5 Insights from High School Grads Who Have Learning Disabilities

On vacation this summer, I had the opportunity to interview two young people who attend one of the Winston Schools. The insights they provided into teaching a struggling learner were fascinating. One of them graduated this year, and the other graduated the year before. Here are some of their insights:

  1. The best thing about the [Winston] school was that everyone there had a learning disability. It was so nice not to have to hide it. Instead, talking about our problems was normal lunchroom conversation. Plus, virtually every teacher there has overcome a learning disability themselves, giving them insight into the students.
  2. When we said we didn’t understand something, they didn’t just repeat the explanation. Instead, they tried to present it using a different modality. If they had explained it orally, they drew it on the board. If they had drawn it out, they gave additional explanation or had us act it out. If we didn’t get it, they would try different things until we understood.
  3. Don’t settle for a B grade when you can really make an A. Sometimes it’s easy to feel sorry for yourself because of how hard it is to learn new things. Give that extra effort to get an A if you know you can.
  4. Try different learning/study techniques until you find the one(s) that work for you. For example, when studying the Civil War, one student wrote all her notes for each year in a different color. That way, if she could remember the color the information was written in, she could place the event in the right year and in sequence. The other student would use color to highlight important info or doodle a picture as a memory aid.
  5. Find a teacher or parent who believes in you and won’t let you settle for being less than you can be.

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