Donna Metlicka


Gradual Release

Donna Metlicka’s office is decorated with her children’s colorful pre-school artwork and posters promoting education, particularly reading. She speaks from the experience of 10 years teaching in elementary schools when she tells her students today (the teachers of tomorrow) that they must continually practice the “gradual release of responsibility.”


Five Steps of the Gradual Release of Responsibility:

  • To model, show
  • Shared work
  • Interactive
  • Guided
  • Independent
    (Model of instruction developed by Pearson and Gallagher, 1983)


“You can’t skip steps. I use the example of riding a bike. It’s absurd to think you can show a child how to ride once, then hand them the bike and say ‘go ahead,’” Metlicka explains. “Research show us that a methodical approach to learning is usually very successful.”

“It’s all about seeing the progress, seeing the light bulb go on, seeing a student realize, ‘I can do this!’”Metlicka is an assistant professor of education and teaches literacy, reading methods and diagnostic reading. She earned a doctorate from Northern Illinois University .


Greatest Challenge

Perhaps the greatest challenge in education today, says Metlicka, is teaching students while meeting the requirements of No Child Left Behind. Teachers at every level are trying to balance testing and good instruction. “We need to look more holistically at students and teachers. Creativity, effectiveness, the love of learning—these are some of the things that teachers, and students, should be judged on.”

“The reason to be a teacher is to make a difference in the world,” Metlicka says. “When I go to work everyday, I have to know that I’m doing something to make a difference in lives, to change the world. I don’t know how anybody can do anything else.”


Beach and a Good Book

With three children, aged 10, 8 and 2 and two rescued Newfoundland dogs at home, Metlicka often longs for the “tranquility of the beach, the sounds, smells, the textures. I love everything about it.” ( Miami Beach is her absolute favorite, she adds.)

She also loves life as swim mom and playing on coed softball and volleyball teams with her husband. Just about every week includes a gathering of extended family.

And, of course, she loves reading. “I don’t have a favorite book; I have a few favorites. Mostly I read junior high novels and young adult literature so I can make recommendations to my students.” Her recommendations: Milkweed, The Giver, and Fever 1793 .

Dr. Metlicka can be reached at

Dr. Metlicka teaches:

  • Diagnostic Teaching Techniques & Materials
  • Assessment Procedures & Diagnosis of Reading Disabilities
  • Methods of Teaching Reading/Language Arts in the Elementary School
  • Children’s and Middle School Literature