Interviewer: What do you wish people knew about learning differences?
Nick Chabot: I wish they knew how individual it is, and how- it’s not just a broad spectrum. It’s very one-on-one person because everyone’s different, not everyone’s in the same group.
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Interviewer: Go ahead and introduce yourself.
Nick Chabot: My name is nick chabot, I have been coming to Aucocisco since 2011 when I went here as a student and now I’m a teacher.
Interviewer: Alright, so that’s a long time to stick around…
Nick Chabot: Yeah.
Interviewer: So what brought you to Aucocisco in the first place?
Nick Chabot: Um, I was struggling at school, failing- about to fail out of Gorham high school so my parents and me, decided to find a school that fit my learning style and my abilities so that I could succeed in life.
Interviewer: Nice, and honestly, one of the things that’s really big here at Aucocisco and hopefully, becomes bigger in education as a whole, is this idea of learning styles, so what do you think people should know about your learning style?
Nick Chabot: I’d say, my learning style is more kinesthetic. I really need to touch things, I really need to be physically active to, uh- to stay on task.
Interviewer: Well, and that can be a really big challenge, that idea of staying on task. It’s honestly something that even as a teacher, I struggle with and I know it’s something that a lot of our students do struggle with, so what’s something that you do for yourself, to help you stay on task?
Nick Chabot: What I do is I use a fidget. It’s really simple. You know, you have the fidget spinners or the squishy balls or play-doh or whatnot…
Interviewer: I have three balloons filled with slime in my classroom, as we speak.
Nick Chabot: Yeah. yeah.
Interviewer: It’s one of those things, it’s useful for students, but I find myself gravitating towards them too. Do you have a favorite fidget?
Nick Chabot: Um, probably those balloons? They have little slimy beads inside them?
Interviewer: Oh, those are great. I do love those. I even made something similar to those with some students last week. We made our own slime, with Ms. Foley… Ms. Foiley’s slime didn’t turn out so great, but I mean, our students are kinda pros at making slime. I mean, I honestly don’t know how they do it? It is not something that comes naturally to me.
Nick Chabot: I’m pretty sure they did slime last year or the year before? Pretty sure they’ve done slime before.
Interviewer: Ah, so they have experience?
Nick Chabot: Yeah.
Interviewer: Well, and I know some of our students are very science-minded and-
Nick Chabot: Yeah, also very artistic.
Interviewer: And slime is very much a science experiment that, can go awry at times… so I’m curious, I didn’t have a ton of different learning style issues, I was lucky that way, but I guess, what do you think is one of the things you have learned about learning styles other than yours in your time here?
Nick Chabot: Other learning styles all have their pros and cons, is one thing I’ve learned from Aucocisco. You know you have people who aren’t kinesthetic, like we’ve gone over, and you have people that are more auditory. They’re able to take in the information without having to move around and whatnot, so they’re able to understand information that way.
Interviewer: Absolutely, and did you- you did the Multiple Intelligence inventory at the beginning of the year, didn’t you? And for people that don’t know, do you want to explain what that is?
Nick Chabot: You can.
Interviewer: Multiple Intelligences are- they’re just the different ways in which we are smart. People who have great interpersonal skills, (I wish I was one of those people) are people that learn best through interactions or experiences with other people. People with intrapersonal skills are people that do a lot of thinking to themselves, and that’s a style that works for them. There’s also auditory, visual and spatial, there’s the concept of what you were talking about earlier, kinesthetic, which is sometimes called “body smart.” It’s people that work best with their bodies, but how did your inventory turn out?
Nick Chabot: Mine was bodily, and visually, which visually makes sense too, because I’m able to look at certain objects or people and be able to mimic them pretty easily and that’s always come pretty naturally to me. It’s pretty hard to explain how- it’s kind of hard to explain how I’m able to do that, but it’s been something that has come really easy to me, I just can’t quite explain how I go...
Interviewer: How it works for you? Well, that’s one of the things about learning styles, they’re very difficult to explain. That’s why I kind of like the idea of multiple intelligences because when they break it down to “you’re body smart” or “you’re people smart” or intra personal which is, “self-smart?” I don’t know how to describe it.
Nick Chabot: There’s a whole bunch, which can be so confusing because you can be just about any of them or any category. That’s- it’s hard to break down which one.
Interviewer: That’s one of the things I’ve always liked about the multiple intelligences inventory is, it doesn’t really ask you to be just one. It kind of talks about, to which degree are you each of these? And, learning styles, like I was saying, are really difficult to explain because, I think you were talking about this earlier, none of us are just one. It’s about finding that blend, but also, learning differences are really difficult to explain because so much of it is an experience. So what do you wish people knew about learning differences?
Nick Chabot: I wish they knew how individual it is, and how- it’s not just broad spectrum. It’s very one-on-one person because everyone’s different, not everyone’s in the same group. It’s not like, you know, public school where everyone is in one classroom and they all have different learning experiences and learning styles. It kind of sets kids up for failure if you’re not in that group.
Interviewer: Yeah, you kind of have to be one kind of zone where everything is targeted at that space and if you’re on either side because, honestly, even kids at an accelerated rate struggle in certain schools because they don’t fall in that target area. That’s kind of one of things that, personally, i really like about Aucocisoco is, we do have such a broad range of students and yeah, maybe public school wasn’t for them, but they’ve found a way to succeed here. Honestly, it takes a lot to get a kid to get to that point, especially after coming from a public school, to get them to feel like they can succeed again.
Nick Chabot: Because a lot of the emotional, you have to get over that emotional barrier to earn the students’ trust, because if they’re coming from a public school, they might not have any trust in that teacher. They think that teacher is not even going to see them or see them as a burden or see them as a struggling student they don’t want to deal with, which is pretty much how it is in some public schools.
Interviewer: Well, and it’s difficult to watch kids in that headspace and especially if you’re kind of removed from it, which I think unfortunately happens with too many teachers, but especially as somebody who was a student and is now working as a teacher, what kind of perspective do you think you have to offer?
Nick Chabot: I can offer them what I’ve learned here at Aucocisco, what my experiences have been, and how I’ve used what I’ve learned here at Aucocisco outside of the classroom, outside the school, in the real world and how to use all that information and succeed and have the confidence to go out into the real world and say, “hey, I’m not afraid of you. I can take you on. Head on. I have the power to succeed. I can do anything, if I put my mind to it.” and like I said, just having that confidence. The confidence factor is huge.
Interviewer: It’s monumental, and I consistently say this, I think it’s one of the coolest things to experience because, I can teach a kid the vowel sound for “a” but I can’t teach a kid to have a little bit more faith in themselves. That’s something that happens, through help of course, but that’s something self-driven. That’s something they do for themselves, and that’s one of the things that I’ve always thought is really cool to see, and a valuable asset in a teacher.
Nick Chabot: I think that, me personally, as a teacher, I’ve had the same exact experiences as these kids, so I know what they’re going through. I see their facial expression, and I know what that looks like, I know how that feels. Not many teachers- they might know the vowel sound for “a,” like you said, they might know all that, but they don’t know what’s inside the kid. What it feels like to be bullied, what it feels like to be on the outside, to be looked at as a loser or a failure, and then coming here and being able to reassure them that this is a safe place to learn and open up, and to really make them understand they’re not alone. There’s a whole world of people out there who are in the same boat. These are people that are going through the exact same thing- not quite the exact same thing, but the same, like struggling at school and things of that nature.
Interviewer:That’s one of the things that, I can only imagine, it feels very isolating when you’re working with a learning difference, but- but just looking at the statistics of how many students are struggling, it’s, like, 1 in 5 kids have a learning difference? So, it’s not as isolated as it may feel, and I think that’s one of the things that’s really cool about working in this field. Getting to see that socialization piece at work, because, when academics suffer, it’s easy for a lot of other things to suffer as well.
Nick Chabot: Yeah, exactly. It brings out frustration, anger, depression, a whole bunch of different emotions. Most of them, if not all of them are negative, but that’s something that Aucocisco tries to eliminate. We try to bring positivity in, get that negativity out.
Interviewer: Absolutely. Thanks so much, I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me.