Learning Ally Blog: Access and Achievement

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Now more than ever, people with learning and visual disabilities are flourishing in the classroom, launching productive careers and becoming assets in their communities. This blog spotlights remarkable individuals who demonstrate that having a visual or print disability is no barrier to educational success.


3 Tips for Parent-Teacher Collaboration When A Student Has Dyslexia
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At Learning Ally, we hear from parents, teachers and students every day. When we came across this letter from teacher Bethany Ivie, we were touched by her openness about her experiences as both a parent of a child who learns differently as well as a public school teacher. After joining a support board for parents of children who have dyslexia, she sometimes found herself feeling like an "outsider" since she works within the school system. In this heart-felt letter, she shares her desire, as a teacher, to help all of the children in her classroom, but she also sympathizes with the frustrations as a parent herself.

 

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Dear Non-Educator Parents, After my child’s recent issues in school (explained in the previous post Being a Teacher with a Child Who Struggles in School) I joined a support group for parents of dyslexic children on Facebook to ask questions and see what other parents had experienced. MAN, was that a shock. It opened a completely different can of worms.
I realized that there is a total disconnect between parents and educators.
Parents and teachers need much better lines of communication. Many parents in the group are frustrated because they have been through the “system” so many times and there is so much red tape. By the time they get to dealing with the teacher, they are already angry and have pre-Teacherconceived notions about how their child is going to be treated.

In this Facebook group, there are some very great things posted. Pictures of severely dyslexic kids receiving their diploma, student work, motivational stories and lots of resources and knowledge from these parents who have spent hours studying the issue and finding tools to help their children.

However, many of the posts are directly related to something a teacher or school did that the parent disagrees with. These posts have been very difficult for me to read. I do realize that not all teachers are good teachers with effective teaching practices. However, I would venture to say 90% of educators are teachers who try their best and work very hard to do their job. Most teachers got into teaching because they love kids and want to help shape them. Yes, there are a few who are in it for the vacations (and they should find another job), but most teachers are here because they are passionate about helping children learn and become better.

Things all non-educator parents need to know:

1. Positive and personal contact is needed with the classroom teacher on a consistent basis to get the best results for your child. Teachers doparent teacher not know your child as well as you do and the Special Education training most of them have received is very minimal. Don’t wait for the teacher to call you, particularly if you have a child with special circumstances. They have the best intention of making parent contact, but it is okay for you to call first. Help them; offer solutions and strategies that you have found to be successful at home.

2. Follow the chain of command. First, speak with your child. If it is about grades on the parent portal or something they sent you a text about from school, wait to get more information before you make contact. While you should take your child’s explanation into account, just know that sometimes children only tell their personal view of things which may not be completely accurate. Then, if there is a problem that needs addressing, speak with the teacher first. Only as a last resort should you involve the principals or other administration. Most teachers want things to be as positive, efficient and successful as possible. Involving administration before the teacher has even been made aware of the issue isn’t fair.

Dad and son3. Be supportive of your child’s teachers. The person you are dealing with is where they are right now because they are passionate about helping children learn. They are doing the best they can, and most want all children to thrive.  In primary school, teachers teach multiple subjects with around 25 students per class. On the secondary level they are working with up to 200 students. In a class of 25 students it is not unusual for a teacher to have multiple Limited English Proficient students, Behavior Intervention Plans, students who require Response to Intervention documentation, 504 plans and Individual Education Plans.  In addition to all of these individualized circumstances, they are having to maintain classroom order, prepare for lessons, grade, make parent contacts, attend meetings and…teach. As a parent, you have one child that you are totally focused on. You are making sure that everything possible is being done for that child. You are on top of your child’s grades, behavior, work, IEP, whatever it may be. You will spot any mistake easily, but the best thing to do is be understanding. Most importantly, never talk bad about your child’s teacher or their actions (even if they are out of line) in front of your child.

Be kind. Be patient. Communicate. Collaborate. Most teachers really do want the best for your child.

 
11012273_723231068583_175757103_nAbout the Author:
When Bethany Ivie is not busy with her husband and three children, she is a hardworking educator and entrepreneur. With a passion for purpose, her blog, The Ivie League, covers a variety topics providing readers with an uncensored view into her personal life.
 
Learning AllyIf you are looking for support, please consider joining our Learning Ally community. We offer support for teachers, parents and students as well as over 80,000 human narrated audiobooks. We'd love to have you join us.
 


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