I can remember the first I time needed help in school. It was in first grade, when I had trouble pronouncing my letters, especially the letter L. This worried my mother because she was afraid "love" would never leave my lips correctly and that this could be an early case of autism that was sweeping many families during the nineties. I did not think much of it, I saw it as just another our of school. The time that was taken away from me by my five-year-old speech therapy had a lasting effect on how I approached my classes, classmates, teachers, and people outside of school. I did not want to be left behind but the help I was receiving felt like a step behind.
At such an age, you do not see how or where or why each step is necessary. What you do realize, maybe too soon or too late sometimes, is that you get to take these steps alongside others. I saw kids taking into their own a set of skills I did not possess that were much suited to who they were. Finding out what you are good at can become the source of who you are. The natural response then was to find and be that good person. I knew I was hesitant to be the center of attention and rarely rose my hand to answer a question, even if I knew the answer. Being the voice of reason is quite a heavy responsibility, taking the abstract and making it concrete. I always knew that no matter how unlikely, I would have something to say.
Words were my confidence even though they started out as my weakness. Peers would say the first thing that came to mind while I would say the second, fifth, maybe sixteenth thing that came right after. I was editing and measuring my words as if they would be reaching the Moon and avoiding a crash landing. If I wanted to be taken seriously, if I wanted to be heard, I had the page and my thoughts to gather them with. I took my lack of speech and turned it into a dialogue I was comfortable speaking through. Granted, I could not pretend to be mute; there is only so much ink and paper to go around. So I wrote and continued to write, sharing who I was the best way I knew how.
Students took notice of my strength I once possessed as a weakness. They learned that I had something of myself to share, whether they appreciated it or abused it. I found my knack, the written word, to reveal who I was at my best. Now I help others find out who they are on their own page. The page that does not end and is always being drafted. Until the final stroke of the pen or dash of the pencil, the words will find us, even where and when we find them missing.
Lifelong learning begins one lesson and one session at a time.
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