Hello, my name is Tina Kramer and I have a learning difference. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard this statement. “That isn’t too bad but if you really applied yourself, imagine what you could have done.” During my primary and secondary education, on the outside, I looked like the typical B – C student. What people didn’t know was how hard I was working on the inside to focus and pay attention in the classroom. If I had an interesting teacher or a class that was project based, I excelled! Classrooms that were boring or involved lots of reading or sequencing – well not so much! This left my teachers, parents and truth be told, me, confused as to how I learned. I was told to focus, work harder and also, the word lazy was thrown around quite a bit! Ack! This all really hurt when I was a kid. Now I realize those experiences set me up to be an awesome teacher, enabling me to help others, who don’t fit the status quo of traditional education.
While teaching in an International School in Hong Kong, I had students in my classroom that were clearly intelligent, however they were not doing well. They had trouble staying on task and their written work fell below the expectations. Traditional approaches to supporting learning disabilities (at this time in my career I was still saying disabilities) was not proving effective. I told my students, “If I am any good at my job, I should be able to figure out how you learn and find a way to build a bridge to what you need to do in the classroom.” I then looked into research surrounding individuals with a perceptual talent. How could I leverage my students’ strengths to create success in the classroom? It was an exciting time, as I implemented these ideas. The students started to succeed and I saw so much positive change that I now privately support students creating individual plans per their needs.