How Principals can support the School Reading Program
Reading invariably comes first on everyone's list of basic academic skills and I certainly endorse that ranking. Much information that school has to offer is coded in print, and pupils ability to unlock and use all these knowledge depends on fluent, skillful, critical and independent reading.
Children must develop a genuine love for reading, and this love for reading can be enhanced through the implementation of the school reading program. Once implemented, everybody in the entire school should work hand-in-hand in order for it to become a success.
Aside from the teachers (and parents), the one person who has a big role in the implementation of the school reading program is the principal. Contrary to what we always know, the principal's role goes beyond giving inspiration to both the pupils and teacher. Below are the points, the principal should consider as his/ her role to support the school reading program.
1. Be a reader and a writer yourself
Lead by example. Show the children and the teachers that you love to read and write. Visit classrooms and read aloud or discuss books with children. You can insert this activity while doing your regular observation of classes. You may also write and share your writing in the school paper or the community.
2. Be an audience for pupils
While doing your routine classroom rounds, take time to read kids' writings or works on their bulletin boards and walls. Let the pupils know that aside from their teachers and parents, you've read and appreciate their works. This is a big morale boost for the children. You may also put up the principal's mailbox near your office and enter into active correspondence with the children. But once you put this up, please take time to read and answer the correspondence yourself for the children are clever enough to know if you're not the one answering their letters.
3. Make sure all the classrooms have books for the children to read
Help the teachers tap the right budget lines to buy books, encourage parents to raise funds for more books, hold bake sales or garage sales if necessary to get more books into the classrooms. Initiate, writing workshops for children (like children story writing workshop, essay writing workshop, or poem writing workshop), and provide all the materials needed for that workshop. Have the output of that workshop be bounded and add that to the reading materials in the library or in their classrooms. No matter how simple their outputs are, do not forget to write the names of the children as the authors. Again this would surely motivates them to read and write more.
4. Celebrate literacy week/ month in your school
Special events like Reading Month, National Book Week, English Camp and a lot more should be celebrated in your school. In all these occasions, incorporate reading and writing activities. Create a space and occasions for displaying written works in noncompetitive atmosphere. I personally do not encourage competition wherein only one is a winner while the rest are all losers. Everyone needs an audience, not a contest. Contests that stress only quantity reading and writing degrade literacy and invites cheating.
You may ask how should you celebrate literacy week/ month in you school without a contest? Initiate activities like symposium, theater, film showing or anything appealing to the children and encourage them to think, read and write. You may also put up exhibits of different literary works, book sales, or a day or an hour of free reading wherein you just let them pick out a book they wanted to read. This is a no stress, no obligation reading activity. Doing this, you encourage them and teach them that reading is fun and not something that is boring.
5. Help teachers to seek the support of parents in the school reading program
Proactively, teachers may let the parents know about the school reading program through their PTC's (Parents- Teacher Conferences). Here they can explain to them how a reading and writing program is being taught and why the school has embraced the said reading and writing program. Re-actively, you as a principal, may step in and support the teachers when an informed or skeptical parents question or attack the program.
6. Use your role as a leader, supervisor and evaluator
Let your teachers know that it's good to use language arts/ reading time to read aloud, do story telling, conduct daily classroom reading and writing activities, share dialogues and journals and be creative enough to adopt promising reading/ writing practices in their respective classes. In your classroom visitations, evaluate congruently: If the teacher uses the process approach wherein he/ she takes the function of a facilitator or coach to his pupils, you should expect to see nonrepresentational, highly individualized, student centered workshop activities and outputs.
7. Work with your co-principals in the district to align the curriculum guide and standardized testing within the norms and culture of the community
As instructional leader, work collaboratively with the other principals in the district to align the curricular content and standardized tests of language and reading learning materials as well as teachers guide. You may work together to examine, revise and/ or eliminate content that are not found within the locality and those you think may cause ambiguity to the children. Through this the children may identify themselves to what they are reading or studying and eventually they will be motivated to read more because they read their experiences in the learning materials.
8 Initiate training and seminar and invite genuinely facilitative people to help your teachers develop their reading, writing and teaching skills
Empowering your teachers will surely lessen your job as principal. Introduce your teachers to people (through seminars and training) that will truly train them. Explore the philosophy and classroom practices of progressive instruction. After each workshop, follow - up on your teachers and support them in their effort to install new practices in their respective classroom.
You may also nurture continuing growth and emerging peer leadership among your staff by sending volunteer teachers to workshops, crash courses, summer institutes and teacher-training-teachers events. Support your outstanding and committed teachers by giving them a chance to lead and share with colleagues.
9. Take time to read researches, scan journals and pass along ideas and articles to your teachers
Be the source of information to your teachers. Exchange ideas with them, work on joint projects, think and grow with them. If you cannot do this because of your busy schedules, you may order books that your teachers requested for their own growth. Be generous. Invest on books. Let your teachers read so that the children will be encouraged to read as well.