By Kelly Josephson with foreword by Ariel Mordetsky of Oases Online.
I have had the pleasure of knowing Kelly for over 10 years. I never knew her story until recently. Since I have known her she has always had her nose in a book or was talking with fellow teachers about whatever it is teachers talk about. Never in a million years would I even guess she is ADHD, spent time in an ESE program or has worked with an Educational Therapist. Congratulations Kelly on your career success and being a positive example to thousands of kids that just because someone says you have issues, doesn’t mean you have to be a failure! Kelly is one of the many reasons we should continue to support ESE programs and several of the state and federally funded Exceptional Education Programs.
My Philosophy of Education – An Introduction to my Philosophy of Teaching Reading
My personal philosophy is based on the lack of schooling I received as a child. I was one of those struggling readers who was reluctant to try to read an entire book. The printed words made no connections to any thing I knew or understood. I attended grade school in Long Island New York. I was one of those students who was always in the main office or getting a phone call home because I couldn’t sit still in my seat, follow multi-step directions, or get along with other students. I was often referred to as, ” Kelly dances to the beat of her own drum and does what she wants when she wants too!”
Teachers referred to me as defiant by nature. I never knew why I was constantly getting reprimanded. I tried to do what the other students did but I was clearly different and didn’t understand what was going on around me. At a young age, I learned it was easier to just copy the kids work next to you rather than actually do the work myself. I fell very far behind ,but as long as I kept quiet, I stopped getting sent out of the classroom. I never had homework or projects to do. I don’t even think there was a book inside my book bag!
In grade three I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder. Having this disability impeded my ability to read and write and I was far below grade level. I feel that is when my teachers gave up on teaching me. The school district did more tests, but my mother disagreed with the results and had an outside psychological done. The results indicated that I had ADHD and an auditory processing deficit with an average intelligence quotient. I was placed into inclusion based classrooms with minimal support. Mostly I remember being seated in the very back of the classroom without being able to see the board or instructions.
One day in high school I came home and my parents stated they were tired of the school system and tired of not having any more work in New York. That day changed my education for the best as we moved to Florida!
My parents went to the school district and got all my paperwork and couldn’t believe how far below grade level I was and how I never attended school. When they investigated Florida schools they were impressed by the ESE programs that were offered. I was able to have a resource room teacher and full support in each regular class I took. I had accommodations of extra time, remedial reading, and even some electives. My guidance counselor and I had hit it off right away as well. I was in eleventh grade when I began to learn what being a student truly meant. All I had to do was show up for classes and pay attention and ask questions and the teachers in Florida actually listened and helped me. I was never made to feel embarrassed by reading aloud material that was too difficult or put on the spot or called dumb in front of other students. Still I graduated with D’s and my mother used to say just give it your best- D is Diploma. I was lucky they didn’t require a passing FCAT score or I may have wound up with a certificate of attendance.
It wasn’t until I graduated high school and decided to move out of my parent’s house that I learned I was smart enough to read well. As a hairdresser, my mother always met new people. One day at the salon, she happened to meet Dr. Olivera who was an educational therapist. This woman taught me how to learn and gave me the confidence that I was smart and I had the ability to be successful in the classroom. I was reluctant at first but gave into my parent’s demands of working with her a few times a week. I was a waitress and had no future career goals beyond that. Dr. Olivera tested me. I was seventeen years old and reading on a seventh grade reading level. At this point in my life I never had read one chapter book front to back. She taught me decoding tricks, chunking words, how to read around words, and use context clues. She taught me enough strategies to convince me I could tackle community college.
She led me into learning by helping me learn how to read and write. I made it through community college with straight A’s and decided I wanted to teach students with disabilities and show kids that they can overcome obstacles that are placed in front of them if they just choose to try. As I teach my students phonics principles and studying tricks I learn more myself. One has to fully understand a concept before you teach it so I always look at teaching as learning too! I don’t ever recall learning about narrative or expository texts and different genres of texts. All these terms were new to me as an adult ESE teacher. This is why I chose to get my master’s degree in reading: to learn more about reading and how to help myself and my students.
In summary, my philosophy of teaching reading to reluctant, struggling readers is lit from a passion from within. First, a relationship must be established with each student I teach. Next, respect of his or her boundaries he or she may have in the area of trust with their learning issues. Finally, academic instruction at a level to increase their confidence, competence, and capabilities.
I recently attended a high school graduation for one of my former fourth grade students. Reading was not easy for this young man. But I knew that my goal was accomplished when he said to me, “Ms. Joe, I did it! I listened to you and showed them up with my greatness!” I cried. He’ll be attending Palm Beach State University in the fall. He is on the same path as I once was, eighteen years ago. I began my education at the same school. I hope that one day I get an invitation to his college graduation! I believe all students, regardless of their disability, have the ability to be successful! As an ESE teacher I continually update my education to provide meaningful lessons to every child I teach.
More About Kelly
Kelly Josephson graduated from Florida Atlantic University in 2001 with a Bachelor of Arts degree and was a University Scholar. She is going into her 14th year of teaching in Special Education and is certified in Elementary Varying Exceptionalities, K-12and ESOL Education. Currently she is enrolled and seeking an Advanced degree in Exceptional Student Education with a Reading Endorsement. She has been the Department Chair and served as an ESE Contact. In 2010 she was awarded with the Palm Beach County’s Character Counts Award. Finally in 2012 she was presented with the Outstanding Professional Educator Alumni of Florida Atlantic University.
For further question you can contact her via email at Kelly.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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