Misunderstanding of Learning Differences leads to Students NOT Graduating High School

Misunderstanding of Learning Differences lead to students NOT graduating high school

What if you understood the information read to you but when you read it to yourself it leaves you confused. 

{So the accommodation needed is for the information to be read to you or technology to read it to you and you select what method you need based on the subject you are working with}. 

What if you could tell someone the answers but to write it out would leave you struggling to find the words that would allow you to tell others what you know. 

{So the accommodation you need is a scribe or a device to allow you to transfer your words to paper -- again you select which method fits based on the subject and the type of writing required and your preference or skills developed}. 

What if these two things combined were not available to you when you had to complete the most important test of your young student life - the literacy test that allows you to graduate from high school. 

{Not only is the accommodation not set up based on the student's needs or preferences but at this point, relationships are breaking and the student is in a fight or flight mode when faced with the stress of the test and the person facing them.  When that happens they have two options - fight or run!}  

I question how accommodations that were needed were viewed as insignificant.  Or how a broken relationship between a student and a teacher would be viewed as the best solution to support a student to work through the test.  Or how focusing on the student's behaviour is the focus instead of helping them be successful.  

There are days I really don't understand but I will not give up. 

Let's focus on these things to support high school students: 

Accommodations - the ones that fit them, not a generalize statement on the IEP which no one really understands (just saying)

Understanding what the student needs - each student has different learning needs and it will change based on the topic, the teacher's method of teaching and what skills they have developed. That's where the accommodations move beyond the IEP.

Setting the student up for success (not failure) -  offer a safe place for the student to learn and offer the support they need to be successful with their learning. Remember: if they have a learning difference they have an average to above average intelligence. If they are not showing this...the system is not working.

Focusing on how relationships impact the fight or flight mode of a student - if there is conflict between two people due to the fight and flight response that is happening due to the shame the student is experiencing with their learning (as they still do not see how they learn - which is another blog post) and if the relationship is threatening or insulting - there will be conflict. And read Daring Greatly by Brene Brown (trust me...it's a must-read for this topic) 

All these parts need to be considered.

High school students need to succeed -- this is not a time to focus on their behaviour as if it is in isolation. All students want to succeed so help them do just that. 

If you are faced with a student that is avoiding high school consider this...

They don't want to be there because they are not successful!  Would you want to be somewhere that makes you feel like you are 'not enough'?  

They need to see how they learn.  They need to see success.  They need to understand that they are capable of so much.

BUT if the barriers are there too long - it becomes hard to see what is the real issue and soon the focus is on the student.  They miss class.  They don't care.  etc. etc.  But they are avoiding shame. They may not even know that's what they are doing.  But being tough or absent or funny is better than the pain of shame. 

It breaks my heart.  Smart kids are not reaching their potential.  So many of them because they do not fit the traditional ways of learning.  

Accommodations are as individual as the person needing them.  They are not a small insignificant thing -- they are as important as a child's future!  

Stop and consider how you are allowing a student to succeed -- listen to what they need.  And when you don't know what is needed to support them - ask someone that does.  



Susan Schenk