Lindsey Lipsky on Albert Einstein's Learning Difference and How Students Transform Teachers

Noodle Expert Lindsey Lipsky discusses how Albert Einstein was able to overcome a possible learning difference and how teachers are changed by each on of their students.

Who would you pick, alive or dead, to be your teacher for a year? What would you want to learn?

I would love to learn from Albert Einstein and see his work in action. I think it is fascinating that so many say he didn't learn to talk until age four and displayed many learning and attention issues that we currently diagnose in schools. Despite the fact that he most likely had some kind of learning difference, he managed to become one of the most brilliant minds in physics, changing the way we think about the world around us. From working with so many students with learning and attention differences, I can see that if students received the same kind of support and guidance that Einstein did, they can excel beyond our wildest imagination.

What is one small piece of advice that has had a big impact on your life?

One piece of advice I was given at a young age was to never stop learning. I think that each day we are given a gift to learn and grow, and we should never take that for granted. One thing that many people outside of education don't realize is that educators are constantly learning new things. Aside from the fact that educators must continue to participate in continuing education hours through professional development each year, educators are expected to be up-to-date on the most recent technological advances, curriculum, and pedagogy. There is no other profession that truly encompasses the full-circle idea of continuous learning and development.

Where would you send a student who hasn't traveled before?

If a student has never traveled anywhere before, I'm guessing that she has many thoughts on where she'd like to go. I would never just send a student anywhere, but instead ask where she would like to go. I think that's pretty symbolic for our teaching practices as well; we shouldn't be setting the destination for our students, but outlining a road map for our students to take where they want to go.

When was a time that you failed academically, and what did you learn from the experience?

My first year of college I took an extremely challenging statistics class. The professor was a very intelligent man, but I had a hard time keeping up and even grasping the background knowledge needed for the class. I was going to transfer out of the class, but before I did, I decided to speak with the professor. I'm so glad that I did, because he didn't realize he was actually going way too fast in the class and that so many of us were lost. It turned out he was new that year and was just learning how to really present content to students. It definitely turned into a learning experience for both of us!

Why did you go into your field, and how is it different from what you expected?

I went into education because I am passionate about working with students with special needs and making sure they get the access and innovation they need to be successful. I think one of the biggest things I encounter in my work is that so many people don't realize how difficult a teaching job is. There are times throughout the school year where educators are working 80+ hours a week, staying up late at night planning a great project or lesson, or trying to figure out how best to accommodate that hard-to-reach learner. Educators worry and care more about their students than most realize. Like taking a tiny bite out of an apple, each student comes into your life and changes you forever in some way. Whether good or bad, each year we encounter new students, new situations, new standards. But one thing remains the same; educators are some of the most hard-working, dedicated professionals around and a group I am proud to be a part of.

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