Mr T is a 28-year-old living in Northland. He lives in a residential care home, where one day, the clinical staff said to him, “Mr T, what do you want to do to improve yourself.”
After some thought, Mr T said, “I want to improve my reading; I want to be able to read a book.”
The journey to reading
The staff generally agreed it was a great idea, a worthy objective to set.
The clinical staff went about finding a literacy organisation that could help and spend time helping Mr T read a book. Some said ‘no,’ but the staff perceived and soon found the Rural Youth and Adult Literacy Trust (RYALT). The answer was ‘yes’; we can definitely match a coach to the student’s needs.
So, shortly after the approach to RYALT, coach and student were meeting online via Zoom. Both coach and student found out about each other, building a bond, matching interests, and finding interests in the All Blacks, Fishing, Boating and Maori stories.
The coach builds on the story
The coach started his preparation, locating stories of interest, understanding the student’s requirements, and preparing to meet these. Preparing material for Mr T to understand words better!
Mr T became a storyteller, reading articles of interest on the weekly Zoom meeting. Initially, the readings were very tentative; there were some hard words within the stories, which Mr T didn’t know and didn’t know how to start to pronounce. That’s where his coach came to the fore giving lessons on word breakdown, putting the word into a straightforward concept that Mr T could understand, spending the time to help Mr T understand and comprehend. That is a vital concept of the Rural Youth and Adult Literacy Trust philosophy, spending time with the student at their learning speed.
With time Mr T took onboard the learnings, the concepts started to come together. A dynamic shift was coming in the lessons’ structure; Mr T took on the word understanding and breakdown himself. The coach took on a support role. The role of protector of correct protocols and concepts for Mr T’s learning and his movement forward as a reader.
Mr T continually desired to do better and move forward to achieve his goal. Mr T wanted to read a whole book; achieve the goal that he had set himself; he was not going to flinch from that goal, even if he did have some bad days.
A book is chosen
The book chosen was Maori Boy: a memoir of a childhood by Witi Ihimaera.
Page after page, Mr T began to make confident strides forward; Mr T’s need for a reading coach reduced week on week. Mr T is a storyteller through his reading. Coach and student still meet up every week because, as Mr T puts it, “that’s what we do, the journey is not finished, I’m reading a story to my coach, the goal is in sight, I want my coach with me when we complete the book.”
The moral of the story – you can achieve; it’s not hard; it just takes time, effort, and a drive to succeed!