Education trends surrounding literacy teaching has become complex and difficult to determine to owe to the high-level uniqueness experienced within various education systems. Such trends have been influenced by social, political and historical dimensions. Various challenges existing within the current educational system require major adjustments within dimensions surrounding teacher professionalism.
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The need to assist literacy teachers obtain appropriate skills, knowledge, attitude as well as dispositions required for achieving high performances within diverse student population becomes more important. This arises as a result of the demographic composition of teachers within different locations where appropriate changes have not taken place.
Educating literacy teachers to accept and manage diversity is necessary for effective teaching on language and reading based on different ethnic backgrounds. Students’ backgrounds and life experiences are quite different from those of their teachers and their peers; managing such a situation calls for a good foundation on intercultural communication. This is because students are majorly influenced by their languages (Tompkins, 2008).
Evidence revealed that teachers strive to avoid working at urban schools as well as other institutions within low-class areas where there are the greatest need and demand for literacy teaching. This calls for education programs to focus on educating teachers towards the management of language diversity.
This assists in reducing negative attitude literacy teachers have towards working at urban schools and other lowly graded institutions attended by ethnic-minority students (Zeichner, 2003).
Challenges for literacy teachers and teaching in contemporary, diverse classrooms
Literacy instruction has been considered complicated by teachers especially where many students’ reading capabilities are below grade level. This is because the provisions given through the curriculum emphasizes teaching students at proficient levels.
Such provisions force teachers to strike a balance between offering services to students at their reading level and at the same time exposing them to various materials and concepts associated with their grade level despite finding difficulties to cope with reading standards at some level.
Teachers fail to strike a balance between a student’s instructional level and teaching grade level content. Hence, giving much time to student’s instructional level makes students lag in most instances (Tompkins, 2008).
Additionally, participating in ‘guided reading’ also posses equal challenges to literacy teachers. The process involves working with students in small groups for the purposes of improving their reading levels.
Such practices seem difficult when it comes to facilitation since teachers have to ensure that both the small group and the rest of the students engage in serious, meaningful work (Tompkins, 2008).
Challenge in materials used
Provision of new materials used for literacy has posed a considerable challenge. This is since a good percentage of the curriculum relies on mandatory textbooks. Such inclusions put limits on the ability of teachers to incorporate themes and content from other areas within their literacy classes. Hence restrictions provided by such curriculums do not give teachers the freedom to make decisions concerning appropriate materials to use (Tompkins, 2008).
The challenge of writing
There is significant evidence that students currently spend less time writing. This has made it difficult for teachers to impose demands on time scheduling and pacing.
The achievement gap is widening between various sub-groups of students concerning literacy writing since the majority currently use modern technology where there are application and use of computers within most sectors. Other factors include an increase in the number of students with limited English language proficiency as well as some kind of disabilities (Tompkins, 2008).
However, literacy is recognized as one of the most basic skill required of all students. Statistics reveal that within some regions such as Britain and the United States, approximately one in five of the total population sampled is functionally illiterate, having difficulty in reading simple instructions.
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This has provided a challenge since teachers are unable to provide an integrated approach to reading capable of supporting the foundation of oral language, grammar, and fluency in reading.
Then there is the challenge students have in perceiving what is known as phonemes that comprise spoken words. This has made it difficult to recognize spoken word in order of phonemes which varies amongst individuals. Teaching those with less experience in listening to speech sounds, rhyme and word play has become little cumbersome for teachers (Tompkins, 2008).
Demographic changes have resulted in more differences between methods used by literacy teachers and students’ understanding. There is enough evidence showing that student population within public schools has increasingly become so much diverse. This has made most schools fall below the standards of offering high-quality education regardless of race or ethnocultural background of the students (Zeichner, 2003).
Such a failure has led to lack of respect for various ethnic languages, hence ensuring the poor performance of many ethnic and language minority students at public schools. Due to such issues, all cultural elements which seem relevant to students within education settings should be allowed in the classroom (Tompkins, 2008).
The challenge of enactment
Various challenges are faced by literacy teachers regarding enactment which in many occasions are usually compared to those encountered within other professional fields. Despite the development of solid ideas about teaching, there is always a challenge in the implementation process.
This issue is attributed to the fact that teachers perform various tasks in the same area at the same time, for instance focusing attention on students with difficulty in reading and pronunciations and at the same time giving attention to entire group seem difficult.
Such practices are much different from that of other professionals found within other fields. These tasks include compelling students’ attention to the subject of the lesson and interpretation of various tasks performed by the learners.
However, regarding efficiency purposes, well-learned structures for effective action and commanding of less attention are to be implemented. The challenges also include merging ability to think and professional actions during the early stages of teaching practice.
The effectiveness of the methods used by teachers in the classrooms is predominantly determined by initial classroom experiences. This can be attributed to the fact that educators need to ensure that students obtain sufficient opportunities enabling them to practice and do some reflection concerning teaching within their preparation programs.
There is a challenge to the fact that teaching is considered an incredibly complex and demanding task. For the effectiveness of the process to be realized, teachers are always required to learn how to think systematically for the purposes of assessing and overcoming various complexities involved. Teaching is believed to involve important relations between teacher, students and the subject being taught.
This involves issues, such as the manner of teaching and subject matter, the level of understanding of the teacher which ultimately influences the level of student understanding, also the relationships student have amongst themselves and their attitude towards the teacher.
Challenge on student’s Needs
The issue of globalization has led to the rising of the academic bar, which ultimately prepares students not only for performing industrial jobs but also for developing other skills, such as problem-solving abilities and disciplinary understanding. Such new distractions provided through emerging new technologies have placed a considerable challenge to teachers and educators.
They are expected to create an environment capable of making schooling relevant and meaningful to all the students. Due to such developments, teachers are demanded to create new modes of preparations as well as ensure new conditions capable of assisting in handling such complex situations within learning processes. Peer pressure is one of the most challenging issues amongst students that Literacy teachers face.
Problems may arise in various groups because of racial, ethnic, religious differences. However, tolerance should be taught at schools to help students from different backgrounds to relate to one another without any sense of discrimination (Tatum, 2008).
Students are more likely to feel safe and supported and achieved academic progress when they have a positive, respectful relationship between their teachers, families and the school. By involving parents in the running of the school (in terms of school goals and safety), they get a sense of participation in school life (Sergiovanni, 2012). They are more likely to take part in school activities and programs and support educators.
Community plays a great role in the future of students, and by working together, most schools become successful. One obstacle that may arise is involving a diverse group of parents in running the school. With the changing demographics, it is crucial that literacy teachers reach out to those parents and students who may otherwise encounter language difficulties hence feel isolated (Tatum, 2008).
Solution on the issues
Literacy teachers should provide students with opportunity on listening skills in the process of reading. Teachers should at first offer example to students by first of all reading to students loudly as they listen before giving them the opportunity to perform it on their own. This assists the learner in a comprehensive understanding of the story being read and enable them to hear the sounds and rhythms of the language taught.
It is also important for teachers to practically move their fingers under the text as they read for the purposes of assisting students in matching what they read with that which they hear. The method help students develop profound confidence as well as linguistic information required for reading books. Literacy teacher should make students to personally relate to the reading materials for easy comprehension of general reading (Tompkins, 2008).
Diversity is as a result of globalization has altered student demographics within learning institutions. Such a situation calls for Literacy teachers in the 21st century to adopt new, creative and effective ways of meeting the needs of a diverse student population based on languages.
However, teaching workforce within different regions does not reflect the changes being experienced in students’ demographics within schools with extensive cultural divide between teachers and students in most countries.
This has ultimately led to the widening of the achievement gap on reading and language use between majority and minority groups. The recruitment of a significant proportion of literacy teachers from various ethnic backgrounds is necessary to effectively address issues on language understanding and fluency in reading (Zeichner, 1992).
Literacy teachers should involve the principle of meta-cognition which would enable them to become adaptive experts capable of managing existing complexities. The concept involves principles of understanding one’s thinking and applying it appropriately in planning, analysis, and development of appropriate knowledge.
Also, the principle of being able to define learning goals and supervise the overall achievement process is included. Making students become their supervisors especially during reading lessons assist in improving performances beyond confines of the classroom. Such practices make Meta-cognition to be considered as an important component of adaptive expertise since it enables individuals to assess their performances (Zeichner, 1992).
The solution can be found if literacy teachers shift their focus from viewing student diversity as a problem rather than as a resource to improve their performance. The focus should focus more on personality factors, such as motivation, and never to contextual factors like ethnicity.
At the same time, these challenges can be solved through pre-service teacher education programs. Such programs have demonstrated a positive impact on teacher development. Literacy teachers need to believe that all the students have the potential of succeeding; hence they should effectively communicate such a belief to their students (Zeichner, 2003).
Literacy teachers should make students capable of setting their own goals. They should be at a position of holding students accountable for fulfilling such aims. Importantly, each teacher should make students feel proud of whatever they have accomplished and ensured that every pursuit comes to fruition.
One obstacle for this principle revolves around the lack of motivation among minority students. Lack of motivation holds most children back as they are more likely to create indiscipline scenes in the classroom and at school.
Sergiovanni, T. J. (2012). Strengthening the heartbeat: Leading and learning together in schools. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Tatum, A.W. (2008). Toward a More Anatomically Complete Model of Literacy Instruction: A Focus on Black Male Adolescents and Texts. Harvard Educational Review 1(78), 2-22.
Tompkins, G. (2008).Literacy for the 21st Century: A Balanced Approach. 5th Ed. London: Mcgraw Hill.
Zeichner, K. (1992). Educating Teachers for Cultural Diversity. NCRTL Special Report, (1), 2-22
Zeichner, K. M. (2003). The adequacies and inadequacies of three current strategies to recruit, prepare, and retain the best teachers for all students. Teachers College Record, 105(3), 490–519