Podcast Feature: Unlocking the Science of Reading
Leading with the Head and the Heart
“My calling is so that children can one day stand on their own without scaffolds, that children will one day reap the benefits that literacy is liberty, that children will one day be able to teach someone else the power that only literacy can bring.”
In recent years, research and reporting by journalists like Emily Hanford have revealed that many American schools are using disproven strategies to teach students how to read. Therefore, there’s an urgent need to help educators and parents alike understand the science of reading and put it into practice. That work is Mitchell Brookins’ professional mission.
Meet Mitchell Brookins
Equal parts educational leader, educator, and life-long learner of reading science, Mitchell Brookins has leveraged his passion and dedication to affect change in the lives of the students and teachers he works with, as well as the many educators he has inspired online. Today, he leads innovative work alongside Baltimore City Public Schools to help educators build strong literacy practices and ensure all students have the opportunity to reach their full potential.
In a new episode of Amplify Educations’ podcast, Mitchell opens up about the emotional journey he took—from realizing everything he’d been doing wasn’t working and that he’d never actually learned how to teach kids to read, to seeking out reading research and encountering the Science of Reading—a path that brought unparalleled transformation and success to his schools. Mitchell talks about how he is still learning and keeping students at the forefront of what he does every day, ending on a powerful story of a student who changed his life forever.
- “I remember as a third-grade teacher feeling somewhat defeated that there were like six kids in my class that I just could not reach. I didn’t know what to do, and no one could help me. And they just said, ‘Well, guided reading groups,’ and I was putting them in the guided reading groups, but they weren’t moving out of the level.”
- “I learned about wide reading, I learned about repeated reading. And I remember coming back on Monday morning, I brought my 3-5 team together, and I said, ‘You guys, I’ve got to share with you what I learned this weekend, and I think it could possibly work.’…Our ELA scores that year went up 10% on state assessments. And that’s when we all stood back and said, ‘There’s something about this.'”
- “I just reflected in myself and I said, ‘Growth is not attainment. Growth is not attainment.’ And that set with me, and it shifted my mindset. I said, ‘No longer am I going to speak growth from my students, but I’m going to speak attainment.’ And I wanted to ensure that the children that I serve, that they will get access.”
- “I love using the word inquiry because it’s not punitive. I’m not here to tell you that you’re doing it wrong. I’m not here to make you feel like you’re being punished. I’m letting my teachers know that I’m in it with them. Like, we need to figure this out together. And this is a process and every child is gonna be different, every group is gonna be different. But we need to have a process that we can use over and over again so that we get a clear understanding of the instructional core.”