TRT Podcast #140: Getting the conversation started: With Emily Hanford
I’m so honored that Emily Hanford joined me on the podcast! It was her article “At a Loss for Words” that finally led me to rethink balanced literacy and begin learning about the science of reading. This episode will help you understand why some teachers are so resistant to learning about the science of reading – and Emily’s work will help you start the conversation.
Listen to the episode here
Full episode transcript
Hello! Anna Geiger here from The Measured Mom. I'm still pinching myself that Emily Hanford agreed to do a podcast interview with me. We had a wonderful conversation.
Anyone who's been listening to this podcast is familiar with Emily Hanford, but just as a refresher for anyone who's new, Emily Hanford has shared articles and podcast episodes over the last few years that have really brought the science of reading into the national conversation. It was actually her work that finally led me away from balanced literacy to understanding that what I had been doing wasn't all backed by research, and it led me to start studying what the research really says about how reading works. I'm so thankful to her for that.
We went through a lot of things in our conversation. We talked about how she started reporting about this topic, and we also talked about the resistance that many people feel when it comes to learning about the science of reading. I hope you'll keep those things in mind as you work to share the science of reading with your colleagues.
In the show notes, I'll be sure to share links to all of Emily Hanford's work. And with that, let's get started!
Anna Geiger: Welcome, Emily!
Emily Hanford: Hi! Thank you for having me.
Anna Geiger: I have said many times on this podcast and on my website that it was your article, your 2019 article, "At a Loss for Words," that really forced my way into the science of reading. It was hard for me at first, and it didn't happen right away, but I came back to the article multiple times and that led me down a path.
I would love to know what got you started writing about education because I know that wasn't your first piece. How did this begin? What were you doing before that?
Emily Hanford: Sure. Let me just say one thing at the start and we can return to this, which is that I read and listened to podcasts that you put together and pieces that you wrote about your experience of reading "At a Loss for Words" and listening to it. I learned a lot from you, and I feel like you've been very good at articulating the experience of being a balanced literacy teacher and coming to understand some of the stuff. I've read your blog posts many times too, and I really appreciate what you've contributed to this whole conversation. So I'm really glad to be here with you on the podcast.
Anna Geiger: Well, thank you. That is an incredible compliment!
Emily Hanford: So your question was how did I get started reporting on education? I was reporting on education for a long time before I got interested in reading instruction. I started reporting on education in 2008. I realize now, as someone who's very interested in history and how things happen and where ideas come from, that I was starting education reporting at an interesting time. It was 2008, so I didn't cover the reading wars or the National Reading Panel report or the controversies around Reading First. I really started as a reporter when those things were kind of coming to an end and we were moving on to balanced literacy.
I didn't think very much about reading and how it works and how it was being taught. First of all, I think I was one of those kids who learned to read pretty easily. I have two kids who are pretty much adults now, and they were learning to read back around that time and they learned to read pretty easily. So I didn't really think about it and I should have. I was a reporter, I should have known more than I did.
It wasn't until a few years ago, back in 2016 and 2017, when I was actually reporting on college students. I was meeting a bunch of college students who were talking to me about how difficult reading and writing were for them. I met this one student in particular who really talked about how she couldn't read very well at all. She really had never learned how to read. And I thought, how did that happen?
Most of my reporting had really been on secondary and post-secondary education because I would say there are a couple of themes in my reporting overall, to get to your question of why am I interested in education more broadly.
I think I was just really interested in the question of how family income, and poverty in particular, affect people's opportunities and outcomes, and the sort of role that education plays, or not, in helping us provide opportunity to people and having a more equal society. That was a real interest of mine.
And I think I was really interested in the cognitive science of how people learn. I didn't know that much about it, but I would dabble in it and was sort of intrigued by it. So I was always interested in those things.
Then when I met all these college students who were struggling with reading, I started thinking, "Huh, what's up with that? Maybe I'll just wind this way back."
I started looking at this question first through the lens of dyslexia because what I realized is that, I think, many of these students in college who weren't good readers, many of them had dyslexia or were somewhere on that spectrum where reading was really difficult for them.
So it started with dyslexia. I didn't know anything about it. I started learning a lot about learning disabilities in general and dyslexia. It was really through that and through some of the parents that I met who had kids with dyslexia, whose kids were really struggling in school, and the parents were really battling with the schools.
Many of them really started pointing me to this vast body of research on reading, how it works, how people learn to do it, and what children need to learn.
I was just completely fascinated at an intellectual level. I was like, "Wow, this is really interesting," just at a purely intellectual level I thought, "I want to learn more about this."
But I also realized, "Oh, the implications of this are huge." There's a really big problem here in terms of quite a big divide between what is known about reading and how it works, and what a lot of teachers know or think they know or don't know about reading.
That was when I just started in on this topic, and now it's been six years and I could never have predicted that I'd be on the same topic six years later.
Anna Geiger: How did you know where to go? What to look at? Where to learn? Becuse when I first read your article, I thought, and I've said this, "Oh, she's a journalist, what does she know?" Then I started reading and studying, and then I went back to it and I thought, "Wow, she's got all the quotes of the things that I've been learning now."
So clearly you knew what you were talking about, but how did you even know how to start?
Emily Hanford: It's a good question. I think I really benefited from the maturity that the reading science, generally speaking, has gotten to at this point.
When I started getting interested in this, Mark Seidenberg had just written his book called "Language at the Speed of Sight," and that was really my entry into this. I read some books by Maryanne Wolf. It was really through Mark's book and Maryanne's book, both very, I'm going to say accessible, but Mark's book is hard, and some of Maryanne's books are hard too, actually.
Anna Geiger: I think they're pretty tough actually for an entry point, so that's pretty impressive.
Emily Hanford: I would say that it was a great entry point for a journalist because they're full of footnotes, they're full of citations to studies. I know you know this rabbit hole where you just start following the research, and I just did that. What I realized is there was lots of it at this point, and there wasn't as much twenty years ago.
I think this is part of why what's happening now is happening now. There are really just a lot of accessible - as in you can buy them for not a huge amount of money or you don't have to buy them at all, they're available on the web - books and articles and overviews and just things that put it all together in a way that I'm not going to say is easy, but is digestible.
The other big article that came out right around the time when I first started getting interested in this is on the "Sold a Story" website. I have a reading list, Mark Seidenberg's book is on there, and so is the article that's freely available by Anne Castles, Kate Nation, and Kathy Rastle. It's called "Ending the Reading Wars: From Novice to Expert," and it's like fifty pages and a lot of notes and it's dense, but it's just a super thorough overview of all this stuff, and I recommend it to people all the time.
Anna Geiger: Yes, and very readable.
Emily Hanford: Very readable, very readable. I've read that one like I've read many of your blog posts many times. I've read that one more times than I could count. I just keep rereading it because I learn something new and I'm like, "Oh, wait, wait, follow that footnote next."
Anna Geiger: Let's go back and talk about the specific, I'm not sure what you would call it, podcast or publications that you did. Was "Hard Words" first?
Emily Hanford: Actually in 2017 I did the first piece, which was called "Hard to Read." That was the one that was specifically about dyslexia, the place I had landed after meeting those college students. "Hard to Read" is basically asking, why do so many kids who have dyslexia have a hard time getting the help they need in school?
What I realized... I had a big aha. I realized one of the reasons the kids with dyslexia have such a hard time getting the help they need in school is because there are a lot of people within schools who actually don't know what they need to know about reading and how it works. They don't really know about dyslexia. But more generally, they don't know how kids learn to read, and therefore what's going wrong when a kid is struggling to read, and what they need to do about it.
Many times in your public schools in the United States, you are actually more likely, I found, to find real knowledge about the science of reading among the special educators, sometimes, not always, and among speech pathologists and others who are really working with kids with learning disabilities.
That led to "Hard Words" because that was when I was like, "Oh, there's all this research just on reading and how we all do it and what we all need to learn. What kids with dyslexia need isn't something radically different than what all kids need. They just need more repetitions, a higher dose."
"Hard Words" was next. That was the overview of the what the science says, what some of the big findings are, and the problem with teacher preparation. That's been identified as a big part of the problem for a long time.
Then I think "At a Loss for Words," which came in 2019 was my aha through doing the work on "Hard Words" in 2018 recognizing that actually this isn't about a lack of phonics instruction only. For too long, we have been thinking about this as sort of phonics or no phonics.
As you know, balanced literacy usually does include some phonics instruction. Now we can talk about what that phonics instruction looks like, whether there's enough of a scope and sequence to it, whether it's deliberate and systematic enough, direct enough, whether there's enough of it. All those are good questions about a typical balanced literacy classroom, but a lot of people have recoiled to the idea. Balanced literacy teachers would be like, "I'm not NOT doing phonics, I am doing phonics."
What I realized is there were these other ideas that the teachers were actually learning in their curriculum materials and in the intervention programs they got. It was this idea that "At a Loss for Words" looks at which is the cueing idea.
So I took a look, "What is that? What are all these strategies that kids are being taught to read? Why are they being taught all those? What's the problem with those? What's the scientific research that showed that that's not a good idea?" Let me try to explain all of that.
I would categorize all of those projects as basic explanatory journalism. This is me going to schools, talking to parents, talking to kids, talking to researchers, reading a ton of research, trying to put it together and being like, "Hey, look! Here's something everyone should know!"
Then I would say that "Sold a Story," which came out more recently, was the result of a nagging question after all of that. How and why? How and why did this really happen? Let's really wind this back and try to follow these ideas and really try to look and sort of get the receipts.
We literally did that. We filed SO many records requests to find out what are schools spending their money on? What's being invested in? Where are these ideas coming from? What are these ideas? What's the harm they're doing? That's really what "Sold a Story" was about.
Anna Geiger: Yeah. Well I don't know if you would look at it this way, but I often look at the work you've done as kind of reigniting the reading wars. It's getting the big conversation going, not in a negative way, which is-
Emily Hanford: Ah, bummer! I don't want to reignite them!
Anna Geiger: Not in a negative way, but just getting people talking about it and seeing, "We've got to examine this now."
Now you're a household name among people who've learned about the science of reading, but when did that happen and why? Which one struck the biggest chord at first?
Emily Hanford: "Hard Words" did. I think that when I did that first "Hard to Read" piece, I knew, "Oh, this is a really big topic. I could probably do some more reporting on this for a while."
"Hard Words" I think took it out of the world of dyslexia. When you're framing this stuff in terms of dyslexia, that's only SOME people, and not an insignificant number of people, but it's still kind of a minority issue. Then I think Hard Words started to resonate with many teachers who realized, "Oh, wait a minute. This is about how I'm teaching ALL the kids to read."
And it started to resonate more and more with parents. I think the continued reporting, especially with "Sold a Story," really resonated with a lot of parents who don't have kids who are struggling with reading, but are still like, "Well, wait. Why is my kid being taught to read this way?" And they saw it during COVID too.
Anna Geiger: Yes, that was a big deal.
Emily Hanford: That was a big deal. I think there are some very big pieces of the puzzle that you can identify and put together and be like, "Oh, this is why we're talking about this so much right now in 2023."
Anna Geiger: Yeah, and as I mentioned before we went on the air, for so many teachers I've talked to it was around 2020 that all of this started to be discovered. They had some different amounts of time to dig into this when they weren't actually in the classroom, and this is when they discovered a lot of your work and other things, and it started all to make sense.
Emily Hanford: I have one more thought, which is I think that "Hard Words" was the piece that started getting a lot of people interested in this topic generally, and I think "At a Loss for Words" was the one that really was challenging for a lot of teachers in particular. So I even think a lot of teachers could listen to "Hard Words" and have a few moments of reflection and pause, but it was "At a Loss for Words" that really identified those word reading strategies.
As you said in a blog, I think you said something to the effect of, balanced literacy has lots of definitions. But find me a balanced literacy teacher who does not teach kids to do things like look at the first letter, look at the picture, think of something that makes sense, and use sounding out as a last resort. Find me a balanced literacy teacher who doesn't do that because I haven't found one. I don't know if you've found one, but-
Anna Geiger: No, I don't think I have.
Emily Hanford: That's what I started to realize is that's such a core idea. It's so foundational here. And so many of the other things that are a part of balanced literacy rest on that idea or a cousin of that idea.
So in 2019, "At a Loss for Words" was the thing that I think started to freak a lot of people out.
Anna Geiger: Yes, because it was attacking the foundation. Because that's what I really feel when people become interested in the science of reading, they'll say, "I don't know where to start. I want to learn about this." What I've started to tell people is really they're afraid they have to relearn everything.
Emily Hanford: Yeah. But they don't necessarily.
Anna Geiger: Yeah, yeah. It starts with the foundation. It starts with understanding how reading works, and if you start with three-cueing, then everything else, it just falls apart. But if you understand how reading works and then you build on that, it all comes together, and it all makes sense.
We thought we knew what we were doing with balanced literacy, but so much of it is questions. There was a lot of fluff. We certainly would not have called it that, but looking back, that's what I would say.
Maybe you've heard me say this before, I've shared this. I was in a Facebook group asking for people to respond, "How would you respond to this article?" Because I was ready to write a response. What you wrote had to be wrong because that's certainly not what I learned in grad school.
I was really surprised that a bunch of people were like, "Oh yeah, I'm not doing that anymore. I've read these books, blah, blah, blah."
One person who was very big in the guided reading movement, a top seller on TPT, that kind of thing, she said, "Finding out that MSV (three-cueing) is bad for kids is like finding out that your only child is a serial killer."
It's so insane, but I really understood that because you hold it so close. To find out that that could be wrong, you think about all the students you've taught and what were you doing?
Emily Hanford: I had a similar thing someone sent me a message on Twitter saying, "Discovering that three-cueing isn't right is like walking into a church and realizing there's no God."
Anna Geiger: It was earth-shattering! Yeah.
So tell me about the responses that you got to the article. Obviously, there were a lot of positive, but of course, there were negative. You must have to have a really thick skin. How did all that work?
Emily Hanford: I think my skin has gotten thicker. It's true, I have had to have a thick skin, but I don't know, I guess maybe I was born to be a journalist. There's a way in which a lot of it can roll off because I can see where it's coming from, and I'm empathetic in many cases from where it's coming from.
So sometimes when people are attacking me, I get it. I understand. I've talked to enough teachers who have said the kinds of things that we were just talking about. I know how hard this is, so I have empathy and sympathy.
Maybe this doesn't really sound right, but this at this point I really have read a lot. I'm not saying I know everything. I am not a researcher. I don't know everything, and I have tons of questions.
There's lots of questions that we get to think about like, "Well how do you really do this right?" I think there's LOTS of stuff still to be figured out.
If people are thinking, "Oh, the science of reading, we got this!" No, I don't think so, at a number of levels, including just how to do things at scale.
But I guess I started to get to a point where I realized my own knowledge of this stuff was getting deep enough and wide enough that I started to feel pretty confident about it. And I say that humbly because all of us need to be continuing to question our own conclusions or assumptions or beliefs. I learned new things all the time!
I guess I just got to a point where the criticism, for the most part, didn't bother me that much, and I learn from it. I'm really interested in reading the criticism. There's a lot of criticism I read, and I try not to respond. Sometimes I do respond, we all have weaknesses, there's been occasions when I've responded and I think, "Oh darn, I shouldn't have done that." You engage and get into a sort of argument with someone on Twitter or whatever it's called now. Too bad. Anyway. So, yeah, I suppose you do have to have a thick skin. It can be a bang up, messy, dirty, very nasty world out there.
Anna Geiger: Yeah. It's been a few years now, so I don't really remember exactly what happened or how I shared it, but when I started to understand all these things I realized there were some things on my website that I couldn't share anymore, but that people really liked and that had been on there for years. I had put out an email like, "I'm taking these down, you have until this amount of time, but here's why."
I did have some angry people basically telling me that I was getting on the science of reading train like I was just doing it to make money or because that's what everybody else was doing. They said you're just jumping on the bandwagon like everybody else, or someone told me the science of reading was a conspiracy theory, or it's very disappointing to see that you've drunk the Kool-Aid too, things like that.
Probably back then, that was more upsetting to me than it would be now. But like you said, when you studied it enough to know that I feel that I understand this and I'm ready to learn what's the next thing, it's less upsetting.
Emily Hanford: Yeah. Anna, I think someone like you is among the toughest positions, right? You had a website, you had made part of your profession and your living off of some of these ideas, and that I think is the heart of it.
When people ask me why is there resistance, I think, "Well, if you're someone who didn't just do balanced literacy, but you had some skin in the game of promoting it and getting it out there, that's difficult."
So I applaud you for being willing to be like, "I've got to look at this, and I've got to take some things down from my website, and I've got to explain why. I have a responsibility to help people understand why I see some things differently, and I'm going to explain that."
You're a really good writer, and you've done a great job explaining some of that stuff. I feel like you're a really good translator of some of this for the balanced literacy teachers.
I appreciate that, and I recognize that that's one of the hardest categories of people to be in at this point, to have to say, "Whoops, I really made a mistake, and I've been selling some things and I'm not going to sell them anymore. I'm going to change." It's tough.
Anna Geiger: Yeah. Oh, it was. It was very hard.
I've told people too, that when I first learned about this and I got in the Science of Reading Facebook group, I could only be there for ten minutes a day. I felt sick because it was so much new information.
I had a course all about teaching reading that I had written with someone else. It was ten modules, like twenty hours of video, and it was all balanced literacy. It was a balanced literacy course. I closed it for a year.
I got a plaque that says, "Trust," and put it on my wall. I'm just going to trust that God is going to help me figure this out this year because I don't know how to do this yet. And then I spent a whole year studying, researching, and then I put out a new version of the course.
I feel good about that now, but it was very scary. I'm so glad I'm past that.
Emily Hanford: Well, it was scary, and it was a huge amount of work too, right?
I think one of the questions you wanted to talk about was resistance. I think that's it too. I think people resist this because it's too challenging to open yourself to it, and because it's actually a lot of work once you realize it. You had to rewrite your course, and many teachers have to rethink a lot of things about how they teach. It's hard!
Anna Geiger: Yeah, and it's fear too. I don't know if I can do this, what if I don't get it right? And then also it's just really hard to accept that something you really were sure was right, was wrong.
Also that you were getting your information from the wrong place. I used to think that if I just read these people's books, then I'll know. But I didn't realize that, I don't know where they were getting it from, but it wasn't from the research. I was just trusting them. You've talked about that too, trusting personalities versus what the research studies say.
Emily Hanford: Yeah. I don't know if you've heard this too. I'm curious about this because one of the things that I hear from a lot of teachers is a gut level feeling that maybe something wasn't quite right. Because at least for those teachers that are in the classroom, there are always a few students or maybe several students every year that weren't getting it.
So much of the time, teachers blame themselves, "Well, it's me. I'm not good enough. I'm not doing balanced literacy well enough. I just need to buy more books, spend my own money on professional development, take a week out of my summer to go to a workshop." They tried really, really hard.
What many teachers said to me was, "I was blaming myself and still it wasn't working," and so they started to blame the kids and blame the families, and they had a gut level feeling something was wrong.
I think that's actually one of the reasons that people can start to accept this so quickly, because even though it's challenging and difficult, it makes a lot of sense. A lot of things click and you can say, "Oh, right, that's why! That's why those kids were struggling. That's why that wasn't working."
It comes as a mixture. We have this sort of mixture of sadness and grief, but also relief, excitement, and opportunity. "Oh, whoa, whoa! This is maybe part of the answer. This is maybe part of something I've been looking for without knowing that it was there or not even knowing I was looking for it exactly."
Anna Geiger: Yes, that is all true. I think there were two parts to it when I would have some kids who struggled. One was, well they just need more practice with their leveled books. We've just got to do more of it.
The other thing was that I think I felt like there was this information that wasn't for me. It was for the specialist, like the person who understands dyslexia. That was beyond what I could understand. I didn't realize that any teacher could understand that; it's not that complicated. But I just didn't. I just thought, "Well, you just need to get them tested. I wouldn't know what to do."
Emily Hanford: Right. I've heard that too, it very much becomes a thing, "Well, special ed will deal with that. The interventionist will deal with that." The classroom teacher has twenty five or thirty other kids there, so it was kind of a sensible response.
Anna Geiger: Yeah, and there's just so much to understanding how to do proper assessment. There's so many things we could talk about.
Then the other thing you said about how when people talk about learning about the science of reading after being a balanced literacy teacher, it feels like you sort of go through the stages of grief. The last stage of grief is acceptance, but in this one it's excitement, because it really does get you there! It is. It's so exciting!
For years I had been thinking I'd like to go get more continuing education, but I didn't know what I should do. Then once I learned about this, I went to Mount St. Joseph and got their science of reading grad certificate because I just couldn't wait! I still feel that way. There's just so much more to learn. I just keep learning as much as I can.
So you've been a speaker all over the place, and then of course I'm sure you've had lots of emails and things from people, but what do you think it takes for a school or a district to make a shift?
Emily Hanford: It's so interesting. I get asked this question a lot. I am not an educator. I am not a school district leader. I am not a policymaker. So in some ways, my answer is, "I don't really know. That's not really what I know."
Then sometimes I answer the question because people ask it, and then I think, "Oh geez, Emily, you shouldn't have answered that one. What do YOU know?" It's sort of out of my lane.
I guess the only thing I can talk about is what I'm learning from other people along the way. What does it take? As a journalist, I'm hoping maybe there will be a season two of "Sold a Story," and I feel like a big question of season two of "Sold a Story" will be like, "Okay, so what's working? What's not and why? How do you take this stuff to scale?"
This is hard. Superintendents and principals and state senators have their jobs because... Those are different jobs, it takes different expertise. Getting this stuff to scale is hard.
One of the things that I'm thinking more and more about, and I don't know if you're thinking about this too. I do think the more and more you investigate this question of reading and how to teach it, and you get into some of the importance of explicit instruction and direct instruction, it raises lots of questions about how lots of things are taught in elementary school and older. Really getting this reading stuff right, of course, is going to take a rethinking of a lot of the other elements of education.
I mean I've really been focused on, how are little kids at the beginning of learning to read being taught how to read the words? That is a teeny, little part of what it takes to be a truly literate and educated person which requires you to have good reading skills and requires you to get those word reading skills down, but requires so much more stuff to happen in your education and in your life.
I think a lot of American schools need to look at themselves in the mirror about what they're doing in a lot of areas, what they're doing to help the struggling readers when they're older, what they're doing when they're teaching science and social studies and math, how they're teaching it, what they're teaching.
Of course, all of that gets us into potentially contentious questions. Think about the time that we live in. I think one of the reasons that in the United States of America, we have sort of taken a pass on too much saying, "Well, here's what kids need to learn. Here's the "what" of it, here's the stuff, here's the knowledge they need to know." Because that gets us right to value questions and political questions. Questions that can easily become politicized and that ARE becoming politicized.
Anna Geiger: I know, just like phonics!
Emily Hanford: Right now! All the time! So this is difficult stuff. Again, this is the job of the policymakers and the school leaders, and they have a hard job.
Anna Geiger: Yeah. And for the regular classroom teacher, I think one thing to do is to share your articles and say, "Maybe can we sit and talk about this?"
That was what did it for me. Especially when you interviewed Margaret Goldberg, that was really what cinched it for me, like "Oh, she talked to a teacher. Bummer. Now, I have to really pay attention."
That was just super interesting the way she had taught some kids to read using three-cueing and some with... Nowadays, it'd be really hard to do a study like that because we know how bad that would be, so we don't want to damage any kids. But she figured it out.
Emily Hanford: Margaret's amazing too, if people on the podcast don't know Margaret. She's continued to be someone who I learn from all the time. She's got a great website and a blog, and it's very insightful, as you are, on the journey from being a balanced literacy teacher to learning how to do it differently.
Anna Geiger: Yes, I really look up to her. In fact I put the interview I gave with her last year at the beginning of this series because she's such a good example of someone who can speak about this in a kind and loving way, which is hard to do. Once you start to feel passionate about it, it's hard to be patient with people who aren't as far as you are. I think it's good to first remember we all started somewhere.
Emily Hanford: Totally. That's an element of all this because the stakes are high, and we know that once you do know this stuff, people get passionate about it and they see the consequences when kids aren't being taught well. The consequences are high.
So when you're a teacher, and I think especially when you're a parent, oh, and ESPECIALLY if you're a teacher who's a parent of a struggling reader, you can't look away from this. When other people resist it, you feel the consequences of that, so there's an urgency. So I take that with a grain of salt too.
I see real anger from the science of reading side on social media, but I try to be empathetic about that too. I get it, I get it, but everyone also at the end of the day needs to take a big old deep breath and be like, "All right. What's the goal here?"
The goal is to help more kids be better readers, and there's a lot of work to do here. So how do we work together? Not in a how do we work together Pollyanna kind of way like, "Oh, we can just do a little bit of everything!" because I think that's how we got where we are today. I think balanced literacy was trying to be a truce, but it wasn't a truce based on the best evidence, and there were really fundamental problems with balanced literacy.
As you have said many times, a balanced literacy teacher is not doing everything wrong and comes to this with the greatest of intentions, but really needs to understand that the foundation of balanced literacy was really faulty. We've got to acknowledge that and fix it.
Anna Geiger: Yeah. Well thank you so much for all that you've done and continue to do.
Is there anything else you want to share with us, future projects or anything you're open to discussing or places you'll be speaking?
Emily Hanford: Oh, goodness gracious, I don't know, we could probably talk forever. But no, I'm assuming this is going out to an audience of a lot of teachers, and I am just so grateful to teachers for the work they do because I recognize how hard this is.
Actually, I've kind of been trying to learn something about how to help kids learn to read and then maybe am going to be tutoring some kids. And man, is it hard! Margaret's helping me and it's hard stuff.
I think this is difficult for teachers because teachers have hard jobs and they're not appreciated enough and not paid well enough, and they've got to do a lot of other things besides teaching kids how to read. And so, bless all of you for doing the hard work and staying in the profession.
Anna Geiger: Ditto. I agree 100%. Even when my kids were younger, our youngest is now seven, but even when a bunch of them were really small, I always said that I felt less tired after day with all six of them than I did after a day in the classroom.
Emily Hanford: In the classroom. Oh, gosh. Sure.
Anna Geiger: Yeah. Teaching first and second grade, they have a lot of energy and there are just a lot of decisions you have to make every day.
Emily Hanford: Think about that, people. If you're not a teacher, it's the same thing. I was so exhausted with just TWO children, and I can't even imagine how exhausting it would be to have twenty-five.
Anna Geiger: Yeah. It takes special patience and love to do that day after day.
Well, thank you again. I can't wait to share this with teachers and give them more tools to share because all of your work is excellent for starting conversations.
Emily Hanford: Thank you. It's great to talk to you. Thanks for having me!
Anna Geiger: You can find the show notes for today's episode at themeasuredmom.com/episode140. There I will share links to all of Emily's work, as well as many other podcasts where she's been a guest, and maybe, if I can find them, some presentations on YouTube because I know you'll want to keep learning from her.
Thanks so much for listening, and I'll talk to you again next time!
Closing: That's all for this episode of Triple R Teaching. For more educational resources, visit Anna at her home base, themeasuredmom.com and join our teaching community. We look forward to helping you reflect, refine, and recharge on the next episode of Triple R Teaching.
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Emily Hanford’s journalism about the science of reading
Emily Hanford’s other podcast interviews
- Science of Reading: the Podcast
- Literacy Talks
- Melissa and Lori Love Literacy
- Teaching, Reading, & Learning
- Leading Literacy
Emily Hanford’s presentations on YouTube
- Unpacking the science of reading so all kids can learn
- Solving America’s literacy crisis with the science of reading (with Kareem Weaver and Kymyona Burk)
- What teachers should know about the science of reading
- Closing keynote (Michigan Department of Education)
- Sold a Story (an interview, not the original podcast series)
- Eyes on Reading: A conversation with Emily Hanford, Creator of Sold a Story
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