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Each March, across the nation, Reading Awareness Month celebrates children’s interest in reading, writing and literacy… and here at IRL, we are not the exception. In honor of this month, we met with one of our most passionate teachers when it comes to Reading, Writing and Literacy.

Ms. Jane Blough teaches at Almansor Academy in Room #3. Jane has been teaching reading, writing and literacy for the last six years.  When we walked into her classroom, all nine students in her class were quiet and attentive listening to a passage from Johnny Tremaine. Her students were actively participating, raising their hands, and waiting their turn to answer the questions about the passage that were written on the whiteboard.

During one of their breaks, we had the chance to go outside to learn more about Jane’s journey here at AA, while the students stayed with Jane’s aide, Melissa. Melissa also joined the AA team six years ago, and between the two of them, they have helped to change the lives of many children through the gift of reading.

What’s the age group you teach?

I have 3rd to 7th graders in my classroom which is a big range. But remember that most of them have been out of school a lot and have missed a lot of education. By the time they get here, they feel that they are stupid and defective. You have to start from where they are and build up from there. You need to understand their problems and concerns and provide them with the tools that will help them grow as individuals.

When I walked into your class, I noticed that there are nine boys and only one girl! Is that the norm here at AA?

Yes, we are 75% boys at this location. She is actually only my third girl since I started six years ago. It is very common to have more boys than girls in special education as educators look at their behaviors differently.

How do you manage to keep all your students calm and engaged? What’s your superpower?

My superpower is to have an organized, predictable, and consistent schedule. My mornings look the same every day. If you start the day with a predictable schedule where their expectations can be met, they focus better and they can progress faster during their time with us.  The unknowns can trigger a lot of behavioral issues.

How do you engage your students to read and learn?

In my class, the students do a cold reading and we evaluate how they actually did it, and plan on how to work on their reading mistakes. My personal belief is in the repetition of reading as they start recognizing letters, words, and sounds. Obviously, some progress more than others or achieve their levels faster than others, but when this system is used properly, you can see their growth.  I also love to read to my students.

We also reinforce it by using a “star” reward system. I encourage each student to read their passage to the class daily. If they read, I give them a star by their name that is written on the whiteboard which them a bonus for privileges during the week.

Aside from reading, writing and literacy, what else do you teach?

We love animals and nature and I teach science and math.  But I also go with their interest which allows me to keep them engaged. I let them come with questions and we talk about it in a group setting.  For example, last week we talked about the war between Russia and Ukraine. We learned about presidential elections -the system and how it works last year. In their own world, they want to learn and they are curious.

Do you have a success story that you would like to share with the readers about your journey as a teacher?

I am passionate about teaching reading! I believe in modern society… if you can’t read, you can’t do anything. It is the most important skill in life as far as I am concerned. Reading opens opportunities. I had one student who came to me as a fourth-grader reading at first grade level. He left me two years later as a fifth grader reading at an eight-grade level. I believe that with the right tools and patience everyone can make progress and everyone is capable to improve and learn.

But no matter what, I want to believe that I am a fair teacher that gives my students a fair chance and opportunity to succeed in their own path. The definition of fair is not giving everybody the same thing, but giving everybody what they need to be successful. Not all of my kids need the same thing to be successful.

Each March, across the nation, Reading Awareness Month celebrates children’s interest in reading, writing and literacy… and here at IRL, we are not the exception. In honor of this month, we met with one of our most passionate teachers when it comes to Reading, Writing and Literacy.

Ms. Jane Blough teaches at Almansor Academy in Room #3. Jane has been teaching reading, writing and literacy for the last six years.  When we walked into her classroom, all nine students in her class were quiet and attentive listening to a passage from Johnny Tremaine. Her students were actively participating, raising their hands, and waiting their turn to answer the questions about the passage that were written on the whiteboard. 

During one of their breaks, we had the chance to go outside to learn more about Jane’s journey here at AA, while the students stayed with Jane’s aide, Melissa. Melissa also joined the AA team six years ago, and between the two of them, they have helped to change the lives of many children through the gift of reading.

What’s the age group you teach?

I have 3rd to 7th graders in my classroom which is a big range. But remember that most of them have been out of school a lot and have missed a lot of education. By the time they get here, they feel that they are stupid and defective. You have to start from where they are and build up from there. You need to understand their problems and concerns and provide them with the tools that will help them grow as individuals.

When I walked into your class, I noticed that there are nine boys and only one girl! Is that the norm here at AA?

Yes, we are 75% boys at this location. She is actually only my third girl since I started six years ago. It is very common to have more boys than girls in special education as educators look at their behaviors differently.

How do you manage to keep all your students calm and engaged? What’s your superpower?

My superpower is to have an organized, predictable, and consistent schedule. My mornings look the same every day. If you start the day with a predictable schedule where their expectations can be met, they focus better and they can progress faster during their time with us.  The unknowns can trigger a lot of behavioral issues.

How do you engage your students to read and learn?

In my class, the students do a cold reading and we evaluate how they actually did it, and plan on how to work on their reading mistakes. My personal belief is in the repetition of reading as they start recognizing letters, words, and sounds. Obviously, some progress more than others or achieve their levels faster than others, but when this system is used properly, you can see their growth.  I also love to read to my students. 

We also reinforce it by using a “star” reward system. I encourage each student to read their passage to the class daily. If they read, I give them a star by their name that is written on the whiteboard which them a bonus for privileges during the week.

Aside from reading, writing and literacy, what else do you teach?

We love animals and nature and I teach science and math.  But I also go with their interest which allows me to keep them engaged. I let them come with questions and we talk about it in a group setting.  For example, last week we talked about the war between Russia and Ukraine. We learned about presidential elections -the system and how it works last year. In their own world, they want to learn and they are curious.

Do you have a success story that you would like to share with the readers about your journey as a teacher?

I am passionate about teaching reading! I believe in modern society… if you can’t read, you can’t do anything. It is the most important skill in life as far as I am concerned. Reading opens opportunities. I had one student who came to me as a fourth-grader reading at first grade level. He left me two years later as a fifth grader reading at an eight-grade level. I believe that with the right tools and patience everyone can make progress and everyone is capable to improve and learn.

But no matter what, I want to believe that I am a fair teacher that gives my students a fair chance and opportunity to succeed in their own path. The definition of fair is not giving everybody the same thing, but giving everybody what they need to be successful. Not all of my kids need the same thing to be successful.

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