Not everyone knows that OG stands for Orton-Gillingham. Not everyone knows that OG stands for the original riot girls. I only learned the latter this weekend when I read an article about Feminism and Punk in The New York Times.
We take it that everyone knows that OG stands for Orton-Gillingham, but perhaps there are a few people out there who think of feminism and punk when they see those initials. The point is that the landscape of our reading world is complicated and we forget that not everybody speaks our language. If we want to empower more parents and others to help all kids learn to read, we need to decode our world.
An Honorary Doctorate in the World of Reading
The other day I showed somebody a Facebook graphic I created to spread awareness of the importance of universal screening. The simple image listed the major categories of skills tested in universal screening for risk of reading issues. The aim was to spread the information to parents and other “non-reading specialists” so they could understand what language and reading skills screenings test.
We have a small to modest Facebook following where we posted the graphic. The post was one of our most successful, reaching several thousand viewers. We were pleased that the graphic spread awareness beyond “the choir,” but what we learned is we are so deeply entrenched in the choir, that we mostly reached other members of our tribe! When I showed a “typical” person outside of our world the graphic they had no clue what the critical skills that we listed for risk of reading issues meant.
Parents Need a Glossary to Navigate the World of Reading
I want to think that as an organization with professionals from different walks of life, we do an excellent job of speaking in plain English. I recently realized that after years as a parent learning everything I could about how we learn to read, good instruction and interventions, and who the influencers are, I had lost sight of where I was a few years ago when I would have Googled what deletion tasks are or what the acronyms in RAN mean. Whether I received an invitation or not, I am in the choir, even singing in performances, but that’s not where we belong. We need to consider that OG means original riot grrls for lots of people!
An Inclusive Choir
To function and create change in how our kids are taught to read, we shouldn’t need the equivalent of a Ph.D. to navigate the landscape and keep up with all of the semantics. We do not need to bring parents and others into the choir; we need to make the choir more inclusive and start reaching all of the parents, and other advocates who want to help.
I am so glad that someone gave us a wake-up call since the only way we can spread the word to all of the parents and stakeholders outside of our world is to start from the beginning, and to provide clear paths and clear directions.
It’s not easy to create change, although it’s harder to do nothing at all. Many of us have seen the progress that parents have made in other states, but so many people are still alone in their struggles. There’s no easy or quick way to increase awareness and educate everyone who needs the knowledge. It’s a one-step-at-a-time. Tell other parents especially parents with kids who are struggling to read what they need to know. Tell your pediatrician. Tell your friend. It won’t solve the world’s issues, but it will spread awareness. Education is power, and none of us deserve to feel powerless.