This post is slightly different… I wanted to show you how the different sides of me view dyslexia and what it means to each of my personas as a dyslexic, parent of a dyslexic as a teacher and as a specialist. I am a very reflective practitioner and I believe this is because I spend time taking a step back to constantly view things from another perspective. This provides me with knowledge which is the fuel to improve my practise and drive it forward. No one, including myself, necessarily enjoys criticism or wants to think that they may be wrong, that their practise can be improved or tweaked, or actively chooses change but sometimes this is what can make the difference and what can make us better learners, better teachers and better people. We never have all the answers, we must never stop searching even if we think we have an answer because we can always learn and know more. It’s a hard and difficult lesson to learn, it requires patience and skill but it is a lesson which is worthwhile taking the time to learn and explore because it is a lesson which can make the most difference to ourselves and to others…
What dyslexia means to me… as a dyslexic..
To me it means weak spelling, slow reading, poor comprehension, low self esteem, constant fear of falling behind and constant anxiety in keeping up because if I fall behind I’ll never catch up. Dyslexia means constant overload of working memory. Always thinking, never switching off. I have always got my guard up as I don’t want to be caught out or appear stupid. I have a perfectionist nature. I never give up but, even now as an adult there are times often when I feel like what to have to give and offer is not equal or worthy in comparison to what others can give. It means forgetting or confusing appointments, having to write a million lists and feeling the you never really quite understand. I want to read and I have a real thirst for knowledge and to know stuff but I never feel like I have properly understood or comprehended the point. Dyslexia for me is having loads to say and knowing loads of stuff but not really quite having the words or feeling like you have explained it well enough or clearly enough that people understand you or that your voice can be heard. Dyslexia is not knowing how all the information in you head connects together. I am super Creative, and can think outside the box. I am a strategy developer, resilient and determined, never giving up. I can view things from another’s perspective, intuitive, emotionally literate. I have huge empathy and understanding of not wanting others to hurt as much as I do. However trying new things is scary, I always worry I’ll make a fool of myself and this does hold me back on many occasions. It’s self defence… Why put yourself in a position where people may laugh or judge you for not getting it right? Dyslexia to me is Frustration… Because I know I am capable of more but I want to build Rome in a day as my brain thinks faster that I can actually do. I’m my Harshest critique. I Have the battle in my head permanently but I will not be beaten by my thoughts and so the daily grind and battle continues and most days I win, however I’m human and sometimes the feelings do beat me. On these days I go to bed feeling dejected and exhausted and sometimes humiliated but I wake up the next day with a renewed determination, a renewed energy that will fuel a resilience that cannot and will not be beaten. Bad days are acknowledge but do not conquer or mean victory they mean work a bit harder and find, search, discover another way to break down the barriers I face living the life of a dyslexic, knowing it could always be worse and be grateful for all the skills I do have.
What dyslexia means to me as a parent
It means a battles over homework, reading, spelling and learning times tables. It means pain at watching your child suffer. Frustration that school can’t give him what he needs all the time. Walking the tightrope that is the balancing act of suggesting we read at home, at asking the teachers for more support without looking like an irritating and pushy parent. Picking up the pieces at home from all the times your child’s confidence has been knocked at school during the day. Scooping your child up and putting them back together because they feel they have nothing to offer or give the world, because all day they have been measured by what they find difficult. Pressure to keep up with the other pupils in the class, seeing the gap widen but being helpless to change it quickly or effectively. Dread that his younger siblings will catch up. Loathing report day and knowing that the levels won’t reflect his effort or ability but also feeling a failure as a parent because maybe I should have worked harder to support my child, or worked harder to make teachers understand. Wishing I could just take it all away. Nurturing and hooking out the gifts my child owns so that these shine brightest. Pulling them out of his disbelief, low confidence and self esteem. Building resilience without knocking his confidence. Exhausted by searching for opportunities for my child to shine without looking like a pushy parent, pushing my child too hard, providing opportunities to succeed and experience new things without pushing him too far out of his comfort zone.
What dyslexia means to me as a teacher
Pupils with poor spelling, poor reading, difficulties with pupils understanding and remembering timestables and routines. Pupils with poor organisation and processing language. Extra work in preparing resources, and thinking of different ways to present work including all approaches. Extra spelling sets and tests. Not enough time to meet all the needs in the class. Frustration. I know what the pupils need. I can’t physically do it with the time and resources I have. The challenge of finding a way to knock down the barriers for my pupils, I’m rarely beaten, a dog with a bone because my pupils will make good or better progress and they will believe in themselves. It’s my job to nurture and foster this so that they no longer question their ability and become an independent learner. It’s my job to make sure they reach the start line and feel confident enough to give new skills a try, gently pulling them out of their comfort zones so that they can begin to challenge themselves and become independent and confident learners. Communication with parents is key. It means sharing strategies, working together so that you can support each other not work against each other, complimenting the strategies you each employ. Provide an unconditional and listening ear for the parent and the child. Stand in the shoes of the pupil… Take a step back, view it from their perspective best you can… Take the pupils voice into consideration because they hold the key to their progress… It’s my job as the teacher to find the locks and take the pupil to them and show them the different ways they can unlock them. I need to make sure that I am starting from what they know so that the links and connections can build the bigger picture, so that they can file the information in a way that can be easily retrieved! It’s my job to love and care for my pupils unconditionally so that they feel safe to make mistakes and safe to try new things without feeling like they have let me or themselves down.
What dyslexia means to me as a specialist.
Finding the learning differences, I don’t see them as weaknesses I see them as strengths. I feel as if I have a lot of power… Not to boss people around or use to my advantage but to make a difference… Power to empower others to make a difference, power to disseminate information and knowledge that will change lives… I can help change and improve outcomes for dyslexic pupils providing them with support and opportunities and understanding which I never had… Through assessments I can explore how a person thinks and find the strengths so that these can be used to either overcome the weaknesses, or actually just short circuit the weaknesses because sometimes we really can just bypass them! I can provide recommendations and advice that shows teachers and parents and pupils how to fill in the gaps, ensuring the foundations are secure. Building confidence in pupils and staff that they can overcome the difficult bits and a difference can be made. Feeling like you have the ability to empower and change lives permanently for the better by shining a light, passing the torch or igniting a flame for a teacher by imparting knowledge that can make a positive difference to pupil outcomes. Constantly improving my knowledge skills and understanding so I better know myself and my difficulties but so that I build an understanding that can rival my fears but place me in a position where I can challenge teachers to change and alter their teaching so they can better meet the needs of dyslexic pupils. Learn from my pupils whether they are teachers, students or children because they teach me different ways to look at things all the time… They extend my knowledge and challenge what I know so that my learning never ends…
The different personas are like a life cycle… Each persona has a very important part to play… They each need each other to survive, if one of the links is missing we won’t move forward, we will survive but not necessarily live. We must learnt to respect and support each other, we share many traits for example we each get frustrated but for different reasons. Rather than feel frustrated we must learn to turn this around into a more positive feeling, asking for help support and guidance. This shows strength of character and a desire to make a change even if we don’t have the skills to change it yet we can develop them if we allow ourselves to be opened minded enough to view things from another’s shoes!
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