Monday, February 2, 2015

#WalkMyWorld Learning Event #3: Struggling Doesn't Mean Stupid

Welcome to Learning Event Three in the #WalkMyWorld Project! For this learning event we invite you to reflect on your identity. Do you have one consistent identity (online and offline) or are they different? Does the identity you share publicly represent who you are inside your head?  The facilitators of #WalkMyWorld are challenging you to open up by sharing a piece of your past or your goals for the future. Today I felt like sharing a piece of my past with a picture of me in 5th grade, when I first realized my brain struggled with letters.

Present identity: This is me at an International Literacy Association conference (formally known as the International Reading Association) with my good friend and mentor, Dr. Jerry Johns. I am a third year PhD student, the president of Pennsylvania's Reading Association, and a leader in the field of literacy.

Past identity: This is me as a fifth grader (with my younger brothers). Despite the dimples and the feathered hair, this was the year I was anything but an average 5th grader. For the first time I realize my brain was always going to struggle to process letters when I had to walk down the hall to a 4th grade reading class. I loved school, but no matter how hard I tried, or the hours spent with tutors, my brain still struggled to spell simple words. I also struggled to recall subject-matter content for tests. As a result, I was placed in a lower academic track for middle and high school.

My guidance counselor said I shouldn't waste my time applying to college. My college accepted me on a one year probation after I pleaded in an entrance interview that:

I HAD to become a teacher so I could tell students who struggle with letters that they are brilliant.

I HAD to become a leader in literacy so I could show educators how to look beyond poor spelling.

I HAD to become a researcher so I could find evidence that struggling doesn't mean stupid.

Struggling just means I need more time to process letters. I need technology to spell my words, and I need multimodal opportunities to show my brilliance.

Take some time this week to think about who you are and share your reflections with me at the #WalkMyWorld Project. You can click this link to read more about Learning Event #3:

Happy reflecting,