Kudos to Matthew Friday for a beautifully written post on the gifts of being a dyslexic teacher. His experiences in his youth now make him an attentive a metacognitive teacher who richly understands his students’ experiences and their requirements to thrive in the classroom.
“Leaping ahead 15 years, I now find that having dyslexia is a gift to me as teacher. It gives me:
- Valuable insights into the challenges students face with literacy.
- The motivation to pay particular attention to the children who find paying attention difficult, who are “daydreaming” or distracted.
- The desire to devise special strategies and activities for students, which I can pass on to parents.
- The impetus to educate parents and even deal with their own learning needs (most of the dyslexic students I’ve taught have at least one parent who admits to having similar problems).
- The opportunity to act as a role model for students struggling with confidence, emphasising the increased capacity for imagination, visual learning, and creativity that comes with dyslexic brains.
- The chance to show children that some of history’s greatest artists, leaders, and inventors were dyslexic (this helps relieve some of the pressure and shame that students feel).
- The urge to make sure that my lessons have a visual element, which is useful for all learners, especially ESL students.
- The ability to prove that, like me, you can have dyslexia and still be a prolific reader and writer.
There are of course challenges that come with dyslexia. I have difficulties with:
- Remembering facts, sequences and lists.
- Being easily distracted with teaching.
- Anxiety when overloaded by instructions.
Some of my coping strategies are:
- Using spell-checkers and proof readers for everything.
- Writing everything in a notebook before I forget and become anxious.
- Layering my lessons with prompts so that I can remember the sequence and content.
If it’s our job to inspire, encourage, and empower all of our students, why aren’t we doing it with each other? I urge secret sufferers to declare their dyslexia — your students will be inspired. I challenge colleagues to support teachers with learning needs and celebrate their bravery. It’s time to talk about dyslexia…”
Read more here.