PATINS 2012 State Conference
Kathleen McClaskey will be an engaging Keynote Presenter for the PATINS State Conference, as the founder and president of EdTech Associates, and more than that, because of her experience as the mother of a child with Dyslexia. I will share her story with you and I believe you will think about a student, a friend, your own child. And you will remember that we agree with Stevie Wonder.
A Story from the Founder
We all have a story to tell, and my story is about my oldest son who found school difficult, especially when it required reading and writing. As a toddler he was quite articulate, engaging many adults with the stories he would tell. His nursery school teacher remarked that she had never met a young boy who could tell stories in such detail and with such expression. Who was to know that he would enter first grade and not be able to learn to read?
In 1986, whole language was the method that was used to teach children how to read. I found out, years later, that this methodology was detrimental for a child with dyslexia. Yes, I never had any educator tell me that he was dyslexic as this was a medical diagnosis, one that educator could not address. In 1994, I located a professional evaluator who ascertained that the language difficulties my son had been having were due to a diagnosis of dyslexia. You see, my son was never taught to read or write in public school, and every word he seemed to know had been in printed form and was memorized. It was in 7th grade when he could no longer memorize multi-syllabic words, and he could no longer keep up with his classmates. He depended on teachers and paraprofessionals to support him at every level, gaining no independent learning skills for his entire educational experience. He tells me now, years later, that he felt “stupid” almost every day of his life in school; he always felt bad that he could not learn how to read. As a consequence, he turned to activities that made him feel important, ones that would bring him into a different world than the one his father and I wanted for him.
In 1995, my son went to a private school for dyslexics in the state of New York, where he was finally taught how to read. At 16 years old, he went from a 4th grade reading level to a 9th grade reading level within a six month period, based upon the same evaluations by the independent evaluator. Graduating in 1998, he left a reader but had limited independent learning skills with equally limited choices in a post secondary environment. (You need to understand that many students who have difficulty in learning become completely dependent on adults to support their learning.)
In 2003, I had a heart-to-heart talk with my son about his natural abilities to engage people in conversation and to crunch numbers mentally. He did not go to college but he is using his natural abilities to make a living. Today, he is a successful car salesman in Massachusetts.
My son is the reason I started this company in 2001. I knew that there were millions of children, just like my son, in schools throughout this country and beyond. Like my son, these children have developed a poor self perception of themselves as learners and they do not possess independent learning skills necessary to have choices in postsecondary schools.
I ask every educator to reflect on the fact that the goal for educating our children is to create “independent learners.” With that in mind, consider how we can change our instructional methods so that every learner will gain the independent learning skills to be successful in school and in life.
Join me today in a vision that every child will realize their hopes and dreams. Begin by “finding the heart of every child” that you teach.
PLAN TO ATTEND!!
PATINS 2012 State Conference
“Accessible Instruction: Every Educator’s Responsibility”