This self-study explores my experience as a beginning reading teacher over a span of more than 30 years. It includes a brief look at theoretical models of reading and philosophical movements that impacted my experience as a classroom teacher and then lays my classroom experience and practice against the literature and historical background related to beginning reading instruction. The question studied is "How did the district-mandated curriculum in each era shape me as a literacy teacher and literacy instruction in my school context?" The purpose of the study is to unearth the impact of educational policies on my classroom practice. The methodology of self-study was employed to explore the tensions brought about as changes occurred. The study focuses on seven areas of educational change that influenced my practice in beginning reading instruction over three eras, the first being the late 1970s, the second the late 1990s, and the third beginning about 2008. The areas discussed include embedded beliefs about student achievement, mechanisms driving instruction, instructional approaches employed, reading program characteristics, assessment, professional development, and collaboration. All three eras contained experiences of personal and professional growth. In the first era, autonomy was a characteristic of almost every theme. The second era was characterized by the purposeful focus on professional development and support of student growth. The third era featured an increase in assessment and oversight of the mandated program implementation. Teacher capacity built in the second era enhanced my use of the commercial reading program mandated in the third era. While my current context seems similar to the first era, because of the richness of my experience, I am not right back where I started.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Teacher Education



Date Submitted


Document Type





beginning reading instruction, self-study, change, basals, core literacy programs, CELL/ExLL