Becoming a teacher was my goal since the fourth grade! After graduating from San Jose State University, I began substitute teaching. While searching for my first full-time position, I learned there would be a couple of jobs openings coming up which required a summer training course.
That training, which I took, happened to be the Slingerland teacher training, an Orton-Gillingham approach. Afterwards, I was hired to teach at Eliot School, a magnet school where all the teachers were Slingerland-trained and the students were screened for Specific Language Disability (aka “dyslexia”). I didn’t realized at the time that it was highly unusual for this approach to be used in the public school system.
I am so thankful to have had that experience. There are too many students out there whose parents and teachers may not recognize the telltale signs of dyslexia.
I have come to feel that the “happy accident” of falling into this line of work was perhaps not such an accident, after all! Perhaps it was the path I was destined to follow!
I strive to be my students’ cheerleader, to let them know that they are talented, gifted, and so intelligent in so many ways, and that they have definite gifts to share with the world! I remind them that we ALL have strengths and weaknesses, and while we need to work on improving our weaker areas, we need to also work to develop and celebrate our unique talents and strengths.
Advice for Parents
Parents should trust their gut instincts about their child’s reading ability, as they know their own child better than anyone. As we know, educators (as well as the general public) have varying levels of knowledge and understanding about dyslexia. If the parent is being told that the child will “outgrow” the learning difficulties, or “it’s a developmental thing”, the parent should follow his/her instincts and seek further information.
While students can be remediated even when older, early intervention is best. Make sure the child is receiving the appropriate instruction, which should be the Orton-Gillingham approach, or one of its derivatives, as these approaches are systematic, structured, sequential multi-sensory teaching approaches.
Learning Ally is a great resource for parents and students! It’s so helpful for students to be able to get their books on audio for “ear reading.” I like to inform parents about the events put on by Learning Ally for parents and students, including the wonderful YES! Ambassadors’ presentations, where students with dyslexia share with other students strategies and technologies that have been helpful to them.
It’s awesome to see these students lead other students in taking ownership of their dyslexia, identifying their own strengths and weaknesses, while also sharing this helpful information with their classroom teachers and other school educators.
It is so vitally important for our children with dyslexia, who have so many talents to share with our world, to be taught in the way the learn. Let’s help them grow into the spectacular, creative and inventive people they were born to be!
If you would like more information on Learning Ally for your child or school, visit LearningAlly.org. As a national non-profit, many of our services are either fully paid for or supplemented by donations from our supporters.
– Jules Johnson
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