Friday, August 27, 2010

Like Giving Birth

This is what I've been doing for the last two weeks.

It may not look like much to you except a group of insane women who are about to go over the edge, but this is our latest Associate level Orton-Gillingham training class and the three trainers.  Training teachers is not my favorite thing to do. If you know anything about Orton-Gilllingham, it is sort of a sacrilege for me to say this. I achieved the level of Fellow in the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators, ostensibly, so I would be qualified to train teachers; the truth is, I would rather be teaching students. I'm an introvert, I don't like speaking in front of groups, and the whole thing leaves me in a constant state of anxiety. Now that I'm on the other end of it though (the course ended today), it's actually pretty great.

These women came into the course knowing little about dyslexia and about as much about the English as an average English speaker (i.e., not really enough to teach it in a logical, sequential way to a person who has a language-based learning disability). During the first few days, everything was new, from the structure of the brain and a working definition of dyslexia to the vowel and consonant sounds, six main kinds of syllables, and three rules of syllable division. And then just about when they worked their way through those challenges and had one nice day where we worked on lesson planning and no new content...we slammed them with everything they need to know to teach writing and advanced aspects of the language. By the time they were good and crazy (see photo above from Tuesday), we taught them about psychological assessment, gave them a fictitious student to plan for, and made them teach a lesson in front of us.  Mwah ha ha.  And then we gave them a test...and now they're gone.

But here's why it's a bit like giving birth. We have all already forgotten all the crazy stuff that happened in the middle. I have that warm and fuzzy feeling inside like I have helped to create something magical that I will now get to nurture as these people take on students, and we mentor them from afar. When we hugged good-bye and promised to keep in touch, and people talked of returning to take the next course, they were proud of everything they were able to learn in two weeks. I forgot all about the anxiety-ridden nightmares, sleepless nights, and early wake-ups of the last two weeks (do you doubt I have anxiety?), and all the juggling of course content, daily quizzes, the constant barrage of questions, books, materials, snacks, videos, tuition receipts...but I digress. The point is, I let go of all that and caught myself thinking "THIS is pretty cool." These people came together with a common purpose, bonded during the time they spent together, and are going out into the world to further the mission of teaching people with dyslexia. They will pay it forward in ways I can't begin to imagine.

I'm sort of glad that I won't have to organize this course again until next June, but I think I will suffer a little bit of postpartum depression. Good-bye Debbie, Alison, Nonette, Margaret, Melisca, and Chere. Thanks for coming and being a part of the magic we make at Kildonan. I hope you will love teaching dyslexic children as much as I do.

P.S.  My hair looks insane.  Don't know what that's about.

Eye Candy

In the time since I wrote last, I developed a little writer's block. Although there is plenty to write about, the second half of the summer seems too broad to tackle. It's not as if we really did THAT much, but sitting here on August 27 and looking back feels like standing at the bottom of a very tall hill and looking up. Each time I think about writing, I give up before I begin. But, as I tell my students, you have to start somewhere. Just write. So I'll begin my return with this lovely picture of the summer dishes in the drainer.

I didn't need new Fiesta Ware; I had at least 8 place settings, but somehow, they were all dark, wintry colors. Serving the summer's bounty on cobalt blue and persimmon seemed wrong somehow. I bought a few dinner plates from eBay in lovely summer colors, and I was really happy when I saw them lined up in the drainer. Even if I can't be eating corn-on-the-cob on the picnic table under the oak tree, looking at the pink, yellow, and turquoise plates makes me giggle a little, like sunshine.  They feel like bare feet in the summer grass, and I will enjoy them until snow is on the ground!