Categories
ADHD Dyslexia Learning Differences Student Perspective

Fixing a Broken Model, Part 2

This student-authored post is part of a series that highlights student perspectives around learning and executive function in the classroom. You can read part 1 of this post here

An article written in the National Library of Medicine says that when dyslexic students are misunderstood, it “leads to a struggle with the teacher, with the parents and with themselves. The result can be a child deemed to be ‘incorrigible,’ a judgment which can further traumatize the individual.” As a student, I’ve always been annoyed by these misconceptions. Throughout my education, my annoyance led to frustration, my frustration led to anger, and my anger led to despair.

A Broken Model

The current educational system is not working, as it is not acknowledging everybody’s differences. The education system needs to be modernized; schools have been using the same model for decades. Most traditional school practices are outdated, not preparing students for modern life. In the words of Sir Kenneth Robinson, an educator known for working to revitalize the education system, “reforming is no use anymore, because that is simply reforming a broken model.”

Solutions

Schools need to work with their students to foster individualism. They need to create a place where students are able to explore what they want to learn in a way that they can learn it. Everybody has different strengths and weaknesses, so why are we torturing people by penalizing them for having weaknesses?

One of the easiest ways teachers can create a productive classroom environment is to engage with students and ask them how they feel. Making sure students feel comfortable interacting with their teacher and advocating for themselves is crucial. But it’s even more important that the teacher uses that information to help a student. If a student is struggling and has a solution, their teachers need to do everything in their power to make sure the student gets what they need.

A Path Forward

It’s becoming accepted that teachers must address all differences to create an optimal classroom environment. To truly welcome diversity, schools must accept diversity of thought. The goal of educational systems should be to create a world where students’ differences aren’t stigmatized but accepted; where it’s understood that everybody’s brain is just as unique as their physical appearance. We all have two eyes, two ears, one nose, and one mouth—and we look unique.

To truly create change, schools need to acknowledge their shortcomings and try to fix them by listening to student voices. By doing this, schools can help students’ individuality become their strength.

  • C. Solomon, Student Contributor

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org

Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org

The Institute for Learning and Development: ildlex.org

Categories
ADHD Dyslexia Student Perspective

Fixing a Broken Model, Part 1

This student-authored post is part of a series that highlights student perspectives around learning and executive function in the classroom. 

The majority of people have a physical appearance that is unique. Yet on an anatomical level, the components of each face are the same. Your eyes, for example, are in the middle of your face, about a nose width long and a nose width apart. The distance from your chin to the middle of your lip is the same as the distance from the middle of your lip to the corner of your eye.

Yet it is the small differences that shape your likeness, making you unique. The human brain is the same — even though we’re all human, there are a variety of factors that make everyone’s brains different.

In school, people tend to be defined by a few characteristics, and as someone with dyslexia and ADHD, my differences have always seemed to define me. I feel these differences every day.

I started to feel the impact of my dyslexia in first grade, before I was even diagnosed. Like many students with learning differences, I was misunderstood at school, and similar situations led me to feel annoyed, confused, and fearful. All of these emotions came from the message that school was instilling in me, that something was wrong with me.

In my experience, schools ignore, suppress, and neglect the things that they don’t understand, and that leads to students being neglected. When teachers don’t work to understand their students’ differences and how they learn best, it can leave students with the belief that they are inadequate and they will ever be able to do what is expected of them. That mix of emotions can be excruciating.

Thirty-three percent of educators believe learning disabilities are just laziness. This harmful stereotype is a perfect example of how the education system needs to change. The bottom line is in order to create a healthy learning environment for students with learning disabilities, these students need to be fully understood and that starts with education. It starts with ending the belief that learning disabilities are laziness or something that can be easily controlled.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this post. 

  • C. Solomon, Student Contributor

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org

Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org

The Institute for Learning and Development: ildlex.org

Categories
ADHD Dyslexia Executive Function Stress Studying

Student Perspective: The Need to Preview Material

Incorporating executive function strategies into your curriculum can make a big difference for students. This post is part of a series that highlights student perspectives around learning and executive function in the classroom. 

As a learner, it’s hard for me to finish assignments or do them correctly if I don’t know why I’m doing them. It is important for teachers to take time to preview material and explain the purpose behind assignments. Here are a couple of examples.

Preview Upcoming Topics

At the beginning of each trimester, it is beneficial to go over what the class will be studying. Many teachers try to do this, but in my experience, they don’t go in-depth enough. I would encourage teachers to give students more background information.

For instance, if you’re teaching about World War II in history class, tell students many aspects of what they will be studying instead of just telling them they will be covering World War II. Doing this helps students understand the scope of the material they will be covering in class and slowly eases them in, making them feel they have more control in the classroom. It’s also good for students to know what to expect once they get to the topic because it will seem less overwhelming than just jumping right in.

Preview Large Projects

It is also helpful to preview material before a large project. When introducing a new project to a class, it is essential to explain to students why the project is important. If students do not understand the reasoning behind the project, they may feel that the project is not relevant to them.

Another important step is to outline what the project should look like. While it may be difficult to present guidelines for more open-ended projects, it is vital for people who struggle with executive function.

Before you formally teach a topic or introduce new material, make sure your students have a brief understanding of what lies ahead so they won’t feel overwhelmed when they get to that topic. Previewing material can ensure that students are better prepared to complete their work and turn in higher-quality assignments.

To read more student perspectives, check out the Real-Life Experiences with Remote Learning series.

  • C. Solomon, Student Contributor

SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org

Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org

The Institute for Learning and Development: ildlex.org