Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia, Dyspraxia, ASD, APD, ADD, ADHD, Sensory Processing and on it goes. When we have limited knowledge, and understanding of the impact these learning differences have on the lives of our students and their families, our actions and responses tend to highlight our lack of vision without us realising.
We default to a place of SURVIVAL and THREAT. “What can I do to get these people off my back? How dear they advise me how to support and or teach my students? This is my patch. These are my kids.”
Every teacher in every classroom, in every community, in every school has taught a student with one if not many of these learning differences. They have gone back through those doors day after day and known that this student is different. They learn differently. They are failing to progress through reading levels. They are unlikely to reach NCEA level 1 without workarounds and adjustments. Is this you? Do you have these students in your class and school?
The correct answer is YES. Let’s open our eyes, let’s listen to understand. Let’s stop making out we have got this covered.
- Is it that we are not brave nor vulnerable enough to have these conversations openly?
- Do schools still view themselves as a one-stop shop, holding the key for all doors?
- Why do schools continue to roll out the same classroom programmes, interventions, and activities that they always have to no avail?
- Why is there a defensive stance when teachers and leaders are invited to open their minds to collaboration, new knowledge, conversation and possibilities for their students?
- How we can continue to roll out a system that sees students in this country progressing through 11, 12 or 13 years of education, and still (in some cases) leave or finish being illiterate/innumerate?
IT’s SIMPLE….— Ignorance is BLIND. Blind to the realities and battles of being and parenting these students. Blind to the realities of not being able to; read the newspaper, write your friend a birthday card, participate in social settings, join in with my mates in sports.
We may have % pass rates on our billboards throughout the country but what do these really mean? I am unsure of the number of school leaders across the country who are truly aware of the number of illiterate and innumerate students they have represented within these so-called pass rates. What’s in a pass rate?
Let’s take the blinkers off. Let’s understand this is not about individual teachers and leaders. This is about our children and their futures. To make a change we must continue to operate above the line. Our thoughts become our actions and our actions our behaviours. I set the challenge for every teacher, leader, principal, and BOT member. What will you THINK, how will you ACT and BEHAVE when engaging with these students, their families, and the external support agencies who also support them. Consider the reality that you cannot do this alone. Open your mind to learning more, but ultimately be the ROLE MODEL in these circumstances you would encourage your students to be.
Full Vision is within your reach. Turn the lights on and you just might see what a difference you can make.
Carla is the Founder and Director of Learning MATTERS Ltd. Carla has been a successful school Principal, Mathematics Advisor and Classroom teacher.