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We all experience defining moments in our life, and this week I began to define more clearly why I teach.

I teach because I want to help others feel worthy.  Worthy of love.  Worthy of intelligence.  Worthy of decision-making.  Worthy of beauty.  Worthy of individuality.  Worthy of respect.

After working with adult-age reading learners this week, I saw how interconnected our definition of self is to our abilities in life.  If we do not define ourselves as worthy of a certain trait or ability, then it does not appear as a strength in our experience.  The adults with whom I worked are avid movie-watchers, caring mothers, and athletic basketball players.  Somewhere along their journey, they did not define themselves as readers (worthy of the ability to read).  And, because their self definition does not include reader, they struggle when reading.

My own defining moment as a teacher came when I witnessed the power of providing an opportunity for these folks to change their self definitions.  In just one hour, they began reading more fluently.  They recognized pieces of the stories they liked and reflected on why certain stories bored them.  When choosing what to read, they discussed different genres they would enjoy.  They participated as readers.  They began defining themselves as readers.  Their ability to read improved.

As a teacher, I thrive on taking part in these moments where definitions of self change from lack to worth.

Thank you, adult-learners, for providing an opportunity in which my own self-definition grew, too!  And, thank you, Project Read for offering an important support system for adults.

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