During my internship placement at Mossbank School, I worked with several children who experienced reading difficulties. One particular student had a fixed-mindset about reading and would stop on almost every word saying, “It’s too hard!” or “I can’t do this!” However, ‘can’t’ was not an acceptable answer and I knew this child could achieve mastery, albeit at his own pace. I challenged this student to develop their skills and made sure to offer positive reinforcement. Whether it was a simple “good job” to highlight success or doing jumping jacks when he sounded words out correctly, I tried very hard to make reading fun. Overtime a more open-mindset was developing and the child would say “this will be easy” before even entering the room. We started to soar through the Fountas and Pinnell program. I was proud but since this student met the expectations I already knew he could achieve, this was not my “why-I’m-teaching-moment.”
My “why-I’m-teaching-moment” occurred on an opportunity outing for students with varying abilities. While on the bus, I heard this student reading to a Kindergarten student. He was proudly showing his reading skills; he wanted to share, teach, and encourage the younger student. I heard him echo my positive phrases: “you can do it! When there is an ‘e’ at the end it makes the vowel says its name.” I was overwhelmed with joy as he proudly shared a part of himself that he recently uncovered. I realized that this student saw the beauty in teaching and the process of learning. Any student can learn and all children can succeed but sometimes it is hard for them to realize this on their own. That is the job of an educator, a family member, and the community. I am proud to dedicate my life towards introducing new potential interests to students, working on new skills, and uncovering their potentials. Learning is a beautiful process and when we share our strengths, offer an encouraging word, and hold our learners to high expectations, we uncover parts of self that we never knew were there.
View: Taylor Mali’s “What Teachers Make”