Jennifer Kelly: Learning Ability
by: Jennifer Kelly
Some people don’t remember their first day of high school, but I do. I remember walking to school with an attitude of defeat and feeling ashamed because I had a learning disability in math. And I remember that day because when it was over, I had a different perception of myself – all because of a teacher.
Despite a talent for writing and high grades in English and social studies, I had always felt defined by my learning disability. Immediately after meeting my English Literature teacher, Mr. Roberts, this changed. I did well on his first day mini assignment and afterward, he made a point of telling me he thought I was an excellent writer.
Two teachers, Mr. Roberts and my social studies teacher, Mr. Mercer, always saw the best in me and in turn, I began to see the best in myself. They would make a point of telling me I had talent and ability, and in time, I began to let my accomplishments define me instead of my learning disability.
I never thought I would attend University because of the math average requirement at the time. It was Mr. Roberts who encouraged me to apply to the special admissions committee requesting that the math requirement be waived. They both wrote glowing recommendation letters that I still have today.
After completing my Bachelor of Arts, I completed my Master in Communications and now work in that industry and am a published freelance writer. I owe it to those teachers. Had they not encouraged me, had they not believed in me, I would never have attended university, never completed my Masters and would not be living the life I am now. Most importantly, I would never have believed in my abilities the way I do now.
It is not just lessons that help us learn – it’s the way we are taught those lessons; it’s the way we are encouraged in learning that makes the real difference. Teachers can have an intense impact on our socialization and can shape how we view ourselves and our abilities. The best teachers are those who motivate a student to expect more from themselves and those who help us believe we are better than we think.