Is it Only in My Mind – The Darkness recedes (Alberta)
Caught up in circles confusion is nothing new
Flashback, warm nights almost left behind
suitcases of memories
Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time
Twenty-seven years ago this month, the me-that-was succumbed to the call of the dark and fell into a depression. All the protective layers stripped from my religion except my belief in God. It was in the broken that the most hope was found. The broken were not so tied into their masks that they could not speak encouraging words into the soul. The broken had found strong enough hands to hold on so that together we could begin to climb. But they lived in one town and I in another so when therapy ended, so did what we could share.
I found my way in the place I was. Now that my youngest was the age for nursery school, I could participate in a project looking at learners at risk and how styles of learning might affect their ability to read. The opening sessions on how we learn were illuminating. I found out that on many of the scores I scored more like the at risk learners than like the teachers. When it came to measures of what was then called right and left brain thinking, or better seen as linear vs global thinking, I was a table and a half further to the global then any of the others. That I was not able to put things in the structured expectations of my world was a factor of how I was made, not an obstinacy.
And yet, I was less than .1 under a 4.0 average when I finished university and a low A average when I finished high school. I was excited realizing that since they wanted to match at risk learners with similar learning styles in tutors, I had something to offer. The person I was had value just as I was in the world I now found myself living in.
The project began with opening interviews. At mine, I was told that they didn’t think I fit the project and they wouldn’t need me. I just didn’t do well in the opening sessions. At that time in my life, I was fighting for life so I had the desperation to stand up for me. I told them. “You are wrong. I am exactly what you need!”
I went on to discuss what I had observed, how the methods used to teach the sessions were exactly like those used in classes at school so, of course, someone like me, that continued to rank in the test categories of at risk learners would not respond in the ways of the others who matched more with the students who were more able to succeed in school. The sessions, like school were directed to certain types of learners. I had learned to cope with that and still succeed in school. Their premise was to match learning styles of the at risk individual and the tutor. If I was not included in the project then there would be a wide range of students with no matches.
I must have convinced them because they kept me in the program.
To accommodate my parenting, I tutored students grade 1 and 2 in the school where my youngest had her preschool classes. I would drop her off in class and then head down the hall to pick up my students. The three young children I got to know in those months became important mentors in my future teaching as their separate needs pushed me outside all the boxes I knew in order to help them learn. I took a correspondence university course on what was then called “Learning disabilities”, read veraciously, and let myself explore within asking myself what things I had done to get past a teaching system that was so different from the learner I was.
The directors of that session not only later told me I was right, they had me lead a session about exploring alternate teaching routes for those students at highest risk, they bought me the 52 cardstock poster boards I needed to draw out the letters large enough for one child to walk them in order to learn. They even invited me to be one of the participants to write a letter to the government about the project. The person I was with all the differences that to the school system could make someone like me seem broken had value.
I became a Brownie leader, taught some voice lessons in school, led children’s musicals and led a group of rowdy junior high students with drama as a venue to reach beyond their barriers to help them grow. I began to become a person with value in the community. A monologue I wrote even became a part of more than one Christmas celebration.
The more I became a part of the community, the more unhappy my husband grew in his position at the church and he began pushing to move somewhere else. So when the opportunity came to move to Winnipeg, I was at a place to believe I had it in me to rebuild a life in a new place – I had done so after a suicidal depression even while still struggling with the residuals, I could do it again.