My Life in Seven Stories

Abut Me

Beginning a new assignment, I did what most students do: I looked online for “examples”. The trend I noticed is that “Journey of” blogs begin by digging into the blogger’s past to find the spark that led them on the journey. In a “Journey of a Hero” story, the main character will hear a “calling” that leads him or her on their quest. Search online and you will find “Journey of a Substitute Teacher” or “Journey of an English Teacher”, but there are hardly many, if any, “Journey of a Literacy Coach” blogs. Luckily, I was assigned a book by Jennifer Allen entitled, “Becoming a Literacy Leader”. What made this book so different from the others we were assigned is that she is not afraid to get personal. She understands that sharing a “journey” story will get personal, perhaps uncomfortably personal. That being said, I will begin this blog with one of Allen’s writing tasks that she assigns during professional developments entitled: “My Life in Seven Stories”.  Below is my take on that assignment: the answer to what brought me to this journey in seven… short… stories : ).

1. All thanks to Big Bird
2. The Evil 2nd Grade Teacher
3. Special Deliveries
4. The Calling
5. Read? I just need to Survive
6. Finding My Way Again
7. The Beginning

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1. All thanks to Big Bird

It all started with Big Bird.  He is my earliest memory of a literary character. There isn’t much I remember about that time period in my life, but I do remember how much I loved when my mom read to me. The one book I had her read over and over was a golden book starring Big Bird.  I swore that I could read the book, but I later realized that I had just memorized it. Still, Big Bird will always hold a special place in my heart as my first.

2. The Evil Second Grade Teacher

I think we have all had one teacher that we just didn’t like and we knew was secretly evil.  We imagined that maybe she was a witch or some sort of demon sent to wreak havoc on our young lives. Regardless of her origin or her purpose, this teacher can have a huge impact on how we perceive reading and writing.  I’ve heard countless stories of students who hated a subject because of one “evil” teacher.  For me, that was my second grade teacher. Luckily, I had a family that highly valued reading and for that reason, her schemes and evil plots didn’t keep me from continuing to love reading.

3. Special Deliveries 

To this day, I still get excited thinking about these deliveries. I could stand my evil second grade teacher sending me to the corner to copy from a dictionary. I could take her rudeness and the spells she was secretly casting on me. I could handle all of this because on a specific Friday in every month, a box of books would come in with my name on it.  As a single parent, my mom could not afford much and felt wary about spending money on toys and such, but she would never deny me books. So, when that form came along, I enjoyed marking down books and waiting patiently for that day when my name was called and I would go up to the front and take my box of books.

4. The Calling

You may have noticed that at a young age I loved to read.  I read so much because I liked traveling out of my room and into other worlds through books. I realize, though, that I may not have found this spark if it were not for my grandparents. Due to politics of the time and various circumstances, my grandparents were not able to get past a second grade education.  They lived a very difficult life because they did not learn to read.  What I saw them experience made a huge impact on my desire to want to teach others to read.  I remember checking out books from my teacher so that I could help my grandparents learn to read. That is still a driving factor in my desire to become a Reading Specialist.

— At this point, I wish Allen would have entitled this assignment “My Life in Four Stories”.

5. Read? I just need to Survive

If this were a “journey of a hero” story, this would be the abyss.  Middle school came along, unfortunately, and my love of reading met a brick wall (as did my social life and spirit). No longer was there a comfy reading corner or books about imaginary places and interesting characters. Reading became more about strategies to pass a test. I was bored and I had trouble focusing. I felt angst towards people and subjects and I had no idea why. I delved into music more than books. The lyrics were harsh and abrasive like those years.  On the bright side, I did make it through and I would later find my way to reading again.

6. Finding my Way Again

High school was a great deal better. I was growing up and learning and I found my way to books again through a lovely (and very pregnant) ninth grade English teacher.  I’m not sure if it was her nurturing instincts coming into play, but she took us under her wing and she created an environment that we wanted to be a part of. Reading was fun again.  She gave me a book that wasn’t in the book center. This book was special because she shared it with no one else. I wanted to struggle through this book because I felt understood by that character.  This character reflected who I was and what I was dealing with. It sparked a love of reading again for me and I will always remember her for that.

And finally, number seven! 

7. The Beginning

Eventually, I did grow out of my emotional teenager stage. I graduated high school and went to college, which is a big deal when you’re the first in your family to do so.  I received  a great deal of support through a scholarship, a mentor, and my family.  I wanted to be a writer, a teacher, a librarian: anything and everything that had to do with words.  I also, wanted to teach kids to read.  I didn’t realize until much later that high school English teachers don’t necessarily teach kids to read because most can read by high school (though not necessarily on level).  I love being an English teacher. It’s challenging but very fun. I like sharing my excitement of books with others, but I still didn’t know how to teach my grandparents to read. I was able to help my grandma with finding programs and videos, but I didn’t have a real understanding of how to teach someone to read. So, I joined the Masters program and decided to be a Reading Specialist. I am compelled to help others through their quest to become more literate. Already, I have learned so much and I have been able to see progress not only in my students but in my grandmother’s reading as well.  She still loves to learn and is excited to read and become a better reader. This is just the beginning. I have a long way to go.  This is my journey.

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