The Business of Being a Literacy Leader

International Reading Association members have now had a chance to digest (or peruse) their journal or online Sept/Oct subscriptions. Marie Craig Post references significant changes in the International Reading Association and reports the questions/concerns raised at the leadership conference (The Business of Leading) that I was attending with 114 other International Reading Association leaders across 38 other provinces/states this summer in Florida. Many of these changes in demographics of IRA members and different styles of professional engagement, you are seeing unfold in your own communities. For some of you, the most significant changes will be outlined during the International Reading Association Conference in St. Louis from July 17-20, 2015 as the IRA strives to keep up with the pace of change. Hopefully moving the conference to summer and removing Teacher on Call costs from the equation, will assist more IRA members in attending the 60th Anniversary IRA 2015 Conference. Mark the date and start planning to get there. It will be worth it!

As the BC Provincial Coordinator of the International Reading Association, I work with IRA members in the province to make connections with head office and other councils.  I encourage you to visit the International Reading Association Head Office website in order to learn more about the organization and become an IRA member.  The IRA offers several Grants and Awards to IRA members.  The deadline has been extended to January 15, 2015.  Members in British Columbia, go to ReadingBC to learn more about opportunities for IRA members to support literacy in our province.

Transforming Lives Through Literacy

The International Reading Association, like many organizations, is experiencing challenges due to retirement of baby boomers, the downturn in many economies, and competing interests for the time of literacy educators.  Although the name is changing to The International Literacy Association, reading remains at the core of the mission and purpose.  The broader term “literacy” has the advantage of being less reductive and reflects the reality that literacy professionals deal with a cluster of skills that also include speaking, listening, writing, and presenting.

The Mission

The mission of the International Reading Association is to promote reading by continuously advancing the quality of literacy instruction and research worldwide.

The Goals

Professional Development

  • Enhance the professional development of reading educators worldwide
  • Organize and support IRA Councils and Affiliates as networks of reading educators
  • Promote a broad view of literacy
  • Help educators to improve the quality of literacy instruction through publications and conferences
  • Prepare educators to assume different roles as reading professionals
  • Provide leadership in the continuously changing nature of reading in a digital age

Advocacy

Advocate for research, policy, and practices that support the best interests of all learners and reading professionals

  • Foster life-long literacy habits
  • Promote high quality teacher and student learning to improve reading instruction
  • Keep policy makers informed about IRA’s positions
  • Develop policy and position statements
  • Provide members with background information and resources
  • Collaborate with national and international policy makers

Partnership

  • Establish and strengthen national and international alliances with a wide range of organizations
  • Work with governmental, nongovernmental, and community agencies; businesses, industries, and donors
  • Develop and support IRA councils and affiliates around the world
  • Collaborate with a range of partners on long-term efforts to improve literacy

The British Columbia Literacy Council of IRA (BCLCIRA, more commonly known as Readingbc) has just passed a slate of dedicated International Reading Association members to carry on the work in British Columbia from the ranks of public schools, private schools and retired teachers.  We’re particularly pleased to welcome Mike Bowden, to bring the voice of teachers in Central BC to our provincial council.  The latest coup of this IRA council has been to secure the commitment of Kristen Ziemke, co-author of Connecting Comprehension & Technology:  Adapt and Extend Toolkit Practices to present at our fall conference on Oct. 24th, 2014 – provincial professional development day in British Columbia.  Her presentation & book, co-authored by Stephanie Harvey, Anne Goudvis and Katie Muhtaris, was very well received at the IRA AGM this past May.

In my capacity as provincial coordinator, I will be attending an intensive multi-day program in Tampa from July 10-13, which is designed to provide Council Leaders with training in the areas of governance, finance, advocacy and strategic planning.