October is Dyslexia Awareness Month.
When I first started teaching, I’m not even sure I knew what dyslexia was. I took all the required college courses to teach secondary English, I did all of my practicum and student teaching, but dyslexia was never discussed.
I heard of Orton-Gillingham during my second or third year of teaching because one of the teachers in my building used it with her resource students. She knew I was going for my Reading Specialist certification and mentioned that I should take her place when she retires. At the time, I figured I’d be totally prepared to teach those kids because I would be a specialist.
Well, I was definitely wrong.
I live in NJ and have taught in public and charter schools in the state. We have amazing schools.
I have never had professional development through a school that included dyslexia.
I have never worked with a special education teacher to address dyslexic students in my gen. ed classroom.
I have a masters degree in Curriculum/Reading and a NJ and MI Reading Specialist certification, but I was never taught how to help students with dyslexia.
This is a problem.
For the last year and a half I have dived into the world of dyslexia. I started my Orton-Gillingham training online through Orton Gillingham Online Academy, which has been amazing. I can work at my own pace, ask questions in the Facebook group, and have access to incredible materials.
Over the summer I attended webinars through Learning Ally that focused on supporting dyslexic students in the classroom.
As an educator, I’m being open minded. I’m realizing that even at the middle school level we need to be addressing dyslexia in our schools. We need to realize that phonics and learning to read don’t stop in elementary school. We need to stop being afraid to say ‘dyslexia’. We need to train our teachers on what dyslexia looks like and how to help our dyslexic students.
But how do we do that?
By bringing awareness. Dyslexia is not just letters getting jumbled up when a person is reading. It is so, so much more. We need to talk about it. We need educate our teachers about it. We need to stop being afraid of it.