Table of Contents
1 Introducing the placement setting and experience.
2 Teacher’s support to children with dyslexia in maths.
2.1 Additional learning needs of dyslexic students.
2.2 Teachers meeting additional needs of dyslexic students in Maths.
3 Concluding reflections about placement experience.
The reflective journal discusses my experience of placement setting. I have done a 15 days’ work placement in Year 3 primary school in my class. I have completed my placement-based experience and have managed it for more than 5 days. The setting was a class setting of Year 3 of a primary school. The setting was a wide classroom wherein the teacher’s voice amplified and reached the entire room. There were three rows where dozens of wooden desks were placed having attached chairs. The back wall of the classroom consisted of posters, diagrams as well as models made by the student which was named as ‘Interactive Math Word Wall’. The point of interest relevant to the placement setting was its accommodation which fostered the learning and management of dyslexic learners along with other common learners. Thus, the classroom setting accommodated heterogeneous learners having different needs.
I saw a positive placement experience wherein the classroom was designed to help and support all kinds of learners. In the placement setting, I came across a student who had possible dyslexia diagnostic and the teacher was giving him extra support for his dyslexic needs. Mathematics is not an easy subject and thus, dyslexia among Mathematic students is really challenging. It becomes very important to guide such learners through the learning process so that they learn more effectively. In this placement setting, I was involved in supporting children’s progress within the classroom. It was a learning experience as I came across the learner who had difficulty identifying and calculating numbers.
I came to know that students suffering from dyslexia have a difficulty in understanding simple number concepts and facts and also face difficulty in grasping numbers. I noticed that the particular student was not able to catch the speed of his fellow classmates. Exercises in the classroom were the same for all; however, the child with possible dyslexia diagnostic was trying his best to complete different exercises as per his possibility. I helped the teacher in preparing different activities for all the students in the class. I used to pay extra attention to that particular child who was smart but at the same time, catching his attention was very difficult. Overall, the placement setting as well as my experience of 15 days in this setting was good wherein, I have learned a number of things, especially with regard to special needs of learners.
The focus topic of the reflective journal is ‘How the teachers can support children with dyslexia in maths. After having gained experience in the placement setting, I have been drawn towards that particular dyslexic student. I have been thinking about him and how he faced difficulties in learning maths and that too in a heterogeneous environment wherein he was learning with his other fellow classmates who were not dyslexic. Considering this scenario, I chose the focus topic of how teachers can play a significant role in supporting students with dyslexia in mathematics. Having worked with the teacher closely in the placement setting, I came across the determination and support of the teacher who made sure that the dyslexic student gets a learning environment so that he can excel. I believe that the role of a professional in any kind of disability works wonders.
A person with disability can be provided support and help only when a professional is ready to help (Lyytinen 2018). Learning disabilities are very challenging and they cannot be overcome simply by the person having the disability (Satapathy 2019). He is always in need of support from a professional who can help him not only in learning but also in leading a life full of respect, dignity and opportunities. Having considered this important role of a professional in supporting an individual in learning disability, I have considered this focus topic which emphasizes on the ways through which teachers can support children with dyslexia in mathematics. I want to discuss this topic as I personally feel that the role of a teacher in supporting dyslexic students is worth discussing as it will help in creating better learning environment for such students. Here are some key points about the focus topic.
Dyslexic students really need extra educational support from the educational institutions. Since dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty, therefore, the students have extra learning needs and support (Basu and Beniwal 2018). In understanding and processing information, dyslexic students face difficulties and thus, special education needs are sought after. Such students need assistance to develop appropriate strategies which can help learn concepts. Students are unable to conceptualise numbers as well as outcomes of numerical operations. I have witnessed all these difficulties faced by the child in the placement setting. I observed that the child could not understand the numbers written on the board as well as books. He used to write majority of the numbers inverted and also was not able to apprehend the meaning of various signs of addition, multiplication, division and subtraction. In addition to this, I have observed that his teacher used to always repeat those sentences which involved multiple instructions. For instance, sentences like ‘Turn to Page 24 Paragraph3 Line 4’ were repeated so that he can process the information by breaking it in bits and providing extra time. The student had additional learning needs in the form of presentation of information in spoken and written form. Also, since the processing of mind is slow, the student required additional support in the form of multisensory instructional approach which makes it easy for the student to learn and apply mathematical concept using different senses such as kinesthetic, visual as well as tactile (Balakrishnan et al. 2017).
One more thing that I have observed in that placement setting is that the dyslexic students need either a small group or one-on-one settings which can help them in grasping more information because the information processing in such students is quite slow as compared to non-dyslexic students.
Considering the additional needs of learning and support of dyslexic students, it has been identified that the teachers as professionals have an important role to play in supporting these students. Children are likely to gain success when they have been supported and encouraged by someone early in their lives. Teachers are likely to create an incredible support system by paying attention to each and every detail of the students’ feelings, problems and behaviours (Chinn 2018). It is very important on the part of teachers to listen to children’s feelings so that they come to know about their fears, depression as well as anxiety and can help in solving these problems. Learning and education is not about just subject but it is about acquiring knowledge and holistic development of the learners (Fan et al. 2016). It is seen that the first and foremost role of a teacher is to instil confidence among the dyslexic students as they suffer a lot of criticisms and fear.
Learning and education should start from preparing children to face difficulties in an early stage and thus, teachers play an important role in helping cope up with difficulties of dyslexia especially in Mathematics (Walker et al. 2016). It is not just about numbers but also about the language. Dyslexic students often face difficulty in expressing their feelings. I have observed this in the placement setting wherein that student was not very expressive. Apart from the problem in mathematics, the student faced difficulty in expressing his problems and concerns. There was this one incident where the student could not understand the two digit addition with carryover. It was really confusing but he could not speak in front of everyone. At that point of time, the teacher inquired about his problem and asked whether he understood the concept of carry over addition sums.
The teacher taught the student that it his duty to ask questions whenever there is any doubt and he can ask the teacher to repeat the process again slowly. The teacher instilled confidence in him by motivating him to ask questions. After the class was over, I have seen the teacher indulge in different strategies and activities to teach math to that student. Even I helped the teacher in these strategies. The teacher identified the strength of his visual and spatial learning skills as a result of which better strategy was devised to help support the dyslexic students. For instance, multimedia online math curriculum was used by the teacher so that the student can incorporate mathematical and arithmetic concepts visually as well as kinaesthetically. This way the teacher not just instilled confidence among the student but also helped him learn concepts in the most convenient manner by utilising the skills in which he excelled.
Adding to this, the teacher in the placement setting had understood the professional role and thus, the teacher emphasized on the multisensory game play to motivate the students which are flexible enough in customising as per the needs of the students. Also, specific math concepts are taught to be applied in real life which gives a boost to the learning of dyslexic student. With respect to teaching dyslexic students, it has been observed that the role of a teacher enhances as various areas of learning are to be covered. Teachers are responsible for the holistic development of the students as dyslexia can be a major learning disability which can hamper the growth of the students (Reid 2019). It is seen that in such case, the teachers have to assume greater responsibility not just as an education provider but also as a motivator and mentor who guides the students in the early stages of learning (Phillips and Kelly 2016). The time spent in schools is a major part of the development of the child and thus, teacher should play the role of a facilitator in shaping the future of the students (Oehlers-Jaen et al. 2016).
In addition to this, the teachers can further support the dyslexic students by making use of helpful arrangements. For instance, dyslexic students need to be given a sheet of key information which covers the lessons and the key words. The students can take the notes and do not have to worry about copying everything before it is wiped from the blackboard (Sumardi et al. 2019). Also, the marks of dyslexic students should be based on ideas and efforts. Teachers should make a note that the dyslexic learners may be less skilled than non-dyslexic learners but at the same time, their creativity and innovation needs to be praised (Bird 2017). If such children have made any efforts in showcasing new ideas and creativity, then they must be praised and should be marked accordingly. For instance, if dyslexic students have prepared models of maths, then such creative activities need to be considered and should be included in grading. In the placement setting, I have seen that the dyslexic student was given certain projects on mathematics wherein he used to show his creative and artistic skills. That particular student was very good in painting and art which was even showcased in mathematics. Some of his grades were based on the models and projects that he used to make and thus, the creative efforts were taken into consideration.
It has been assessed that dyslexic students face a lot of difficulties in learning, especially in mathematics wherein there are many complications. It has been learnt that the needs of such students are quite different as compared to non-dyslexic students. They need more attention, care and an inclusive environment where they can learn with additional support and without being fearful. The most important role is of the teacher who guides dyslexic students and provide them with learning.
With respect to the placement experiences, I have a lot of feelings and observations. This has been a good learning experience as I have not only learnt about the difficulties faced by dyslexic students but at the same time, have learnt about the significant role played by teacher in supporting dyslexic students especially in maths. By being a part of the placement setting, I have understood the struggles of dyslexic students as well as the teachers assigned to them who are paying attention to every need of such students. I am really grateful for this experience, as I was provided with the opportunity to observe such minute details of this learning disability and how teachers have a magnificent role to play. It was my honour to work with the teacher in order to help that kid by formulating different activities that supported his disability. The placement experience exceeded my expectations as I didn’t know that I will get to be a huge part of this and contribute to help support students (especially dyslexic student).
I enjoyed being a part of this experience and have gained a plethora of information about the learning disability as well as the assistive methods which can help in coping up with dyslexia. I have gained so much from this experience that in my near future I see myself as a professional who will be contributing in supporting dyslexic students. This experience has really made a mark and I will continue to help such kids who are in need of support and help. By this placement activity, I have searched a lot of information over internet and have come up with new ways and strategies to deal with dyslexic children studying maths such as making use of geometry and spatial sense. I believe that teaching is a noble profession as knowledge and learning is imparted to the learners. I do think that teaching and making dyslexic students learn is a very noble thing that I can do in my life. I believe my learning and education will all go in vain if I am not able to impart knowledge among those who need it.
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