BA, BEd (Primary), Grad Cert Special Ed (Learning Difficulties)
Trainer and School Partnerships Officer
Carina McSweeney taught in public schools for 20 years, including 10 in learning support, before joining MultiLit as a Trainer and Schools Partnerships Officer.
Learn more about her role with MultiLit.
How long have you worked for MultiLit?
I celebrated my first anniversary working for MultiLit in January 2022.
What inspired you to get into education?
I had been working in research and sales in a film and photo library, and having just had my first child, I was open to a career change. I was initially inspired to train in primary education to be able to share my love of the visual arts and literature with children.
Tell us a bit about your background and experience
My teaching career spanned 20 years, including 10 years as a learning support teacher and coordinator across two schools. When I first started working with the children who were struggling with reading, I realised I had a lot more to learn about literacy difficulties, so I devoted myself to reading about reading and took every professional learning opportunity. I also returned to Macquarie University for some more formal postgrad study in special education and learning difficulties.
I gained knowledge and confidence to lead professional development within my schools and in the wider network on dyslexia, autism and other support needs and I worked closely with the students and their teachers in mainstream classrooms. Confronted by the large numbers of children struggling with reading, spelling and writing, I was motivated to establish and teach the MacqLit and MiniLit programs for intervention, and committed myself to supporting my colleagues locally and in wider networks to learn more about evidence-based literacy instruction in the classroom.
During this time, it was alarmingly obvious to me that school leaders and teachers (those with years of experience and also the new graduates) in too many schools were yet to fully embrace or even be made aware of the research that would ensure better literacy learning for all students.
In my own schools, I advocated for the staff to learn more about effective literacy instruction and mentored those who were keen to learn more with me. There were some successes and some frustrations along the way, and eventually I made a big decision to move on. I was fortunate to be offered a position at MultiLit where I could do even more to support the teachers – and ultimately more students – with reading instruction.
What are some of the key responsibilities of your role?
As a Trainer with the School Partnerships team, I deliver the full-day and two-day workshops for schools taking on any of the MultiLit literacy programs. The school leaders, teachers and support staff in our workshops are skilled up to understand the research base, the effective assessment and explicit instructional approaches to deliver the programs successfully. In this role, I enjoy the responsibility of delivering training, either via videoconference or in face-to-face settings, and really love the opportunity to share my experiences in as much as I can empathise with the challenges teachers face. It’s a particular joy and a privilege to go into schools to deliver InitiaLit training for those schools that are working towards their whole school approach to improve their instruction for all students.
Another key responsibility is to ensure teachers are supported beyond the training days and to develop our partnerships with schools to facilitate their ongoing successful implementation of MultiLit programs. I regularly consult with principals and others in school leadership, and I provide responsive and professional support pre- and post-training. I’m an administrator of the vibrant InitiaLit Community Facebook group and am actively engaged in other online communities where I can further indulge my passion for sharing good information to help teachers teach reading.
What’s one thing you wish more people knew about literacy?
More people need to know about the way the brain learns to read, so that all children receive effective instruction that actually works! There are so many freely available articles, videos and webinars online for teachers (and parents) to learn from the science, explained beautifully by experts such as Stanislas Dehaene and Maryanne Wolf and others, including our own Dr Jennifer Buckingham via Five from Five. It’s fascinating and potentially life-changing stuff!