⭐️Belonging is teaching from experience.
When her son was diagnosed with dyslexia, Diane Hutchinson felt helpless. “Here, I am with a master’s in special education, a special education teaching license, and an elementary teaching license, yet I didn’t know how to help him.” Having heard about Carroll’s reputation and its Orton-Gillingham courses through the Garside Institute for Teacher Training (GIFTT), Diane was eager to sign up.
“I did the yearlong Associate training and just fell in love with Carroll. I thought I’d go back to public school but, when it came down to it, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. My mentors, co-workers, the library—they are worth their weight in gold. In public school, I would’ve felt like a circle trying to fit into a square. Here at the Lower School, I can be the teacher I want to be.”
Q: How does Carroll help you be the teacher you want to be?
For many of the families I’ve worked with, there are struggles—sometimes outright failure—before coming to Carroll. Every adult here is sensitive to that lived experience. Carroll empowers me to give students the space they need and the time to build strong trusting relationships with students. I tell my students that I have high expectations for them but I will never hold them accountable for something that I haven’t directly and explicitly taught them.
Q: What are ways that you “gec” (give each child what they most need)?
It really starts before I meet the child. I read everything—the neuropsychology reports, educational evaluations, IEPs. The most important to me is the parents’ statement. They are the experts on their child—their strengths, what they enjoy doing, their unique personalities. I try to find some common ground to weave into our lessons. If they crave movement, we’ll go outside and use chalk on pavement or movement activities. I’ll have my artistic friends shape letters with clay. One student loves sharks; all his work is on shark paper.
Q: Describe a teaching moment that you are most proud of.
The best are when students have “a ha” moments. I have one student who likes to review his notebook at different points in the year. He is so proud to see progress in this visible way and we talk about the hard work he’s done to overcome hurdles. In tutoring, I am asking students to do really hard things—they have to think on their feet, feel ok making mistakes, explain their thinking. There’s a real confidence that comes from the Orton-Gillingham approach.
This article is part of a series from Carroll Connection 23-24: The Belonging Issue
- Carroll Connection 2023-24