I get it... the frustration of yet again another hoop you have to jump through to finally get into the classroom. You are tired! You have taken all your courses, passed all the other testing requirements, and now you are looking down the barrel of the RICA. Why is becoming a teacher this hard?
You may have long dreamt about the beautiful children you will teach, the fun activities and lessons you will create, and the Pinterest perfect classroom you will show off. Why do you even have to take this stupid test? You are meant to be a teacher! A test cannot truly measure your worth as an educator, right?
Well, yes... but a bit of a no, too. Hear me out.
Reading is the single most important skill you will teach at the elementary level. It is the foundation and the building blocks to all other learning. It shapes a student's desire to learn, their self-esteem, and their willingness to take academic risks. In fact, proficient reading directly effects the trajectory of a student's future. Did you know that according to the Literacy Project Foundation 75% of prison populations are illiterate? It doesn't take a rocket scientist to recognize that there is a strong connection between how well a child reads and their potential for a successful adulthood.
So what does that mean for you, dear future teacher? The stakes are high. Teaching reading IS founded in brain research. There ARE, in fact, best practices when in comes to instruction. There are brief windows of developmental opportunity where we as teachers can maximize a student's learning and correct small problems before they become big problems if we have the right tools. These are the things you need to learn in order to serve your students well. And dare I say it, but the RICA forces you to begin your quest for reading knowledge.
Here's the reality... about 40-50% of students (the numbers vary a bit by source) will learn to read with most forms of instruction. For a very small portion of the population, learning to read seems to happen almost effortlessly. But the majority of students benefit from direct, systematic, explicit instruction in the 5 pillars of reading (phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension). In fact, up to 15% of our school populations are dyslexic and absolutely REQUIRE a skilled teacher knowledgeable in reading instruction.
You see teaching reading IS rocket science, and the stakes are so high that we cannot fail our students. A great teacher has this knowledge in their toolkit. Right now your toolkit is small, but through experience and preparing for the RICA it will grow. As a result, you will be an amazing teacher with or without the Pinterest perfect classroom.
Much love to you,