Back to the Future
Emma Pollard became a SPELD NZ Teacher so she could support her dyslexic daughter and others like her. She also created her own website so families and teachers could access her advice and resources.
“I love teaching children and seeing their zest for life and learning in the classroom. However, when I came across a student who couldn’t read or write in a Year 3 classroom, I struggled to know how to help her. Whenever she had to read or write, I’d notice her bright spark leave and it broke my heart. So I decided to train as a SPELD NZ Teacher, and this is where my dyslexia learning journey began!
“After two years as a classroom teacher, I trained with SPELD in Auckland on an intensive block course in 2000. I then began teaching students one-on-one. I took a break while having a family and then my husband and I started pastoring a church so we became very busy. It wasn’t until my youngest started school that I began to wonder about going back into tutoring. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to retrain in 2018 because the course SPELD NZ now offers is far superior to the one I took all those years ago. It was a big step up both in terms of professionalism, expectations and being fully aligned with the scientific research behind how we learn to read.
“Soon after retraining, I noticed that my daughter wasn’t progressing with her spelling. Despite being told by her teacher that she was at the same ‘level’ as other children in her class, I went with my gut and got her assessed. Her dad is dyslexic, and he also had SPELD lessons back in the day. Knowing it can be hereditary gave me confidence to push through my own doubts.
“I found it really interesting that even though I was now trained as a SPELD NZ Teacher, many of the same questions and concerns that other parents have, were surfacing for me. Because the school kept telling me she was ‘doing great’, I started to think:
• Surely the teachers would have alerted me to a problem?
• Maybe I’m just being a fussy parent?
• Maybe I’m expecting too much, too soon?
• Should I take this seriously or just hope that it all works out in a few years’ time?
Whenever she had to read or write, I’d notice her bright spark leave and it broke my heart.
“Retraining as a SPELD NZ Teacher allowed me the privilege of supporting my daughter but also many other SPELD NZ students. Waihi Beach Primary School is extremely supportive of my work and despite having limited space, they’ve made room for me to teach my one-on-one students in the morning blocks. It’s amazing!
“As I started this journey of teaching dyslexic students, I also began creating resources I could use with them. This was partly due to a desire to have relevant resources, but also because I couldn’t afford all the expensive resource options out there. In 2019, I began selling my reading games on a website called TPT to make these resources available to teachers, parents and tutors at a reasonable price. I love to create games I can play with my students to reinforce what we are learning together, so my creation journey follows my student’s progress, which is so fun to see.
“Many parents and a few teachers have asked me about how they could help their own struggling students. This led to the birth of my website Kidequip. It’s still very much a work in progress, but I’m glad that it’s become a place where I can share what I’ve learned on my journey and hopefully help more people who need it. Any challenges I face in this venture are relieved by seeing the enjoyment on my students faces when I pull out a game at the end of a hard lesson.”