Dear Educators

Dear Educators,

Thank you for doing what you do.

I write to let you know that it doesn’t take much to change the life of one child. Your impact can be magical. And. I don’t think it takes much.

I know that the easier route is to do things the way you have always done them. That sometimes it’s easier to take the “multiple choice test” approach rather than working to create projects and oral assignments and technology-based learning.

I know that you aren’t always given the tools to recognize different learning styles and how to reach those children. That you aren’t always taught (or incented) to recognize that a child performing at average might need to be challenged more and just because they are OK, doesn’t mean they can’t be great.

I know that you are given an onerous task of readying your students for hours of standardized testing to ensure federal dollars and state-wide rankings. And, I know you probably remember a time when 9 year olds were allowed to do projects and experiments and not have to learn stress management techniques.

But, carry on educators. Even with all that’s allied against you, the life of a student will be and can be changed by your kind words. By your willingness to create a slightly different approach for a kid with processing issues. Or to find a different incentive and punishment structure for a kid with ADHD.

This time last year, my bright, easy going son started winding tightly into a coil of concern. anxiety and disappointment. He was crying about school. Repetitive about assignments being completed (“Mom, did you sign it? Did you sign it?”). Most of all, he was withdrawing from himself and the person that he could be, He ended the year with only two As on a report card that included a C in the area we now know is his specialty. Math. We had to hide the report card as his face, his being, fell when he saw it.

After a year of testing and fighting and wondering and learning, we now know he has dyslexia. We entered the school year with a plan and we we know how to help him. We are doing work on the side – phonemic awareness and repetition to rewire his brain. His teachers are doing work at school to give him the educational experience that he deserves.

They provide him with compliments recognizing that a fragile ego is a common side effect of stress and concern. They create alternate assignments – such as typing the spelling lists in sentences instead of expecting memorization. They have a conversation with him to gauge understanding instead of a multiple choice test. They let him go at his own pace. Require him to write his work in a structured and organized fashion.

And, they have changed his life.

He now is buoyed by the opportunity to go to school. A change in the schedule which would have turned him sideways last year is taken as a momentary blip – as it should be – this year. Most importantly, he thinks he is smart, he loves to learn, and he wants to do more.

He did extra credit for the first time. He reads out loud to his brother and sister at night – from his favorite series, Percy Jackson – he has read all 10 in the series since January. His report card? Straight A’s. Pride.

So take heart, educators. Take the extra time to go a little further, and you can be the one that will turn a kid around. Be a part of family lore. The ones that got it right.

You can get it right for so many.

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