to have to released some time this summer. The book is going to focus on how to create reading partnerships with adolescents.

Reading partnerships is a simple concept that can give you lots of mileage in your classroom. The concept was born of a far to common problem. Lots of teachers know that many of their students have academic reading difficulties. If you teach adolescents, you may feel frustrated or hopeless when it comes to addressing these difficulties. You may not believe you know what to do. You may not have the time or the materials to address them.

Additionally, you’re not just trying to address reading difficulties – that’s not the entirety of your job! To make things even more complicated you likely have a class of students with a diverse range of reading abilities and needs. You need to help your students who have difficulties, yes, but you also need to be responsive to those who are meeting or exceeding grade-level expectations in reading.

We want our students to be able to read well.
We want our students to be able to read well.

How on earth do you do that?

It’s Complicated, but Doable

I developed the concept of reading partnerships with teachers of adolescents in response to the above problem.  The basic premise of reading partnerships is this:

Reading partnerships refer to teachers interacting with students around texts and reading instruction as opposed to trying to do things to students to make them better readers. What do I mean about doing things with rather than to students? When we, as teachers, do things to students we are often trying to “fix” them in some way. We have identified one or more skills a student is deficient in, and we create instruction and experiences that are designed to help the student become more proficient in that particular skill.

I know, I know, we want students to improve their reading comprehension abilities. And doing that must mean that we have to figure out what they cannot do well and then focus in on that, right?

Well, sort of. It’s a bit of a mind shift.

The short answer is yes, of course we have to always be helping our students grow. Yes, we have to challenge them. We are their teachers, and we can see things they cannot. We can push them in ways they would never know they needed.

But, we also have to make room for them to have a voice in their development as readers. Instead of trying to turn them into a particular kind of reader, we have to listen to who it is that they want to become AND we then have to be respectful and responsive of their ideas.

This doesn’t mean that we don’t teach them the curriculum. We do. But we also make space for them and their ideas and thoughts and goals about reading. Because believe me, they have them.

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