Due to the COVID world that we are currently living in, planning for the upcoming trimester is challenging, as was the summer session.  Putting it all together certainly takes time, creativity, exploration of new instructional strategies, and implementation. These strategies then need to be adapted to the needs of each student, which are as varied as the approaches. Even with all of that, being an adult literacy educator is one of the most rewarding experiences. Our students are so motivated, persistent, patient, and flexible – qualities we should all possess.

The reading process contains four basic components: alphabetics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. I often try to keep the subject matter for our lessons topical. There is a great deal of timely material to use about the pandemic. Being able to understand the issues that we face today is paramount for all of us.

For instance, a vocabulary list for a reading passage today may include the following words: coronavirus, endemic, epidemic, pandemic, asymptomatic, quarantine, respirator, ventilator, vaccine, epidemiologist, and PPE. Whew! All these words will need to be broken down into sounds and syllables, defined in and out of context, pronounced correctly, and read fluently for comprehension to occur. Facilitating all of this in a “normal” classroom environment takes much coordination; with distance instruction in takes so much more.

Instruction can be a remote classroom, brick and mortar class, hybrid, on FaceTime, Zoom, or telephone. Tutors must receive the lessons and materials to be used with their students in advance of their meetings. These lessons must then be adapted to fit the mode of instruction and each student’s individual needs and abilities must also be taken into consideration.

Even with all of the uncertainty that we are experiencing in our lives right now, the READ Center continues to meet the needs of our students. The students, in turn, are working so hard to coordinate their busy lives to work with us. This has been a cooperative effort of the entire READ family.

I do miss the personal, face to face interaction and support we get from sitting side by side. However, we have managed to keep the feeling of community and family intact. During this pandemic, I have learned many new things about education, myself, patience, and flexibility. I look forward to seeing our students in a regular classroom situation again. Until then, I will do my best to provide the instruction that will benefit our students and help them to reach their literacy goals.

Carolyn Harsh

Teacher / Tutor Trainer

Note: Carolyn is a retired teacher who came to The READ Center as a volunteer tutor and has taught at READ for more than 10 years. She is admired by her colleagues and tutors and loved by her students.