EVERYDAY HEROES: Prof starts literacy podcast, directs reading centers

Tobi Thompson conducts professional development. Thompson's literacy education podcast," That's Why We Read," launched July 6, on Spotify.

Northeastern State University Department of Curriculum and Instruction Reading Program Professor Dr. Tobi Thompson launched a podcast to Spotify on July 6, with two other NSU associate professors, Dr. Ingrid Massey and Dr. Sarah Ramsey.

The podcast, which is called "That's Why We Read," will discuss issues and trends in literacy education and how they impact teachers. Thompson said the best practices for teaching children with dyslexia, and how unique assessments can be used to help drive the instruction, will also be a part of the discussion.

She said the amount of work administrators pile on teachers, coupled with federal and state mandates, makes smaller and shorter informational techniques easier for teachers to use.

"Bite-sized professional development is often the best way to reach teachers, as they can listen on their way to school in the morning, or on their lunch break, or after school," said Thompson.

His reasoning for starting the podcast comes from seeing students who are often one to two years behind on reading skills due to the pandemic, and how the public perception of educators is being shaped.

Thompson, a certified dyslexia therapist, is also the director of the Muskogee Reading Clinic and the Cappi Wadley Reading and Technology Center in Tahlequah.

Thompson said getting the Muskogee Reading Clinic off the ground has been difficult, due to the facility's taking a break after the COVID-19 pandemic began and the facility's not having enough workers. Thompson and a graduate assistant are the only tutors there, making the days and times limited for tutoring sessions.

The reason for the limited number of tutors is the lack of interest from students to work in the Muskogee clinic, since most students are on the Tahlequah and Broken Arrow campuses. She said the center needs around 13 tutors to better help the kids coming into the clinic.

For children dealing with reading issues, Thompson said, teachers need to have patience and be willing to try different techniques to help students.

"There is no formula to fix a reading issue. Every reading issue is basically individualized; there's not a single program or curriculum, or bag of tricks that's going to help every single student. It's taking the time to get to know the kiddo, using proper assessments, and analyzing the data accordingly," said Thompson.

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