Teachers are often just as frustrated with the special ed system as parents, as this teacher shared in an email to me.
I’m a 5th grade teacher and I am on the internet trying to find out about dyslexia. I have a student who has concerned me since the beginning of the school year. She gets her d’s and b’s confused. Sometimes she can spell “does”, but other times, she spells it “dose.” She has many other quirky things in her writing — too many to list. Her writing is VERY phonemic, but the phonics are off. I became concerned even more when I asked her to copy something straight from a piece of paper into her notebook. Once seeing what she copied, there were numerous mistakes. I was confused because she had the paper right in front in front of her to copy back and forth.
I then requested an SST meeting, but all the came from it were 2 recommendations: to have her put a ruler under her sentences when she is reading, and when she was done with a piece of writing to have her look it over with me and have her highlight all the errors. (It was felt that she was rushing through her work, so if she highlighted it, she would see that she had to slow down and take her time). I was quite disappointed with the meeting because I felt like nothing was accomplished. I teach this student every day and I was sure those recommendations would not work.
But I tried them. I sat with her while we looked at a copied piece of work she had completed. When she went through the writing by herself, she highlighted 17 mistakes. I then sat with her and found 41 mistakes.
After a few weeks, I was not seeing any improvement. There were numerous mistakes on her spelling homework and low spelling test scores on Friday. She was getting frustrated because she studied so hard. She is also not doing well in math.
Yet she is a very bright girl. Socially she is well liked, and you would never know she was struggling so much within her schoolwork.
It kills me to see her reaction when she gets anything back from me (or other students) and sees all of her mistakes. I don’t want her self-esteem to suffer. I just feel “something” needs to be done.
So I asked for another meeting, this time with the principal present. My principal saw her work and was on my side, as my principal is dyslexic. At the meeting, it was decided that we would recommend she be tested to see what was going on.
A week later, the school psychologist came into my classroom and asked to see samples of her work. When I shared my concerns, he told me that: “There is no such thing as dyslexia.” Then he claimed this student just needs to get taught basic spelling rules, and I should give her 5 new spelling rules a week. The meeting went on and on, and I was so upset by it. I again felt NOTHING was accomplished.
I then asked to meet with my principal again, who let me know that no follow-up would be done because this student does not stand out as needing special ed. I’m so tired of having to follow the “appropriate” procedures, and I am upset that just because my student isn’t totally failing, no testing will be done. I’ve been a teacher for 6 years and obviously, something is wrong — and has been for a long time. I looked at her kindergarten report card, which showed she was having difficulty with phonemic awareness.
I just want to know your thoughts. Am I crazy for fighting so much to get her tested, or do you really just think this student just needs to be taught the basic spelling rules again?