Sharing Our Stories

Today was our monthly Reading Specialist Meeting at the Board. As part of our afternoon session, we watched some of the Right To Read Inquiry Public Hearing.

This video segment is a powerful one, and while we probably watched less than 10 minutes of it, I don’t think that there were any dry eyes in the room. As educators, hearing about this student’s experiences in school and what she needed to be successful really had all of us thinking.

When our PD was over today, I was chatting with another Reading Specialist and one of the consultants. Listening to them discuss a few personal experiences made me realize that so many of us have stories to share. I have one too. I didn’t share all of this story with them at the time, but I have blogged about this before and I decided to do so again in light of this inquiry and Ashley Judge’s story.

My story is not the same as Ashley’s because my struggles were not in reading. I learned to read with ease, and I’ve always loved books. I was an avid reader as a child and as an adult. But as I’ve shared before, when I was in Grade 2, I was identified with a nonverbal learning disability in visual spatial skills. While I was identified with my learning disability well before Ashley was, I was could still connect with much of what she said around academic success and struggles. I was not a child who failed at school.

  • I worked hard, and like Ashley, my grades were often in the B and C range.
  • I had the support of both my mom and my step-dad — two educators — who helped me find strategies that worked, while advocating for me and teaching me how to advocate for myself. Just like Ashley’s mom who sat beside her during this inquiry, my parents were always beside me.
  • I also needed many similar supports to Ashley, including copies of notes and additional time to write tests.
  • Like Ashley as well, with the supports in place, I was successful. I got a couple of scholarships to university, and I continue to live my dream of being a teacher.

Listening to this video today, and then thinking more about Ashley’s story on the drive home, I realized that I had to share this story of mine again. Sometimes, it’s when we share our struggles, when we connect to the importance of accommodating and the success that happens as a result, and when we refocus on kids (from our own childhood experiences to our educator ones now), we see students in a different light.

  • We understand more.
  • We connect more.
  • And we want to try something different because the human element of education changes education.

What are your stories? How do they impact on your views of students, learning, and success for all? It’s hard to listen to Ashley and not be inspired to reflect and to act.


2 thoughts on “Sharing Our Stories

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this. Both Ashley’s story and your own.

    One of the quotes from Ashley that really resonated with me was when she was referencing her desire to reach her own personal potential and how she just knew she hadn’t (yet) had the opportunity – how much that frustrated and hurt her. Ashley shared hearing the sentiment from her schools that “As long as I’m not failing, everything is good”.

    I think the idea of supporting each individual in meeting their own personal potential is such a fundamental, and critically important, frame to work from. Sounds simply, but not always. Opening up doors through context, understanding, supports and accommodations. And this critical framework applies to students currently succeeding at all possible levels.

    I knew a student who ‘on-paper’ was presenting relatively well. Often meeting and sometimes exceeding the expected standards. But they were consistently frustrated and unhappy at school. After some analysis of the situation and putting various accommodations into place – their whole sense of self became calmer and more confident. Ultimately, as Ashley shared, it was about feeling they had the opportunity to meet their own potential.

    Thank you again for sharing your story with all of us. We can learn so much from each other.

    • Thank you so much for sharing your example as well! I really appreciate your comment and the story. I think there’s such value to hearing these stories and understanding how things can change to be positive learning experiences for everyone. I often return to this quote that I heard in a course before: “Know more. Do better.” I wish I could remember who said that. It really resonates with me when it comes to the Science of Reading. As we’re learning more, we now have the opportunity to do better. I’m excited to see the impact that this has on kids.


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