Here is an excerpt of a large writing project of I have been working on:.
Top 10 things NOT TO SAY to a student with a learning disability. I think this is important to address because many teachers do not realize that they can be unintentionally patronizing or demeaning to students with learning disabilities. These are the most common phrases that I heard through out my academic career and that I still continue to hear kids gripe about.
I can’t speak for other students, but I included my internal response to these phrases that I heard the majority of my life.
10. “You're not even trying”.- Maybe for me, trying my best is simply getting through the classroom door in the morning.
9. “If only you just applied yourself more”…Maybe I don’t know what that looks like. Who will teach me what work ethic and grit looks like?
8. “You have got to do your homework!” Maybe I don’t understand why, or I am ashamed because nearly every attempt at my homework is wrong.
7. “You're making all these careless mistakes”.- Maybe those are the most educated mistakes I have ever made.
6. “What do YOU think?”- Maybe I wouldn’t have asked if I knew. Maybe I have learned to not trust my thinking, (see #7 & #8)
5. “Why don't you copy/sit next to ( insert a ‘bright’ student’s name )?” Maybe I already feel like I am not good enough, and this just confirmed it.
4. “You are going to have to know how to do this in the real world”.- Maybe, the field in which I will excel has NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS CLASS. Do you know what I am passionate about?
3. “Why don’t you control yourself better and sit still”? - Maybe I have been sitting for the better part of four hours and am crawling out of my skin. Maybe I am working so hard to sit still that I have no brain power left to listen and analyze what you are saying.
2. “If I do that for you, to be fair I have to do it for all”. - Maybe what’s “fair” is giving me what I need to succeed and not expecting me to be like my peers
And the number #1 most frustrating phrase...
1. “You have so much potential.”
PLEASE! I don’t know how to access it. Can someone show me?
It is so important when planning for students that we give them multiple means to express their learning AND develop strategies and skills that will support them with their executive functioning!
I had an interesting experience on Friday while I was doing a professional development session. While I was relaying my personal experiences with assistive technology one of the teachers said “I am writing down that quote!” the phrase in question:
“When the mechanics of writing limits a student’s creativity, technology can intercede on their behalf”.
Technology has been interceding on my behalf my entire life. And yes, I realize I just quoted myself, sad but true. So, besides being a little giddy that someone actually thought I was quote worthy, I was touched that I could relay a concept that is near and dear to me. I began to relay my personal story of being a special education student who did not learn how to read until I was in the third grade. I presented some of the modifications that I currently make in my daily life to adapt and to work efficiently. In addition I was also able to share how Google Apps helped me make modifications for one of my children who also has an IEP.
The add-on that I show the teachers was speech recognition in Google Docs, in fact I'm using that add-on right now to do this blog post. I shared with these teachers that there are many students that I've had in the past, that were so intimidated about the creative process, because they found the mechanics required by project were insurmountable. Really these students needed to do to express their ideas and opinions is start drafting using this speech recognition add-on, why not throw the EasyBib add-on for good measure? Here is a quick demo:
I've had a lot of experience using Google Apps for Education with a variety of children that had limitations placed on them by learning disabilities or physical challenges. Myself being a “card carrying IEP” dyslexic has found that Google Apps for Education has truly freed me in many ways.
Also, I shared that using these tools freed me to express my thoughts and follow my whims of my hyperlinking mind, which is often not where the typical thought process goes. Many times I have been someone who thoughts come completely out of left field. As a child this was really hard for me. I usually knew the answers or could arrive at them, I just didn't get them out fast enough. That is one of the reasons why I love instructional technology so much, it frees me to express my opinions, research topics that are meaningful to me, and publish for an audience. I realize that my writing is not perfect, nor will it ever be, but I refuse to allow fear to stop my creativity again. My writing is imperfect, as such, it is a honest representation of myself.
Along with technology, one of the other resources that I found to be very freeing for the atypical student, is Doug Lemov’s (@Doug_Lemov) Teach Like a Champion. If you have any opportunity to go to one of his workshops...go. Seriously, tell your district that you will turn-key the training. Ask for a grant from one of your school foundations, but go. It changed my thinking on teaching forever. As a child who struggled to express answers, take risks or speak up in class, I can tell you that these skills would have leveled the playing field. Now I get the honor of training teachers in these techniques. I have witnessed huge shifts in the classroom environment after training teachers in some of these techniques. Wait time and Cold Calling alone would have drastically changed my learning for the better.
I attended a two-day train the trainer workshop, and I was completely enthralled. The teaching skills that were covered would transform anyone’s classroom into a dynamic, fun, and rigorous learning environment.
I would suggest that any teacher would benefit from signing up for Lemov’s Teach Like a Champion blog updates.
I am a technology leader, professional developer, teacher, parent and proud owner of an IEP. Let's talk about some fabulous learning experiences.