June 25, 2009

Curious George: Online teaching resources I'm about to go out teaching again, but this time my class is quite different, with 30 children age 11-13 all with varying degrees of either dyslexia, autism, or dyspraxia, or perhaps combinations in some instances. What are some useful resources about effectively teaching children with these particular needs?

I know the content I'll teach already; I'm looking for effective teaching approaches and behaviour management strategies that generally work for classes with individualised needs like the ones above.

  • This dosen't really answer your question but... My Mom was an elementary school teacher and taught for some years at a school where many of her pupils had various economic, medical, psychological and cultural challenges. I wasn't old enough at the time to understand what she was involved in but much later met some of her former students and their families. Their affection for her was surprising and quite touching. It seems that a compassionate and competent teacher can really make a difference. So, no advice to offer but lots of encouragement.
  • IANAT (where T == teacher), but I am severely dyslexic and, for the next couple of months at least, still nominally a student. I'm a big believer in OT approaches to dyslexia. There are lots of things that can be done to help a person in their weak areas, but ultimately a 'crutch', a route around the problems, can actually help the problem areas in the long run. Dyslexic (LD) people often find that they are educationally limited by their problem areas. 'I could be a great writer... but first I have to master handwriting.' An OT intervention can plug these holes and let them have a more normal education and personal development. While working on problem areas is still important, it's also important that his extra work not be allowed to interfere with everything else, or you could easily spend the rest of your life working on one thing, a thing which you're almost guaranteed to be pretty unsuccessful at. Furthermore, this approach allows you to work on your difficult things in a more low-pressure way. After many, many years of schooling my problem areas are still pretty crummy, but most of them are no longer crippling the way that they were when I was younger. Furthermore, I feel that I have been able to achieve at least something of my educational potential (perhaps more than I would have achieved if I hadn't had slow early years to spur me on, to give me something to prove by succeeding). In other words, try and find things which help each student to get around his or her problem, rather than letting the problem define them. If they can't write by hand, by all means work on handwriting, but also give them a keyboard so that they can also do other things rather than just endless handwriting.
  • tracicle: check your email.
  • islander: absolutely. I've met countless teachers who have built lifelong relationships with their kids, whether learning-disabled or not. It's so, so important. Dreadnought: yes. The class is already wired for sound working via keyboard. Writing for this class is far too stressful, and the attention spans aren't sufficient to come to grips with handwriting. It's not a huge focus and I'm pleased it's not. They're very visual and verbal in how they learn, so most of our learning will be discussion-based. My sister has dyslexia and struggled throughout school, eventually leaving at 16. Thirteen years later she finally thinks she's ready to continue her education. tellurian: email checked and responded-to.
  • I dont have any specific advice (altho I have worked with that population in the long past) I just want to say that you are embarking on a really challenging and very important task and you deserve the utmost for what you are doing. good luck!! dont let those wacky tweens drive you insane :)