For many educators, teaching through a computer screen is not what they imagined when they entered this profession. However, the circumstances surrounding the coronavirus pandemic have forced teachers across the world to implement distance learning strategies that, for many, will be in place for the remainder of the school year. Transitioning to distance learning is certainly a challenge for all educators, but teachers who work with dyslexic students may find this time especially difficult. Countless teaching strategies for dyslexia emphasize the importance of multisensory, individualized learning, which may seem impossible to implement without being in the classroom. We understand. The Dyslexia Resource is here for educators who are navigating this unfamiliar territory and trying to make distance learning work for themselves and their students.
Try to Be Flexible
Just as students are getting used to a new routine for online learning, educators are also adjusting to a new and unfamiliar schedule of teaching from their homes. This transition to distance learning requires some flexibility from teachers, students, and parents as we all learn what works in this new environment. Online instruction will look different than what you are used to in the classroom, and it’s important to adjust your expectations for yourself and your students accordingly. While many students have similar resources and opportunities in a physical classroom, some students may have limited technology or other factors that make online school more difficult. For distance learning to be successful, educators must be flexible and adjust their teaching strategies for students with dyslexia to be successful in these unexpected circumstances.
Take Advantage of Your Resources
There will undoubtedly be occasions where technology is confusing or simply not working during this transition. That’s why we encourage educators to lean on their existing resources from their school or in the community to support themselves and their students. Whether your school has a technology specialist who can help troubleshoot when a program doesn’t work, or you utilize online webinars from the creators of the software you are using, small steps towards understanding your new teaching tools can go a long way. Additionally, educators can use existing resources and teaching strategies for dyslexia, like the Orton-Gillingham Approach, to maintain consistency in their lessons.
Reach Out to Your Students and Parents
We are all navigating these uncertain times together, and an individualized note or lesson plan from a teacher can make a difference for parents who are supporting a dyslexic child through online school work. While Orton-Gillingham certified educators have learned distinct strategies on how to teach kids with dyslexia, many parents do not have this experience. Busy parents who are also trying to work from home may not know the best ways to help their dyslexic child succeed at distance learning. Teachers who can take the time to personalize an encouraging note for their class, check in with students who are having trouble, or share dyslexia resources for parents may find better performance and growth from their students.
Be Patient With Yourself
Perhaps the key to making distance learning work for you and your students is to be patient with yourself. More and more parents are learning firsthand just how tough it is to be a teacher and recognizing the obstacles educators must overcome to still teach effectively in this unprecedented environment. Distance learning may not come easily to many teachers who are used to one-on-one interactions in a classroom, and it is understandable for educators to feel a range of emotions during this time, from frustration at confusing technology to disappointment if students don’t master skills as quickly as before. Be sure to recognize the small wins, whether it is an online class with no technology issues or a dyslexic student sending an email or chat message with no spelling or grammar mistakes. Remember that this is challenging for everyone, and you don’t have to be perfect.
The rest of this school year may not look like what you imagined, but you are still doing incredible work by helping children with dyslexia master essential reading and language skills. Lean on your fellow teachers for support and know that you are appreciated by all of your parents and students!
At The Dyslexia Resource, we recognize the unique obstacles educators, parents, and students are facing as the country continues the transition to distance learning. We are here as a source of information and support throughout this unprecedented time, so those who are part of the dyslexic community can learn effectively, even out of a classroom environment. Learn more about The Dyslexia Resource and take advantage of our education initiatives and teaching resources as we overcome these challenges together.