I have to say with utmost certainty, that last week was one of the most satisfying weeks I have experienced in a while. It has been soul intoxicating: I have felt weightless and weighted at the same time. A week filled with many lessons, literally and figuratively. I have been in class from 9AM to 3 PM each day with additional days still to come. Admittedly, my brain is operating a little more slowly as I write this, so I present you with my very rough draft.
What I have learned:
– I can fall in love in less than an hour
– I can’t wait for tomorrow while I don’t want today to end
– Ideas are planted within us with intention and come to life when we are ready
– Just when you think you can’t do something, you find strength and turn away from doubt.
– Learning is exhausting but gets easier everyday (the more you use it, the less you lose it)
– Inspirational people are all around us and it is important that we interact with these amazing people on a regular basis: the power of positivity.
– In life, we should continue to surround ourselves with people of all ages. From the six year old to the 73 year old, they nourish our hearts, teach us, and ground us.
– If you believe in a higher power, open your ears (eyes and heart). Miracles come in all shapes and sizes. I truly believe they happen more often but we are just too busy to reflect upon them.
– Getting up an hour earlier than normal is awesome and dreadful at the same time
-My “problems” are no where near the scope of my neighbors problems.
-I have taken learning for granted: it is much more difficult for a percentage of our population partly because of how our brains are wired (as well as access and support).
I have HUGE admiration for my girlfriend who went back to get her masters this year. A week of school is exhausting but a year?! Huge accolades to my friend, who is also a mom of middle schoolers.
– My kids have had a huge interest in what I have been learning each day and even seem proud that I have been “in school” again. It is important to demonstrate the act of learning and wanting to learn around our children. The whole “do as I do, not as I say” speaks for itself.
– As a family, we have had more to talk about around the dinner table. Experiences translate to greater connectivity.
What I have learned that translates to greater understanding of my own children’s school day:
– Backpacks are heavy and that is why my child takes a while to meet me outside of the middle school carpool line. While I didn’t wear a backpack, I carried three heavy bags each day and moved more slowly.
– Speaking of backpacks and folders, organization is difficult to keep up with. I am still planning to organize my papers “tomorrow”.
– Packing the same lunch everyday gets a little boring, even when you know it’s good for you.
– After a day of learning, I sometimes want to come home and do nothing. Time management is difficult when you want to decompress from your day but have homework and projects and reading to complete.
– Homework is easier said than done. While I nag my kids to complete it as soon as they get home, I was caught completing mine in the morning. Disclaimer: I had to cook, do laundry, and help them with their homework before I could get to mine. But nonetheless, I understand why they want to just chill for a bit.
– Sitting in class wears you out. The body in motion principle or lack thereof combined with brain exhaustion leads to not wanting to move when you get home. My pushup count dropped in a week. If only I had someone who drove me to yoga and made sure I went. Exercise is so important! I shouldn’t complain when I have to drive my kids to their activities (and understand why they are not in the mood to go at times).
– My kids learn differently and each require different forms of support.
– Often times, we are born with a predetermined learning style that does not fit into the mold of the typical school day. So when my child doesn’t hear an assignment because he was still processing prior information, it is not an excuse.
– Reading is not a natural process like language. It is a learned process. If your child has auditory processing difficulties, their entire school day is much more difficult.
A year ago, I briefly heard about the Augustine Literacy Project. Then while reading my church bulletin (which I rarely open), I saw an information session scheduled and jotted the date into my calendar. Over the next two days, three people emailed me information about the Augustine Literacy Project information session. The message was loud and clear. It was time. For four years, I have read with students and coordinated volunteers during Freedom School at Montclaire Elementary. It was time to take my love of reading with children to the next level.
The Augustine Literacy Project trains and supports volunteer tutors who provide free, long term, 1-to-1 instruction using the Orton-Gillingham approach and Wilson Reading System® materials. I have already started to work with my student whom I will continue to meet with twice a week for the duration of the school year. I told you I can fall in love in less than an hour. This wiggly, interactive, funny, talkative, struggling reader is most definitely stuck with me for the school year and beyond. Without my training, I would most certainly have no idea how to approach reading with this child. My time in the classroom combined with hands on experience allows me to understand this little boy’s reading challenges, opening up infinite patience, and places hope within reach. Like Augustine says, “tutor one child, change two lives.” This first grader may be homeless, but has found a home in my heart. Thank you to the people at Augustine for connecting me to this child. I look forward to continuing to learn with him and sharing more about Augustine with CSP readers.