MOORE Thinking And Learning To Do

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to tune in virtually to a little of Shelley Moore‘s presentation that she gave to some educators in our Board and in a neighbouring Board. This is the first time that I’ve listened to Shelley outside of her amazing YouTube channel videos and book club posts on Instagram, and I’ve decided that I could hear her talk a million times over and I would still learn something new. She’s engaging and funny and truly makes you think. This Instagram post sums up my thinking on a Friday afternoon.

It’s actually the top quote in this post that I’ve returned to frequently in less than 24 hours.

As many of my blog readers know, when I was in Grade 2, I was identified with a non-verbal learning disability in visual spatial skills. Even at that young age, I knew that I wanted to be a teacher. It was my dream, my goal, my everything. I will forever remember that psychologist, who told my parents that I would never make it to university, as my needs were too great. Thanks to the support of my parents — both in education — and some wonderful teachers, who helped me capitalize on my strengths and accommodate for my needs, I did reach my university and teaching goals. Now I realize that my learning needs might not be as challenging as some, but they are needs that could have stopped learning and restricted growth without the right programming and accommodations.

This takes me back to Shelley’s comment that, “There’s no curriculum expectation that says you have to write a test, write an essay, or make a diorama.” When I was in elementary school, there was no talk of differentiated instruction (DI) or Universal Design for Learning (UDL), but I thankfully benefitted from educators who were considering both approaches. I still remember one of my favourite teachers: Miss B. She saw my potential in writing, and she nurtured it. As others completed art projects to show thinking and learning, I wrote books. This doesn’t mean that I never drew pictures or made dioramas — I feel as though these were even a thing back then — but this educator knew that I could explain more in a different way, and she let me do so. She helped me succeed. Just as she let other students draw, paint, or build instead: we all needed something different to do our best. Miss B’s focus here was on the curriculum expectations and the students, and not just on the task.

I share this story, for in my current role as a Reading Specialist, I’ve been asked to join one of the Grade 1 classes on Tuesday afternoon. I’m going to be planning and facilitating a literacy lesson with the support of the classroom teacher. This past week, I got to work with this educator to help with some initial assessments, so that we could reflect on the data together.

Knowing the learners will definitely help me when planning this literacy opportunity. I had some ideas that have been spinning around in my head since this teacher approached me, but then I returned to Shelley’s words. Do all students need to do the same thing? What is the “potato” component (something they all need), and how might the toppings vary?

As a kindergarten teacher, this is something that my teaching partner, Paula, and I reflected on regularly. Now it’s time to bring this same thinking into my new role with grades beyond just kindergarten, while engaging in conversations with educators that come from this approach. Thank you, Shelley, for inadvertently having me re-think my plan for Tuesday. Your target audience for Friday’s talk might have been Learning Resource Teachers, but your presentation was a good reminder for me that all of us really need to be thinking about programming, learning, and success for ALL. I wouldn’t be a teacher today if it wasn’t for an educator who did just that.


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