Everyday students with disabilities enter schools around the world. These students come to school with expectations of receiving the same education that their classmates are receiving, but sometimes find that doing so is difficult. About 50 percent of students attending school have been diagnosed with specific learning disabilities (Laureate Education, 2013). Many of the students with this disability struggle with reading, writing, mathematics and overall learning. Dyslexia is a disorder categorized under specific learning disabilities.
Dyslexia is a disorder in which a person has “serious difficulties decoding written words” (Friends & Bursuck, 2009, p. 251). The WGBH Education Foundation (2002) reports that “85 percent of students diagnosed with learning difficulties have a primary problem with reading and related language skills”. Students with this disorder often report issues with school and learning. Throughout this paper I will walk you through a day in the life of a student with dyslexia. Learning Experience Learning for me is hard. No matter how hard I try, I never seem to be successful.
Classes like English make me feel the dumbest. In English, we are always reading and writing something. My teacher often asks us to read a passage and answer questions about it in one class period. That’s just not enough time. While reading I often mix up the letters and the sounds that go with them (WGBH Education Foundation, 2002). This makes it difficult to figure out the words in the passage. Some of these words I have seen so many times, but I just don’t remember them. Once I have figured out the words, I usually realize that I have no clue what I just read.
During class discussion over the passage, I often realize that I’ve missed important details and have overlooked others (WGBH Education Foundation, 2002). When it is time to recall what was read and to analyze it I am usually lost. It is hard to remember what I read and make connections to things I already know that are related (WGBH Education Foundation, 2002). At the end of a class period, I am usually not done reading the passage. I usually listen to what my classmates say to answer some questions the teacher asks. I am usually not able to turn my work in at the end of the class period because I am not done reading.
I need more time. The next day, my teacher has a new reading passage and I get further behind. Feelings about Learning I love the classes where teachers do most of the talking or classes where physical activity is involved. In those classes I don’t usually have to read. Everyday, I dread going to English class because there is always reading involved. One of the things I hate most is reading aloud during class. My reading is not as good as my other classmates. When I read aloud, I read word to word and mess up a lot (Center for Parent Information and Resources, 2016). Sometimes my classmates laugh at me.
It is so embarrassing and makes me want crawl into a hole where no one can see or hear me. I feel like I am not smart and therefore withdraw myself from the classroom. My grades reflect my beliefs about myself. I have been held back a grade and my grades are low (Cortiella & Harowitz, 2014, p. 17). I never get recognized for being the “smart kid” in class. I am a failure. School Experiences My disability makes school a place I dread to go to. No one there understands me or what I am going through. For eight hours, I am subjected to learning that makes my brain work extremely hard.
My teacher thinks that I am just not motivated or lazy. Sometimes my teacher treats me like I am not as smart as other students. I always get bad reports sent home, which often leads to consequences with my parents. School makes me feel hopeless and like I will never be able to learn (Friends & Bursuck, 2014, p. 262). The courses I am successful are considered easy. I am good at physical activities where I can use my hands and strength. I do get recognition in those classes, but not for being smart. I feel like school is pointless. No matter how hard I try, I’ll never get it. Social Interactions
My disability is something I don’t want my friends to know about. In order to keep my disorder a secret I often do two things. I either withdraw myself from my classmates due to lack of confidence in myself or I act out to draw attention away from my disability (Friends & Bursuck, 2009, p. 262). Sometimes, I am unable to pick up on social cues from my classmates or I am afraid that what I have to say may be wrong. I often worry that my responses will not be relevant to what my classmates are discussing and they will make fun of me. Instead of joining in, I stay away to avoid any further embarrassment.
Other times, I misbehave to mask my disability because I’d rather my friends think that I don’t care about school or learning (Friends & Bursuck, 2009, p. 262). When I fail, I make comments about not really trying even when I know that I did. When I really don’t want my classmates to know I am struggling, I make jokes and try to get everyone to laugh. At least, when I do this no one thinks that I am dumb. What I Want From My Teacher I want my teachers to know that I am not lazy. In fact, I am working as hard as humanly possible and need their help in order to be successful.
Please give me more time to show you that I can complete your work (Center for Parent Information and Resources, 2016). One class period is simply not enough when dealing with dyslexia. Reading and comprehending one passage can take hours. When given that time, I am more likely to perform better. Please congratulate me for the things that I do well in the classroom. Sometimes, it takes more than just hearing it from my parents that I am smart. My confidence is not that great, due to years of bad grades. When I am doing something right I need my teachers to point that out to me so that I keep doing it and build confidence.
Please use several classroom techniques to help me read better. Previewing difficult words, using pre-reading strategies to make connections, and allowing collaborative reading opportunities are ways that may help me be more successful while reading in class (WGBH Education Foundation, 2002). Also, please consider using technology to help me learn (Center for Parent Information and Resources, 2016). When I am using a computer or tablet there are resources that are available to me that are not there during regular instruction. I am happy to use those resources so that I can submit my best work. Last but not least, do not give up on me.
I want to learn, but learning is hard for me. Push me, encourage me, assist me, but please do not overlook me. With your help and support, I can be successful. Conclusion As teachers, it is often difficult to imagine what our students with disabilities experience. Disabilities may present our students with challenges, but they should still gain a valuable education. Students who have learning disabilities are likely to be in every class we teach. As an English teacher, I often face students who have dyslexia.
Considering dyslexia through the eyes of my students has really helped me identify areas n which I need to grow as a teacher. My job is to prepare all of my students for life outside of high school, so that they can contribute to their communities in a positive way. By helping students become stronger and more confident readers and learner, I will impact the communities in which my students live. Their confidence might influence others with learning disabilities to keep trying. By changing the way I teach, I can influence students who would otherwise drop out to complete their education. Being aware of what students go through will help me be the teacher that I have always wanted to be.