Mum's the Word
I loved being a classroom teacher for 37 years, and I witnessed over and over the powerful difference a teacher could make for a student. I revered and respected my role to help my students be the best they could be. I still miss being in the classroom years later because of the many rewards - rewards that I gave and received. The miracle of learning will always be at the forefront of my mind.
I saw an extraordinary story on the news about a man with autism whose life was changed by a single teacher. Dan Bergmann was one of the commencement speakers for this year's graduating class of Harvard Extension School. He was not always looked upon as gifted.
For years, Dan Bergmann was seen as intellectually disabled. He waved his arms and made meaningless noises. He could not communicate except to shout the word, "COOKIE !" when he wanted a cookie. And then he met a teacher who gave him the gift of language through a method of answering questions that he understood, and as Dan says, his mind began waking up. He was 12 years old, and he learned to communicate by stabbing his pencil through cut out letters on a board.. He loved being able to answer questions and communicate, and that led to a love of learning. I think one of his greatest insights about the learning process is this astute observation: "If someone seems like they can't or don't want to learn, look for the physical obstacle, and remove it. This applies not just to the millions of people like me who have autism and can barely speak, but to people who are prevented from learning by distance, language, or economic pressures."
To hear Dan's full commencement speech to his class, which he typed into a computer with one finger, one letter at a time, please click on this link. You will be swept up into his story, made possible by one teacher who figured out his obstacle to communicating. This video even includes pictures of Dan as a child and shows him typing. What an uplifting story!
You see why I chose the following quote to introduce this blog. "Better than a thousand days of diligent study is one day with a great teacher." Japanese Proverb
One great teacher made all the difference for Dan Bergmann.
Visit Dede's web page for complete details on her award-winning book, STUDENT TEACHING: THE INSIDE SCOOP FROM A MASTER TEACHER. Many colleges have made the book required reading. Signed copies are available www.dederittman.com Dede is also a national speaker on The Three C's for Classroom success: Confidence, communication, and Creativity; Avoiding Teacher burnout; and many other inspirational topics.
I LOVE writing. And I love writing children's books- my newest passion. Although it will be a ton of work, I am looking forward to selling my books. Since I was a secondary teacher, I know that I have much to learn about elementary students, and I will have to follow my own advice and be my genuine self. However, I also know that I am passionate about helping kids who have to wear glasses, and that GRADY GETS GLASSES sends a positive message. I am willing to work hard and do all the things that also made me a successful teacher for 37
Teacher friends- let me know if you want me to read GRADY GETS GLASSES at your school. I am willing to come in to discuss the creative writing process, why writing is important, and personal fulfillment through writing, along with reading my book. I would appreciate the exposure, and I would make signed copies available for purchase in your classrooms following the reading. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org The website www.gradygetsglasses.com now has plush Grady bunnies for sale!
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