When she got super worried, Myrna McCulloch sometimes called Oma Riggs for advice. After answering her questions, Oma always said, “Don’t worry: If your teachers only do half of this stuff right, their students will still learn ten times more than every other kid their age is learning.” And McCulloch soon learned that Riggs was more than right.
When I first heard this, I was super relieved. Since I am a slow learner, and since I knew nothing at all about this program when I needed to start teaching it, and since there were no training classes available at that time, I had been petrified. I needed to know that I wasn’t going to ruin my students while I fumbled my way into learning how to help them with this method. Hearing this advice from Myrna McCulloch and Oma Riggs calmed my nerves--it lifted a huge load off of my shoulders, and it freed me to simply start working. I’ve never regretted that.
So don’t panic. Yes, a training class would be wonderful for you, and I highly recommend one, but trust Oma Riggs and Myrna McCulloch. They know what they are talking about when they encourage you to pick up the book and start teaching. They’ve seen it work again and again.
You don’t have to be a Master Riggs Teacher before you can start using this program to make a significant positive difference in the lives of your students, and you’ll never be one if you don’t get started on your own path to learning. So get going. You can do it. And the Riggs Institute exists for the purpose of helping you when you get stuck.
And that’s the bottom line. Because this program is so powerful, your students will grow if you only get half of it right.
If you can’t take a Riggs training class right now, don’t worry. By studying our Level I Teacher’s Edition--working your way through the lessons as though you were both a teacher and a student--you can learn how to teach it effectively. Begin at the beginning, that’s all. You can order our training manual and follow our six-day study outline if you wish, or you can just begin with the first lesson and go for it. However you do it, do one lesson at a time and be sure your students understand each of the concepts as you go along, even though they may need to keep practicing to reach mastery. Build each of the recommended charts by creating a personal Riggs Reference Notebook before you start. Create this running record of all that you are learning--and will teach--about the English language: you won’t be sorry. Just start at the beginning and teach yourself the program by building your own Reference Notebook.
If you can get a partner to help you practice, that’s even better. (We do a lot of practicing in our workshops.) But make do with whatever you have.
Creating your own Reference Notebook is a powerful learning exercise that will give you a finished model of what your students will have learned by the end of the year. You want that. If your goal is to master the method, this is an excellent way to begin. And since building the Reference Notebook is a big part of what teachers do in our training seminars, we highly recommend it.
If you simply can’t build a Reference Notebook before starting, then do the next best thing: stay ahead of your students and simply begin. It may not be the ideal way to begin, but it’s ten time betters than not beginning at all. So relax. Don’t worry. Just start.
While attending an official Riggs training seminar would of course be best because you could practice with your fellow teachers in our workshop, and while building your Reference Notebook before beginning to teach your students would be second best, we can’t always have what is best. It’s not always possible. Just do what you can, and call us if you need help, and build your own Riggs Reference Notebook as quickly as possible. This will help you understand and explain the English spelling system like nothing else can. It will help you teach basic sentence structure. It will help you teach grammar and syntax concepts. And much, much more. The Riggs Reference Notebook contains an enormous amount of useful information about the English language.
Finishing the Reference Notebook--building all the charts (graphic organizers) and entering all the Spelling-Vocabulary words--will get you comfortable with the program and enable you to answer the “why” questions of your students. It will make you a better teacher, and it will help you to enjoy the ride.
So don’t rush. But do study. We’re here to help whenever you call us, but you must begin the work. And you can do it. The Riggs Institute's teaching text will help you stay on track with its Skills and Performance Checklists.
Just take one day at a time, do your best, learn as you go, and carry on. Nobody can ask you for more than that. Teach your students to practice thoughtfully, carefully, diligently, and effectively. And do the same. Teach them to ask questions, to analyze, to think. Make each moment count, have fun with your students, and don’t worry about making a mistake. You’ll definitely make lots of them, and you’ll continue to grow. Take a training class if and when you can, yes, but do begin. Allow yourself to be a student of the method, and give yourself permission to grow as you go.