Parents would read to me and put the radio on for me to listen to. Both before and after birth. As mentioned by Goodman (Multiple Roads to Literacy), although this is not the only way to literacy, being read to at an early age and having parents that stressed reading really helped me. This importance of reading and writing and being literate, although I didn't know it at the time, was instilled in me because of this.
Going to Kamehameha has really affected the person that I am today. Teachers pushed me to challenge myself in my Elementary School years and would not let me take the easy way out. I was placed into advanced reading groups and encouraged to read more culturally related books. This was the start of my path to become a Hawaiian language teacher.
Took an interest in video games. As mentioned in Goodman's Multiple Roads to Literacy, the technological path is when we have to deal with computers, videos games, and watching TV. Being born and growing up in this time, it is hard not to become literate in this area. Which could also be related to the environmental path to literacy because it was an integral part of my environment and life. I remember my dad refusing to let me buy video games unless I could read to him the cover, the back, and the informational booklet in the case. This motivated me to read by any means necessary so that I could get a new game. This is probably the reason as to why in my discipline I try to bring something so rooted in culture and history like Hawaiian to the students who live in a technological age.
This was my first exposure to a Hawaiian class in which our main focus was to learn the language. My Kumu constantly read to us and created activities where we would have to read aloud to the class. It was a class that was interesting to us. As Buehl (2011) writes, this is the time where disciplinary literacy takes over as the main focus. Because of my love for this class and the natural success that I experienced, I became more and more interested in finding literary pieces, albeit simple and at the elementary level, that either was in Hawaiian or answered more of my questions about the Hawaiian culture.
After years of not playing the ukulele because my elementary teacher told me my fingers were too fat, I decided to pick it back up and at the same time I bought my first guitar. This, again, is an influential part on my discipline identity because after taking an interest in and learning how to play an instrument I started to look at Hawaiian music, its lyrics, and recognizing patterns and techniques of songwriting.
My dad used to pick me up from football practice and on the way home, instead of talking about a terrible day at practice, he'd pop in one of our favorite CDs and we'd sing together until we got home. Although I didn't know the language at the time, listening and trying to phonetically replicate the songs helped a lot. In the reading Goodman (1997) talks about how family literacy traditions is a large influence on ones own literacy. Apart of becoming literate in Hawaiian is to be able to pronounce words correctly, and it was the constant repetition of these songs that we loved that I started down this path. Buehl (2011) talks about how different students are geared towards things like music or athletics, and they require something relating to this field or path in order to understand the content and reach literacy. I find this to be true because I know I learned the language through the music and it seems, so far, that majority of my students feel the same way and enjoy it at the same time.
This is a continuation of my love for music, more importantly Hawaiian music, and even more specifically Hawaiian choral music. Hawaiian lyrics are completely different from English lyrics. By that time, I could safely assume that most of my classmates were literate in English, but when trying to explain what the words really meant (not just the definitions) I found it to be a problem. My mentors in both Hawaiian language and music helped me to express what I felt because of the music and ʻōlelo to my classmates. They would model it for me with a different class that they made me sit in with. After reading Buehl's (2011) passage on Gradual Release of Responsibility, I realized that I was apart of that and it really helped me be able to articulate my ideas. After the first year, I was able to communicate this foreign concept of music, and almost foreign language of Hawaiian to my classmates. This not only developed my literacy identity, but also my discipline identity. As a Hawaiian teacher, I try to convey the different feelings that the language and the music of that language can express. A possible reason for my constant attention to this is my experience here.
I spent a lot of time in the Mānaleo room at UH Mānoa College of Hawaiian Language Kawaihuelani. This was a place where we could ONLY speak Hawaiian with those whose first language is Hawaiian whom we call mānaleo. Being immersed in the Hawaiian language was something that helped my ability to speak and write in my target language. I made the conscious decision to change my environment, and going back to what Goodman (1997) writes relating to how children remember things that are closely associated with the environment, I feel that this is what happened to me. Learning a new language felt like I was back in elementary school. We had to learn everything from how to count, how to spell, and the colors of the rainbow. It helped me to become more literate in this new language, and I still find myself recalling vocabulary words that were taught in that room. Again, this also developed my literacy identity because after being exposed to this, I felt the need to look more into Hawaiian language newspapers to see a primary source and the correct usage of the Hawaiian language.