Dear Struggling Student: I Failed a Test this Year
For those of us who work with students with dyslexia, and don’t have dyslexia ourselves, we have to be extremely observant of our students. We have to develop empathy. We have to understand the nuances of each and every one of our students. I never tell my students I know how they feel. I make a very conscious effort to never tell them, or insinuate, they aren’t trying hard enough. But I am human. I have gotten frustrated, but I pull it together quickly and I verbally let the student know the problem is my teaching, not their learning. But nothing seemed to connect me more with my students than what I shared with them this year.
Data data data! Eligibility decisions and progress should be based on more than cold hard quantitative data because there is the equally important qualitative data that is more often than not, completely ignored in the decision making process. Qualitative data can include observations, miscue analysis, writing samples and observations of performance in timed and untimed situations.
At the risk of being a Debbie Downer, I wanted to share with you some facts about special education that you should know to prevent any unnecessary delays or frustration. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was enacted to protect children from being denied an education because of their disability. What many people seem to overlook is the fact that this legislation was not set up to provide special education services to everyone with a disability, because not every disability interferes with learning. So, it is not as easy as, Michael has dyslexia, therefore he is entitled to special education services. It doesn’t work that way. Continue reading
Today the school psychologist walked into the room where we were having our IEP meeting, saw me sitting at the table, let out an audible sigh and turned around and walked out. I am not kidding, this really happened. Of course, we have a history and that history includes him not wanting to hear anything anyone has to say about scores, eligibility, goals or dyslexia. He is the fast-talking wordsmith (used car salesman?) in an IEP meeting. He is the kind of guy that talks in circles so most parents, who don’t have support at IEP meetings, are given very little opportunity to question his decisions because he won’t allow it. He is unable to think flexibly and does not like it when there is someone in the room who knows more than he does – he is the expert, no wait, he is the dictator.