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Tales from Real Life: Adjusting to Change

As a young reading teacher, I had the opportunity to take part in an extraordinary professional development program that dealt with the teaching of reading.

One of the first experts I met worked with adult literacy programs. Because I had an interest in adult literacy, I was excited to learn what specific reading techniques and materials worked most effectively with adults. I was full of all the teacher-centered questions that a young teacher working in 1974 often asked.

The presenter, instead of talking about strategies and materials, spent most of his time talking about the powerful changes that occur in a family when a parent who has been dependent on others for his or her literacy needs is no longer dependent.

He talked about how important it was to teach family members how to adjust to this new kind of independence. It had never occurred to me that bringing literacy to an adult could have such a significant impact on his or her family, some of which might be very difficult to adjust to. This powerful lesson about the difficulties change can bring has never left me. Thirty years later, as I work with faculty on ways to help their students adjust to the changes a learner-centered environment demands, this view of change is still at the heart of my work.

—Terry Doyle
Ferris State University

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