Classroom Management: Setting the Stage for the Science of Reading


In this blog series, Savvas author, educator, and literacy expert Dr. Lee Wright will guide us through the importance of effective classroom management when delivering Science of Reading-based instruction, along with practical strategies you can start using right away to help lead your students to reading proficiency.

Recently in education, the term Science of Reading has really been trending. And as more states and districts are making Science of Reading-based instruction mandatory, many educators are still trying to wrap their heads around what it is and how they can put it into their classroom practices.

Savvas - Classroom Management: Setting the Stage for the Science of ReadingAs we embark on learning more about the Science of Reading, there's a crucial piece of effective instruction that we must not overlook — and that piece is classroom management.

Science of Reading Provides the Content, Classroom Management Provides the Context

Effective reading instruction demands both highly effective content knowledge, such as the knowledge described within the Science of Reading research, and equally effective instructional context knowledge, otherwise known as classroom management. Classroom management encompasses a wide range of knowledge and skills on how best to optimize the physical organization of the classroom, as well as the social/emotional and cultural needs of the classroom’s stakeholders.

There has been a lot of focus lately on the content knowledge that the Science of Reading advances, but possibly not enough focus on the context in which that content should be taught. So, with this series we are going back to basics. 

We will examine information that ensures the reading lessons we teach, which are based on this new, important content reading knowledge, do not inadvertently become undermined. Science of Reading-informed lessons can easily become derailed as a result of poor reading material organization and frequent redirecting of student off-task behaviors — both of which eat away at valuable instruction time and both of which can be prevented with quality classroom management. Afterall, focusing on both the content of our reading lessons and the context in which our reading instruction takes place holds the highest promise for our ability to succeed in delivering high-quality daily reading instruction.


The Importance of Classroom Management to Support Effective Reading Instruction

The Science of Reading is causing teachers to wrestle with how best to make needed changes towards how they teach reading. For example, teachers today are grappling with how to incorporate decodable readers into their lessons, and what to do with their guided reading libraries. They are busy trying to figure out how best to display and use evidence-informed reading charts, such as sound walls and posters featuring diagrams, diphthongs, and prefixes/suffixes. They are considering how to make changes to their classroom literacy activities. And they are trying to decide which reading tools, such as reading manipulatives, are most effective to use for intensifying evidence-informed reading instruction. 

Addressing these kinds of instructional changes not only requires an increase in teachers' knowledge of scientifically-based reading pedagogy but it also requires sound classroom management decision-making. For example, using decodable readers requires classroom management decisions for how best to organize, label, display, and store them while also making them easily accessible for students. Evidence-informed classroom displays require decisions on when and how to exhibit these resources for student reference. Changes to literacy activities require decisions on which ones to keep, which ones to upgrade, and which ones to replace. Upgrading and/or replacing literacy activities requires additional classroom management decisions, such as:

  • How to organize and maintain the structure of each activity
  • How to organize and label activity direction sheets alongside their corresponding manipulatives
  • Where and when to place each new literacy activity within the classroom
  • How best to label each literacy activity for ease of student access and storage
  • How and when to teach children routines for retrieving, using, and housing literacy activities

Furthermore, each new reading manipulative that is placed in the classroom requires even more classroom management decisions, such as how, where, and when to house, label, and make it available for students’ use.

The successful implementation of the instructional changes required for Science of Reading-informed instruction is highly dependent on the teacher's classroom management knowledge and skills. The more classroom management knowledge and skills teachers have in their toolbox, the better they will be able to address the challenges associated with the successful implementation of Science of Reading-based instruction in the classroom. 

Elements of Successful Classroom Management

Classroom management is the bedrock upon which all solid lessons are built. But what does successful classroom management for the Science of Reading look like? The following are five elements of classroom management we will explore in this blog series that will help you set the stage for effective Science of Reading-informed instruction:

  • The physical classroom is well-organized 
  • Learning routines are taught prior to lessons
  • Students are taught to be independent learners
  • Lessons are engaging 
  • Students’ parents partner in the learning process

In future blogs, we will take a deeper dive into each of these elements and I will show you what it entails, why it’s important, and how you can implement these ideas and strategies in your classroom. And in the meantime, happy teaching!

Food for Thought: Unfortunately, more and more teachers are reporting dissatisfaction with the profession of education not because of the content knowledge they are charged with teaching but because of student discipline problems, perceived lack of parental involvement, challenges with how to juggle whole- and small-group instruction, and how to make time for teaching state standards. All of these challenges can be addressed through effective classroom management. So, if we take time to plan out the elements of successful classroom management, we can hopefully minimize this dissatisfaction and fall in love with teaching once again.


About The Author

Lee Wright, Ph.D.

Dr. Wright began his career as a kindergarten teacher in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas. For over two decades, he spent time as a literacy coach, Texas statewide staff developer, and professor of education. Today, he trains educators on topics that focus on the importance of effective classroom management, small-group instruction, and early literacy. He is a coauthor of Three Cheers for Pre-K and myView Literacy from Savvas Learning Company.