Why I do What I do

It is my humble opinion that there is NO SUBSTITUTE for a professionally trained teacher who is empowered to make instructional decisions based on a student’s specific strengths and weaknesses (as opposed to diagnosis, special education category, or other “label”). Unfortunately, most teacher preparation programs, including undergraduate and graduate-level programs in general and special education, do not prepare teachers to provide evidence-based instruction for struggling readers and writers. That may seem unbelievable to some people, but the vast majority of teachers and administrators I encounter (myself included) will confirm this state of affairs. So, what to do? Smaller class sizes? More IEPs and 504 plans? Books on tape? Hire curriculum coaches? Buy more books for every classroom? Oh wait…we’ve tried all of those things and none of them have worked. Why? Because none of those “solutions” gets to the heart, or should I say the brain, of the issue. Before we get to that, we need to understand the meanings of two words: teaching and learning. Humans are born with brains that are “ready” to receive spoken communication. As long as we have exposure to spoken language, our brains will learn. If we’re exposed to Spanish, our brains learn the Spanish sound system. If we’re exposed to English, we learn the English sound system. If we’re exposed to Mandarin, we learn the Mandarin sound system. You get the idea. Bottom line…we don’t have to be taught how to speak…we learn from exposure. Most of human history (100,000 years) has been marked by oral communication. On the other hand, written communication is a human invention. About 5,000 years ago, humans began to communicate in writing. At first this took the form of pictograms (hieroglyphics), and eventually (over thousands of years) morphed into an alphabet, which is a set of symbols (which we call letters) used to represent sound and meaning. So, in order to learn how to read, humans must be taught. Let me repeat that as clearly as I can. EVERY PERSON MUST BE TAUGHT IN ORDER TO LEARN HOW TO READ. Some of us figure it out regardless of how we are taught, but that doesn’t make those who need a specific type of instruction are disabled, lazy, unmotivated, or disabled. Hundreds of studies conducted over several decades confirm that the human brain learns to read in exactly ONE way. My goal is to provide the training necessary for teachers to learn how to teach ALL kids how to read.

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