Dyslexia

As a tutor I work with a few children who have had recently been diagnosed with dyslexia.  Often it is the parent’s who struggle more than the child.  They wonder if or how to tell the child, what it means for their future and sometimes even what they have done wrong.  The simple answer is you know what is right for your family, but you have done nothing wrong, nothing at all.  You wouldn’t ask yourself this if your child had blue eyes or was tall, so why ask it about another fundamental part of them?  There is often a sense of relief to the child when they find out.  They realise that it is not their fault learning can be hard at times.  But there are also a range of other benefits to being dyslexia.  These can include –

Determination

It is at this stage that parents struggle to see how dyslexia has helped form their wonderful child already.  For a start, they are going to have a range of coping mechanisms already in place.  They have found what works for them and they use it.  These children are often determined and find a way to make the world work for them.

 

Spotting Links

Those with dyslexia can often see the big picture a little clearer than those without.  They can often identify the odd one out or find the thing which is out of place.  This helps them memorise and identify complex images, a great skill for engineers or scientists!

 

Thinking in Pictures

Whilst those with dyslexia can have huge verbal dictionaries they tend to think in pictures.  This can make thing lego or art a lot easier for them.

 

Business Entrepreneurial Skills

One in three entrepreneurs in the states have dyslexia.  Their brains perhaps are more strategic and creative than others and this can be a real business advantage.

 

Highly Creative

Johnny Depp, Picasso and Davi Pilkey (author of the Captain Underpants books) are just some famous creative people who have dyslexia.  Depp needs to learn his lines and Pilkey writes books, just because your child has dyslexia does not mean they are in any way restricted.  Plus, they tend to be more creative!

 

There are many more strengths of dyslexia.  It really is not a bad thing!   Have a look at the below image for an idea of some careers where dyslexia can be of benefit!

 

dyslexia strengths

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Why I Switched to Supply Teaching

This time last year I was nervous.  I had been a teacher a long time, yes, I had tried to leave the classroom once before but only lasted 6 months until I ran back to it, missing the children and the camaraderie amongst the staff.  But I was looking to leave the school I was in come summer.  I was going to become a supply teacher.  What drove me to this and was it the right move?

People think teachers have it easy, they work 9 to 3 and have a ton of holidays.  If only that were true!  The last couple of years I had worked part time, just 3 days a week in school.  This meant 3 days of working 7.30am to 5.30 or 6pm, with a 20-minute break to quickly inhale a lunch.  This alone was roughly 30 hours a week in school.  These days were primarily filled with the children, during which a teacher makes more decisions per minute than a brain surgeon!  But, these days were also filled with marking 30+ jotters for each curricular area that day (often over 100 pieces of work, each day), tidying, updating displays, looking out resources for lessons, liaising with parents, staff and other professionals, fighting the photocopier, determined it would work for the scant sheets I was allowed to copy and a myriad of other tasks!

Then one of my “days off” was generally used to do admin and other bits there was no time for amongst the hubble and bubble of the school day.  This was when I would sit and try and plan interesting, stimulating lessons taking into a count the children’s likes and abilities.  I would write report cards, complete reports for external agencies (if they were allowed to leave school grounds) and attempt to keep abreast of ever changing schemes of work, national changes to the curriculum and changing wider government policies.  I would also complete my daily plans, weekly plans, termly plans and update the yearly overview and complete umpteen other pieces of admin all designed to prove I was doing my job to the best of my abilities, because being good at admin makes a great teacher, right?!  And lets not forget I would often try and track down resources for school which I would buy myself as budgets were non-existent but they would improve the children’s learning experience.  All of a sudden, my 21.5hour week was closer to 37hours.  Add a school show, disco, parents night, curriculum evening etc and all of a sudden my 21.5hour contract equated to over 40 hours of work a week, squeezed into just 4 days.

Unfortunately, these working hours were not due to me being a workaholic.  It is the norm within teaching in Scotland.  It is suggested that teachers here in Scotland work an extra 11 hours a week on top of their contracted 35 per week.  There are 39 weeks in an academic year.  This means the average teacher is working 1794 hours within those 39 weeks.  Compare this to your average worker, who works 37hours with 25 days holiday a year and 10 days public holiday will work roughly 1665 hours a year.  A teacher is working, on average just 129 hours extra a year, not a lot.  But when you consider this is squeezed into just 39 weeks you quickly see how teachers can become exhausted!

Added to this is management who get caught up in their roles and forget why they became teachers in the first place.  They start believing council targets, test results and the budgets are more important than the people in the school, that is the staff and the children.  Yes, they have difficult roles and are often not trained in how to manage people, but this should not mean they lose any sense of empathy, as I have unfortunately experienced first-hand.

These are some of the reasons which combine to lead up to 40% of teachers to consider leaving the profession in the next 18 months, clearly something has to change.  It certainly combined to make me determined not to work as a full-time teacher and even made me question whether being “part time” was even worth it.  My husband agreed with me and we decided it was not.  I had tried to leave the classroom once before and I missed it too much.  I decided this time to try supply teaching.

So how has this year been so far you may ask, do I miss the security and consistency of the same school?  Well, no.  I quickly ended up in a day a week contract in a school I love.  I have management who care about their staff and understand working part time means being part time.  Yes, like every teacher I will do a little extra, but it is just a little and for the benefit of my kids, my class.  It is not to complete unnecessary admin or other such tasks which make no real difference in the classroom.  I easily pick up more supply work when I want it, not a day goes by where I don’t get a text for it.  Plus, once you are in a school they tend to like to keep your details as it is difficult for them to get supply staff.

My stress levels are greatly reduced which in turn has greatly benefited my health.  I went from a vicious cycle of having caught bugs, infections and having flare ups with my hypermobility syndrome to being out this awful cycle and being healthy.  I have energy to do things.  I have recently started Korean kickboxing twice a week and Krav Maga once.  To have the time and more importantly, the energy, for this before would have been unimaginable.

I am also a happier person.  My family and friends would attest to this one.  One thing teachers are bad at is negative self-reflecting.  We often have management, the council and the media telling us we are not good enough or doing enough.  Going on supply means I ignore this most of the time which makes me happier overall.

I get to socialise now!  After a school day I was often too tired to do much with friends or family.  My socialising was kept to weekends only.  If they were going for a meal or to watch a film on a week night I simply didn’t have the energy to join them.  Now I do have the energy.  If one of my friends has a bad day I am now not too tired to pick up the phone or pop round to visit.  I can enjoy meals with my family not thinking about what else I still need to do.  It really is quite fantastic!

I also have time to do things I enjoy.  I am now running my own business and I am half way through a Masters degree.  Obviously all three things combined mean I am a very busy person who works incredibly hard.  However, I am happier, healthier and a lot less stressed.

Clearly the hours I worked as a teacher were not the issue, neither was working with the children who, for the time I had them, were always “my kids”.  The issue lay with ever changing goals and priorities forced upon us, constant change and paper work for paper works sake.  Teaching isn’t an easy profession, but it can be worth it if you find a way that works for you.  For me, that is being on supply.

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-32926585 and https://inews.co.uk/news/education/scottish-teachers-working-six-days-week/

 

Learning Websites

I am often asked by parents which web sites they should steer this children towards.  Children often do not realise the amount of learning they are doing whilst playing online and how much it can improve their reading skills.  There is a myriad of sites out there and it is hard to know which sites are best, but let me help you by listing my favourite 10 free websites.

  1. Newsround 
  2. Dogo News

I find children are interested in their world.  Newsround and Dogo have news, facts, games and videos to help children begin to engage with current affairs.  Both these sites are similar but have slightly different outlooks.  Newsround is created by the BBC and Dogo by a mum in the USA.  However, both a relevant and a range of sources help children develop their questioning and critical literacy skills.

  1. How Stuff Works

Is your child a budding engineer?  Do they have a real interest in how things work?  Here’s a great website for them to explore and discover answers to their current questions and many more besides!

  1. Nasa

Is it space that captures your child’s attention?  This site is filled to the brim with information and games for them to play

  1. Fun Brain

This site has games in literacy, numeracy and more.  It also has online books and comics.

  1. Oxford Owl

This site is great as it has a range of free ebooks for children to enjoy.  It also has some maths activities and even tips for parents!

  1. Nat Geo Kids

Who doesn’t find the National Geographic captivating?!  They even have a kid friendly site!  It contains everything from animals to wildlife, science to nature, archaeology to geology, geography to history.  I am sure your child will find something which interests them.

  1. Top Marks

This is one that teachers will often suggest as homework.  Why?  Because it is brimming with free games which help support maths and literacy

  1. Teach Your Monster to Read

This is a great site for supporting your child’s reading, I find children adore it.

  1. Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum is another fascinating website for kids, it has games and fact files.  This is really a great educational resource and endlessly captivating.

 

There you have it, 10 of my favourite learning websites.  Hopefully it helps you and if you have others to share please feel free!