A Mantra For All (Literacy) Teachers

"[Engaged reading] is a merger of motivation and thoughtfulness. Engaged readers seek to understand … [They] are mastery oriented and teachers create contexts for engagement when they provide prominent knowledge goals; real-world connections to reading; and meaningful choices about what, when and how to read.” (Guthrie, 2001)

As literacy teachers, we know that literacy development requires the strengthening of word recognition skills, building of vocabulary; guided reading; guided writing; the shaping of discourse (or oral language); the development of knowledge; the establishment of practices and the fostering of literate identities. This occurs in multiple contexts with others for various purposes across time through coherent and developmental instruction, passionate and visionary teachers, quality materials and resources, and a deep respect for the learners’ cultures, contexts and experiences. We want students to learn, be and become through teaching that is developmentally sensitive, culturally appropriate and aspirational in environments which are safe, secure and free from discrimination and inequity.

We must ensure that there is quality instruction at all levels using quality resources in quality environments through quality relationships with quality opportunities that are carried out in a supportive form of life in that complex stream of living.

In relation to the practicalities of language and literacy development, we encourage instructors, tutors and parents to use simple language to describe best practice. In the end, the best teacher should:

  1. talk regularly with learners about things for both their oral language development and their knowledge development; 
  2. read to learners, read with learners, and help learners read on their own;
  3. write for learners (shared & interactive writing), write with learners (joint construction), and help learners write on their own
  4. help learners understand phonics, letters, words, and grammar;
  5. help them learn about the world and about themselves; and
  6. help learners be active in ways that the use language and literacy as tools for understanding, expression and action (Pinnell & Fountas, 1997).


  • Guthrie, J. T. (2001). Contexts for Engagement and Motivation in Reading. Reading Online, 4(8). Retrieved from http://www.readingonline.org/articles/handbook/guthrie/
  • Pinnell, G. S., & Fountas, I. C. (1997). Help America Read: A Handbook for Volunteers. Portsmouth: Heinemann.