Facing the challenge

Facing the challenge & overcoming circumstances

Imagine, for a minute, you are a ten year old student who doesn’t read well, is in fifth grade, and is struggling with academics, emotions, and fear of the unknown for eight hours a day at school. Imagine being given assignment after assignment, being told to read material, and feeling the angst of not knowing how day after day. Imagine, for a second, how the struggle of defeat day in and out felt for a student in your classroom or school now.

I was that student in fifth grade. I remember that gut wrenching feeling of failure and shame of not really knowing how to read well day in and out. I was tested in elementary school but didn’t really fit the mold of the ranges to be a person with a specific learning disability at first. Through the tears, the worries, the fears, and the trials, my parents didn’t give up. I, on the other hand of ten, wanted to badly.

Days and nights of frustration filled my soul. The lack of confidence, since I didn’t know how to read, engulfed me. I struggled. I needed support and I had just that when I hit rock bottom. My family chose to go outside of the district to have me diagnosed since the school district didn’t and, at that time, found out that I learned slower than peers my age, had Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Specific Learning disabilities, and a slew of other issues. Finally, an answer to the struggles.

These labels didn’t define me though. They give me a reason to fight back along the way. The labels gave me a reason to understand why I learned differently and struggled. The labels and struggles opened the doors for the support I desperately needed. Looking back, I wish the school district would have intervened earlier or had helped sooner. However, this fuels my fire to continue to face the challenge of learning disabilities and barriers along the way.

It took one person to say what I was going through wasn’t okay. It took a team of professionals one opportunity to recognize that what I was going through needed to be remedied. It took time, lots of patience, tutoring, and more patience to allow me to read and be able to understand what I read.

However, no one gave up on me and, for that, I am truly grateful for this notion. There were long hours, frustrations, tears, and struggles. The struggles didn’t magically go away as I encountered middle and high school as well as college. I just learned strategies and self advocacy along the way. I now serve a Special Education teacher. However, the struggles gave me fuel to help others so no one would have to sit in my fifth grade seat and feel like I did to this day.

Fuel the fire (1)

There is always a reason for a trial. Whether we know it now or have to find it along the way, it’s there. It’s unending, undefined (at the moment), and untamed. However, there is a reason somewhere along the way. I never want any student to ever go through what I did and this empowers me to fuel the fire, kindle the flames, and never give up on any student. They deserve more than I received and that’s why I do what I do every day.

 

 

Tell your story: A passion discovered

If you haven’t read part 1 or part 2, click on the links to catch up. 

Uprooted and on a mission to support students where-ever I am planted. Five years ago, I received a call that landed me five hours from my family and my home base. It was an adjustment, for sure, but it changed my world every day. Being able to support students in the classroom has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl. It was something I had dreamed of and now it happened. I started in third, went to second, and found my yearning passion in special education throughout the struggles, meltdowns, and successes each and every day.

Special education has my heart for many reasons. For one, I had a few special education teachers never give up on me. When you have someone in your corner, fighting for your ability to access the curriculum and teach it in a way you understand, it means the world to someone. Secondly, my heart wants to give students the world no matter their difference or disability. Seeing students struggle breaks my own heart and I want to give them the world, strategies, and peace of mind for THEM to do well. All in all, special education allows me to give students the world while teaching them differently.

Every student deserves the world and my passion in special education allows me to support students through their struggles, difficulties, and access to education. Throughout my time in special education, I have found that my heart has etched memories that carry me through the difficult times, the struggles, and the heartbreak. While I am told “I couldn’t do your job” about once a week, this provides me with motivation to reach more students, to support them where they are at, and to facilitate learning for them.

See the studentthrough their heart!

I am forever grateful for the teachers and special education teachers that saw my heart and provided support each and every day. While many couldn’t teach me, I had several teachers fight to allow me to learn. My heart is in special education to allow students to learn and to grow. My heart will have memories etched in it and every day is an opportunity to see students through their heart no matter the struggle.

Tell your story: what’s in the middle

Part 1: The early years if you haven’t read it yet.

Knowledge is power or so they say. It is something you have to go further in life. It’s the epicenter to move forward and to glean information. Knowing what I know now about learning disabilities compared to then has truly changed my outlook on society today. Kids learn differently. I learned differently and because of that a passion was born.

Learn something new

I saw so many struggles in my elementary through high school life that it enabled me to want to help others. Originally, I wanted to be a pediatric nurse but with Dyslexia, I flipped numbers often and would be completely heart broken if I accidentally gave the wrong dose to a child. It doesn’t happen every time but it takes one time to crush someone and I couldn’t handle it if I did harm.

Therefore, I went back to my roots in helping others in a different capacity. A capacity that supports students, has heartfelt moments, and makes a difference every day. I declared education and special education my second day of college and was on the track to my goal. However, there were still many moments of hardships from day 2 to graduation. Learning some things just wasn’t easy. Geology about ate my lunch (all the names) and some of my education/professional classes made me study more than I ever knew how. But I made it. It wasn’t easy but I did it and have never looked back and didn’t appreciate the struggles thus far.

Learning uncomfortable

I was ready to work with students. I loved my observation and student teaching opportunities but wanted my own classroom to see students thrive and grow in. However, life took a different turn on my educational journey. I had the opportunity to substitute in three districts for three years. It wasn’t what I had planned but it really made me appreciate how much substitutes did from day to day as well as what teachers and paraprofessionals did as well. In those three years of subbing, I was a long term sub, para, aide, and teacher in EC-12. Every job gave me a deeper understanding of how I could serve students and staff.

For three years, I didn’t realize how much substituting would change me. I saw different ages, different struggles, and different campuses put their hearts and souls into their students. It was eye opening and amazing. These three years shaped who I wanted to be as an educator and who I thought I wanted to be. Seeing the struggles and celebrations made me develop a love for relationship building and rapport with students and staff. We spent hours together and I will never forget the memories and advice I was given. I formed so many connections with staff and am grateful for the experiences to this day.

Three years passed and I received an opportunity to uproot my life, move across the state, and start a four year venture in an elementary school. While it wasn’t easy, I learned so much and hope to instill more into lives on my new journey.

To be continued in part 3…

 

Tell your story: the early years

Growing up, learning came slow for me. It was like a breeze, of sorts, that gave glimmers of gust every now and again. I struggled, I cried, and I wondered “why” it was so hard for me to learn. Being the oldest child in my family, this was all new territory for my family. The school districts tried and some were unsuccessful to give me the supports I needed to be successful. When I was in fifth grade, I finally received the learning disabilities diagnosises as to WHY I was struggling so much and it was finally a reason. It was like a breath of fresh air finally blew threw and gave my family and I the answers were knew were there but didn’t test to in the school districts.

Those diagnosises still follow my journey today and make it tough to learn some new information, to hold information, and to not transpose numbers. They are not an excuse however but a reason. A reason I so desperately needed to why I learned differently and why learning was more difficult for me than others.

Something I learned early on was learning looks so different for many. It’s not about the diagnosis you have, it’s about how you move forward each day. I am grateful to have a small friend and family base that was in my corner but still faced hardships and trials. With each hardship, there’s a lesson intertwined within. It’s not always easy to recognize but it’s there. A lesson that allows one to see something others may miss or not notice.

Looking back, my lessons were through trials, at first, but made me a better person and educator to this day. Seeing others struggle for answers and diagnosises tugs at my heartstrings as someone who has learning disabilities and as someone who has been through struggles. However, these diagnosed learning difficulties don’t define who I am today. They are apart of my story. They make my story unique and my difficulties real. They are intertwined in my story and give me understanding for what I notice and work with each day.

Everyone has a story to tell. Some have hardships and others have tragedies that make their story and who they are today. Everyone’s journey is unique. Tell your story and pour your heart out. Be vulnerable and real each day. Use your knowledge to understand and guide your students around you each and every day.

Never, never, never give up!.png

Part 1 of 3 on a journey to tell my story and how it allowed me to find my passion in special education and working with students will all types of differences.