The Belly Flop

Summer is right around the corner and it always reminds me the "not so good" memories of trying to learn how to dive into water. I watched my friends with perfectly formed straight bodies, then lean and execute a beautiful, effortless dive. I would try over and over to mimic my friends with failed attempts. My dives would end as a painful belly-flop or a "water in my nose" kind of landing. I stopped trying to dive so my friends wouldn't laugh at me.

My painful belly flops at the age of 10, mirrored my struggle with comprehending what I read in all third grade subjects. When I was called on by my third grade teacher to read aloud in class, my heart would speed pound and the pit of my stomach dropped. I would concentrate so hard on reading the words perfectly and fluently that I had no idea of what I just read. My social studies textbook was the worst. Academic grades in all subjects were dropping so that is when my mom called in a reading tutor. Ms. Shannon, my tutor, asked me to read the first couple of pages about the regions in our state. My heart fluttered while I concentrated on pronouncing all the words correctly with a smooth cadence. I knew Ms. Shannon would be so proud of me because I didn't have to stop and re-read a word or sentence. Then she asked me the question I feared the most, "Can you tell me about what you just read?" I looked up at her with tears whelling up in my eyes and I responded with "I don't know." I continue struggle with reading comprehension even now. It is the standard, I have to work 10 times harder than my friends and collegues.

My gut wrenching reading nose dive was most likely a learning disability. I was probably dyslexic but "back in the day" that was not on the disability radar. Through my professional development as an educator I completed the most beneficial course about Close Reading. It is a methodical, systematic way of reading non-fiction to uncover a deeper understanding of what the author wants you to learn. Close Reading takes time and practice for it to become second nature. The knowledge I will teach and share will help students to dive without feeling defeated and equip them to discover deep, purposeful meaning.