Ms. Kostandos believes that the goals and expectations of classroom activities and lessons should be made clear to students. "I think it's important that kids have a purpose to what they're learning -- a reason why they're learning it. We talk about that a lot: 'why are we spending time on this?'" Explicit teaching, according to Ms. Kostandos, helps students to reflect on their own learning process, and to develop good judgment about when they can work on their own and when they need help.
Trained as a reading specialist, Ms. Kostandos says she tries to keep up with the latest techniques in teaching literacy. "It's important as a teacher to pick and choose what feels really right -- because there is so much out there." She draws on the work of Irene Gaskins and Patricia Cunningham for her explicit phonics instruction and Marie Clay for her assessment of students. She is also influenced by First Steps, the literacy program adopted by her district, which stresses a release of responsibility to students. She is the school's First Steps tutor.