My son struggles in school. A lot. He went on an IEP in kindergarten for a "learning disability." By first grade I had taken him to a neurologist and he was diagnosed with ADHD. I experimented with medication for him, cried myself to sleep many a night, had more meetings with his school and teachers than I can count and still...Tyler struggled.
By second grade Tyler began hating school. He could barely read and still couldn't add. His writing was arduous and not able to be read. He began losing hope.
In the beginning of third grade, he was reading two grade levels behind and he couldn't add beyond a sum of 10. His writing looked more like a kindergartener's than a third grader's. His peers were soaring and he was stuck. His heart was breaking and mine was too.
By mid-year of third grade, he began telling me he wanted to die. He said he'd rather die than have to keep trying to read, write, and do math. I asked him if he knew what that meant and he said "I would go to heaven and I wouldn't have to read and do math anymore."
My heart continued breaking. All the testing, meetings, doctor's appointments and still...we had no answers and Tyler was sinking into an abyss of feeling like a failure. He felt like he had nothing to contribute to the world and he is only 9 years old.
When the second round of testing from a neuropsychologist this past April revealed that Tyler has dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyscalculia, we cried. We cried with relief. Tyler learned what I knew all along, but Tyler had to hear for himself. He's not stupid or dumb. He just learns in different ways. He is still learning what this means and what it feels like and looks like on a daily basis. We talked about what dyslexia is, what it looks like, and what it feels like. We talked about people we know in our daily life who have it, celebrities who struggle with it, and what it means to be dyslexic. Tyler tells people who ask him why he goes to a different school now and he says, "I'm dyslexic. I just learn in different ways." Knowing that there isn't necessarily something wrong with him but maybe, perhaps, something wrong with how we teach, has helped him understand his own challenges. Wow! To be able to get to the core of who you are at such a young age is pretty amazing.
After years of struggle, we finally had our victory and Tyler began a new school in May. The school has a program for students with language learner delays (such as dyslexia). Tyler is one of 4 students in his class. I thought this would be hard for my sociable and outgoing son, but for the first time I have heard things like "I feel relieved, Mom" or "Mom, I'm learning more now than I ever have in my whole life." I never thought I'd hear such words from my child. He is learning that learning can be fun. It doesn't always have to be hard. He has been given a gift.
My dream for my TPT store is to continue to create educational materials that motivate and inspire. Maybe that will be a teacher. Maybe it will be a student. Maybe it will be a student like Tyler. How amazingly awesome is that?
Creating has allowed me to reflect on my own teaching. Am I teaching to reach all learners? Are the activities, projects, and lessons differentiated to meet the needs of all learners? This is so important to me. I know what it is like to struggle in school. I also know what it's like to have a child who struggles in school. I also know how awesome it feels when you "find your niche" and then learning isn't so much hard work anymore. It becomes fun and it becomes fulfilling.
My dream for TpT is to be able to continue to have this amazing opportunity. My dream is to make learning fun for students and for teachers. May it always be fun! May it always motivate and inspire someone else and myself.
Creating, selling, and collaborating with so many talented, creative, and inspirational teachers, bloggers, and sellers has given me the confidence to know that my contributions to teaching matter.
No matter what the scores on the myriad of assessments I give over the years, learning should always be fun.
My dream is that it always will be.
Thank you to Sparkling in Second, Teach Create Motivate , Third in Hollywood, and Peppy Zesty Teacherista for encouraging us to share our dreams.