As a spec. ed teacher, I’m always looking for ways to make reading easier for my students with dyslexia. Thanks to twitter, I just came across a post by Jeff Dunn about a free font called Opendyslexic that can be used to help students who have dyslexic reading challenges. Teachers could use the Opendyslexic font in their handouts to make reading easier. I’m thinking students could also change the font of text to Opendyslexic. This is very exciting. Please let me know if you’ve tried the font and it really does make a difference.
You can get the Opendyslexic font here.
Monday’s child is fair of face,
Tuesday’s child is full of grace,
Wednesday’s child is full of woe,
Thursday’s child has far to go,
Friday’s child is loving and giving,
at least according to a nursery rhyme I remember from long ago. For most of my teaching career, I’ve been supporting kids who are filled with woe and have far to go like the Wednesday and Thursday child in the old nursery rhyme. I’ve found when children come to school filled with woe they can’t do their best. Chronic psychological stress is a form of woe, and it can thwart kids’ progress in school. Chronic psychological stress can negatively affect kids’ cognitive development, working memory, problem solving ability, attention and emotion regulation.
Clancy Blair’s discusses the negative effects of chronic psychological stress on student success in his article “Treating A Toxin To Learning” in the September/October issue of Scientific American Mind. Blair’s research supports the contention that chronic psychological stress due to financial worries, the inability to provide adequate child care, the crowded conditions and noise that accompany low income affects the thinking skills and brain development of very young children. But, it’s not only kids who live in conditions of poverty that suffer from chronic psychological stress. Kids from other family circumstances that involve divorce, death, overbearing or distracted parents and kids who have learning disabilities can also develop chronic psychological stress. Chaotic and poorly run classrooms and problems with peers can also cause psychological stress that can impact kids negatively.
Blair argues improving kids psychological well being by improving conditions at home and in the classroom would reduce stress and enable kids to do their best in school. To this end, Blair and his collaborators are doing two things. First, they’re testing a program that supports parents by teaching them better parenting skills to help them become more sensitive and able to structure learning experiences for their kids while providing a warm and caring home environment; and, second they’re testing a new curriculum that gives preschool and kindergarten kids more control over how they learn.
The education system has spent a lot of time and money trying to help academically at risk students succeed and stay in school until they graduate. I’ve taught in alternative programs that we hoped would give kids the support they needed so they’d do their best and graduate from high school. I think we should do all we can to help students. One of my department heads when I first started teaching told me I would be doing well if I helped my students become tax payers. I was too idealistic at the time to appreciate his advice. These alternative programs do give kids some extra support that helps a bit. But, I think we also need to give parents who are in psychologically stressful circumstances more support. I think if we help one another, we all benefit. I don’t mean just throwing money at a problem because that isn’t helpful in the long run.
I’m looking forward to seeing the data from Blair’s research. I hope there is a strong positive correlation between the support parents and students receive in the two programs and student success.
Usually during the summer break after I’ve been away from the craziness of the June classroom for a while, a good long while, I begin to reflect on my teaching practice for the previous year. Usually this reflection includes reflecting on expectations, mine and my students. I want to be sure my expectations are reasonable given the nature of the changing 21st century classroom and students. I’ve taught for 30 years so some things have really changed and some haven’t. Today, I’m reflecting on things my students have told me they expect from teachers that really have nothing to do with cell phones, ipads, tablets etc or the 21st century. Students have told me they would like teachers to
- not abuse their power and order students around as if they control their lives;
- respect students personal lives and not bug them about personal things that are none of their business;
- not yell at students because that just makes them mad and not want to listen;
- not talk about themselves all the time and show that they’re smarter than students are because students find it discouraging;
- not treat students like they don’t know anything;
- have respect for students no matter what they’ve have done before;
- listen to both sides of the story;
- be equally fair to all students;
- try to help all students have the best results in class;
- give less homework because it is hard to do homework by themselves if they cannot ask the teacher;
- give more free time in class to do homework;
- give less homework because it is boring and takes away from time with family and friends;
- let students eat in class because sometimes they are hungry in class and can’t stay awake in class;
- not give homework before the holidays;
- let students listen to music while working in class;
- let students watch videos in class and not have to write about them;
- to want students to pass their classes;
- to be helpful, respectful, and fun to be around.
Basically students want teachers to respect them, but then of course teachers want students to respect them, too. Respect is a two way street that is constantly under construction. My students’ expectations help inform my teaching practice and enables me to create an inviting classroom where my students and I can do our best.
You might want to ask your students to tell you what they expect from teachers. I found students are not shy about revealing their expectations. The expectations also make good starting points for discussions.
Filed Under Engaging Assignments and Activities for Students, Evaluation, Graphic Organizers, Learning Strategies, motivating students, Organization, positive climate, Special Education, Study Skills, The way I see it, underachieving students, Useful Handouts | 4 Comments
When I have students complete the their learning plans to prepare for evaluations, I review learning styles because I want them to be efficient in preparing for their evaluations. Many students are visual learners so the following chart would be helpful in reminding students what strategies to use for each learning style. I encourage students to use all learning styles and to continue to develop their less preferred learning styles. I tell my students learning styles are pathways to the brain so the more pathways you use, the better the results.
Compiled By: OnlineCollege.org