Kelliefish13's Blog

Travel writing, Poems and Stories


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Dyslexia

I have just read about what its like to receive an asperger diagnosis as an adult and found it really interesting.
It made me think about myself and my lack of diagnosis for dyslexia. Which I am certain I have but have never got diagnosed as its expensive and I don’t currently have a use for it.
But I would like to tell about how I got here, and what it was like growing up not knowing.
When I was younger I had no idea at all, I remember clearly waiting in line fore the teacher to look at my writing watching the children in front of me have their work read easily by the teacher and only a few spelling corrections made. Then it was my turn, I had written less than half of what they had and I needed to read it to the teacher as she couldn’t make sense of the jumble of letters I had put down. The teacher was fantastic she never made me feel less for my work, however I could see what other children in my class could do and knew mine wasn’t anywhere near as good. I felt stupid, it was gutting. My parents had talked to my teachers numerous times about my writing and asked if their was anything that could be done they were assured I was doing fine and was a bright child, which was usual at the time as dyslexia was not acknowledged by the government and teachers were not taught how to pick it up. This carried on throughout my schooling and though I heard the term dyslexia I thought it mostly applied to reading and I was good at reading and loved it, even though the words on the page would often move around on me and I would have to re read things when they didn’t make sense, along with not being able to sound tricky words out I had a system where I just recognised them as a word that starts with ___ and looks long with lots of up pointy bits and would work out the meaning for out of context, which meant I didn’t recognise them when I heard them aloud (I also had many other weird ways of doing things to make the words readable, most of which I didn’t know weren’t normal). I think the reason I could read so well is that from when I was born I was read to so much by all the adults around me that I couldn’t help but love books and stories. English in high school was hard but I enjoyed many of the topics just found it frustrating when trying to show what I knew. University was even harder and I found myself failing a science paper twice even though I had put a lot of effort into learning the material, along with spending long hours writing assignments trying to get the information out of my head and onto paper, before it disappeared or scrambled. Towards the end of my time at university I decided to find out what dyslexia was as I my Mum had mentioned a few times that I probably had it and it was making things hard for me. So I looked it up on the internet and to start off with didn’t find that much but I kept looking and reading and finally found a few websites with more detailed informations. I looked through the long lists of symptoms and realised that it was so much more than bad spelling and reading. I started to realise that I wasn’t stupid, or going mad like I had thought on occasion my brain just worked differently and that so many of the things I had struggled with were just part of being dyslexic. Suddenly my world made sense, I made sense to myself. I told a few people, my family went yeah, so, what’s new? then didn’t really want to hear any more about it, a few friends didn’t believe me and a few more didn’t seem to see why I thought that this was important. But to me it was huge suddenly things started making sense and I could understand myself more. Since then I have been talking with one of my work colleagues whose daughter is dyslexic and has been receiving help through her schooling about many of the weird things that she does and that I do or have tricks to get around it. One of the weirdest ones was that for a while her daughter kept turning around or would look off to the side because she kept seeing movement out of the corner of her eye, turns out it was part of the dyslexia. I have that too, only I never knew what it was so when I was young and ghost stories were in fashion I figured I must be seeing ghost out of the corner of my eyes and they would disappear when ever I tried to see them properly and have been terrified of ghosts most of my life. Still slightly scared and believe in them but am not quite so terrified any more.
Its not such a big deal now, I do still find lots of things frustrating and feel like I am going mad, but at least I know why and have some strategies to help. I try and practise things that I know I am weak at writing this blog is one of them, word puzzles are another to try and learn things that will help me in the long run. I laugh when I manage to rearrange words in a sentence while speaking, I point instead of saying left or right, along with thousands of other tricks and odd things I do to pretend to be normal, and occasionally I say I’m dyslexic to explain they way that I am. It may be frustrating at times but it makes me who I am.


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Achievement

I have been thinking today about achievement and what happens when we aren’t achieving what we should be.
A year or so ago I was really struggling in my job, it seemed like things kept piling up on top of me, I was getting pulled up for not doing things right, so I would try and change them and somehow manage to do something else wrong and overall I felt like I was failing. This had a huge impact on me, I felt really stressed, I wasn’t sleeping very well, I felt really guilty because I wasn’t doing my job right and I started feeling like there was something that was wrong with me. This of course just made it all keep getting worse. In the end I decided it was time to try something new and have gone travelling.
It was the best choice I think I could have made, while travelling I have been working in a similar but less responsible version of my job and my confidence is slowly increasing again, so that I no longer need a complete career change but I am still really worried about going back to what I was doing before.
What concerns me is this is happening everyday in our classrooms. Children are trying to keep up with our ever changing curriculum and a few are always being left behind and they get further behind each year. They know they are being left behind, they look around and compare their work to others and see, the listening to class discussions with no idea what people are talking about, they over hear adults conversations. Imagine feeling like you are failing from the time you start school? If that was how I was feeling for a few months I can’t imagine how soul destroying it must be for those children.
Now I know that’s why we vary the curriculum, so they have other activities in which they can succeed at and enjoy, which kinda works. Its why we sort children into groups so they are working with children of similar ability, and why some schools stream their students.Along with using lots of praise and setting up tasks which they can do. But is it enough? What else could we do?


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Bullying

Bullying seems to be a very well publicised problem at the moment which I think is great. Its something that needs dealing with at a large scale because it has been for so long ignored and just part of life. Wouldn’t it be great if it didn’t have to be.

There seems to be a lot of stand up for yourself talk going on, get adults involved and let them deal with it which is good. But sometimes it not enough and it the people around us that can make the most difference.

We need to be teaching the children to stick up for their friends, their classmates, their siblings, the people around them. When they hear someone calling someone else a name they tell them to stop, to go away, to leave them alone. Its hard to stand up to someone who is being mean to you, its much easier when someone else will stick up for you as well. Teachers and parents can’t be everywhere at once and can’t always be there to stop what is happening, but at school there is almost always other children around. I am thankful for the friends and people in my classes at high school that told a certain boy to go away, to shut up, or to leave me alone. It worked, his words were a lot less believable when others were telling him to stop.

If we can teach our children not only to stand up for themselves but to stand up for others, we are teaching them to be leaders. We are teaching them to stand up for what they believe in and act with determination and courage. What better way could we prepare them for the future.


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Being Polite

Being a teacher I spend a fair amount of my day harping on about things like saying sorry, please and thank you and as I was sitting on the bus I saw a 13 year old boy hope onto the bus and very politely say a return ticket into town please, it was perfect. But is it worth it? Should I bother trying to teach manners?

I decided saying sorry was very important to learn especially for kids who are constantly rushing past and bumping into each other, who don’t realise their strength, and who don’t look where they are going (too enthusiastic and still learning, not malicious). For these things I teach that if you hurt or annoy someone that it is important to say I’m sorry I didn’t mean to because that way the other person knows its an accident and you weren’t trying to hurt them (which is confusing if you don’t know and I often get children telling me that so and so doesn’t want to be their friend any more, how do they know? the other child ‘hurt’ them as often as not the other child has no idea what they had done and upon asking other children it is usually an accident like stepping on someone’s fingers, bumping into them as they go past etc). And before someone goes into it it takes many children until they are at least 7 before they can tell with some accuracy when someone has done something on purpose or by accident (I am not quoting studies just what I have seen from watching children at playtimes and in a classroom).
Learning to apologise when you have made a mistake is important, it takes away the confusion for the person affected.

But what about please and thank you? Are they as important?
They definitely make what your asking sound better, and from my experience they tend to make it more likely that the person your asking will say yes. Which is a rather important part of the whole exchange, I don’t normally ask people for something hoping for them to say no. Also it makes the person you asking feel better about it (generally not always), I myself love being told thanks for that etc, and am more likely to help out that person again even if it means going out of my way to do so.
But back to the classroom, one complaint I often hear is she/he stole my rubber/pencil sharpener/pencil etc 9 times out of ten they were just borrowing it but hadn’t bothered to ask, so then I model “please may I borrow your pencil sharpener?” or “can Mary please borrow your eraser?” to which the child being asked normally looks up nods/hands me the item and carries on with what they are doing. So then remind the borrower that that is a good way of getting what they want.

The conclusion I have come to is that manners are important mostly to stop confusion because it communicates to the other person what you need, that your are grateful or that you didn’t mean to. Just asking may/can I, may not actually need a please and is miles ahead of just taking but it helps. Thank you and sorry are the most important.