The debate on how to teach early reading has raged for a century. But for the last few decades, the cognitive science has been clear: Teaching young kids how to crack the code—teaching systematic phonics—is the most reliable way to make sure that they learn how to read words.

Education Week interviewed longtime reading teachers caught in the evolving landscape of literacy instruction to ask what it was like for them to move from a familiar strategy for teaching reading to “science of reading”-based approaches to instruction. They described being handed a mashup of literacy curriculums over the years ranging from methods heavy on balanced literacy heavy to a “hodgepodge” of strategies that left them feeling insecure about their instructional ability and uncomfortable about students who left their classrooms without a strong reading foundation.

They also revealed how, after years of teaching reading, they’ve recently embraced a more systematic and explicit method of instruction that finally has them feeling confident in their teaching roles.