Saturday, January 9, 2016

Diagnosing Learning Struggles

A testimony:  I am really beginning to see that education is similar to the medical profession.  I once had a doctor (the one who treated me during my illness at 16) who refused to "treat" me until he figured out exactly what was wrong. He would only give me Tylenol to ease pain.  My mom would yell, "Please do something!"  And in his calm manner he would say, "Now Deloris, I am not going to just give her something.  I have to wait to see what is really wrong."  In this process of free learning, I find that it gives me room to really learn a see how they see where the struggles really are.  Sometimes people teach as if they are going to use a tic-tac to treat cancer.  They just give the students whatever and hope for the best.  Education should not be that way.  Each child was created by God to think and retain in a certain way...a very specific way.  It should not be like Russian Roulette.  To be even more clear:  I have a student who has always struggled with reading.  His mom brought him to me because no school was really able to help him improve (and LORD I pray we can be successful).  He had great phonics understanding...good comprehension, but somehow his reading was poor.  We placed him in his own group.  I talked to his mom and because he kept squinting when he read we had his eyes checked.  Nothing.  Mom and I kept meeting and discussing possibilities.  Then one day I happened to ask her "Does he read a lot?"  She told me  hardly at all.  Only when he HAS to.  So I realized that the problem may be as simple as issues with his fluency.  He just needed to practice reading fluently.  I had these old fluency drill books that I pulled from my stash and started working with him on it.  He immediately latched on to it!  Even started practicing reading and timing himself in his bed at night.  He came in to school  and said, "Ms. Anika!  I got almost to the end of the page in a minute!"  Then he starts to invite his friends to "race" with him.  He got to a point where he wanted to keep practicing over and over, competing with himself.  This all makes sense.  He LOVES sports. He's very good at them.  He is competitive.  We are still doing his reading assignments, but incorporating this, we are already seeing an improvement and it was simple to just stepping back and giving the student room to present the root of the problem to us.