With 10 million students in grades K-12 struggling to read, taking those struggling readers from disengaged to enthused may seem like a huge feat. However, doing just one thing to take action can cause a wave of reaction throughout the entire school. In a recent edWebinar, Nelda Reyes, a dyslexia interventionist at De Zavala Elementary in San Marcos (TX) Consolidated Independent School District, shared how she was able to establish a culture of reading at her school by creating a sense of belonging, building awareness, and never taking no for an answer.

Before Reyes started any initiatives at De Zavala Elementary, the general feel in her classroom regarding reading was a lack of enthusiasm, interest, or any conversation about books and authors. Promoting a school-wide reading culture, as well as recognition for the struggling readers (many who have never had that feeling before), was crucial to curbing these negative feelings. She successfully created an atmosphere of reading and literacy at her school with the following strategies.

Be a reading cheerleader. Make sure all teachers are becoming their students’ reading cheerleaders throughout the day. Motivation in class and the hallways, through notes, and over announcements will give students the boost they need to start believing in themselves.

Create an inclusive environment. Create an inclusive environment, not just in the intervention classroom but in students’ own classrooms so they feel like they can participate with the rest of the class. Emphasize that they each have their own beliefs and opinions that they can bring back and share in their classrooms.

Build students’ self-esteem. Instill that attitude is just as important as ability to achieve success. “Sprinkle” positive visions of the future by telling students about famous dyslexic entrepreneurs, scientists, and actors. They will see that they can achieve success too.

About the Author:

Julia Ottesen is the community & public relations coordinator for edWeb.net. She coaches edWeb members, partners, and sponsors on using online networking for collaboration, and helps to spread the word about how this collaboration helps teaching and learning. Contact her on Twitter @edwebnet.