Parents, teachers, and students experience what it’s like to learn differently than others
The RSEC Academy’s PALD (Positive Approach to Learning Disabilities) team visited neighboring Bedford High School on Friday, October 6 to share what it feels like to learn differently than other students.
The workshop, which is offered free of charge to student and education groups, featured RSEC students Hayden, Heather, Isaiah and James, RSEC transition coordinator Alison Batey, and RSEC teacher/coach Bridgette Howell. They presented a series of activities that replicate the experience of having learning disabilities, engaged the audience in a question-and-answer session, and shared what it feels like to be on the receiving end of uninformed and hurtful assumptions about learning disabilities.
“Perhaps the greatest connection occurs when students field questions from the audience and get to share their own experiences,” Howell said. “They begin to understand how deeply it scars when an adult calls you stupid; how the pressure mounts when signing in or out of school and you can’t convert the time on the clock to digital notation; how much you want to learn; how hard you struggle; or how much extra time your homework takes-and still someone calls you lazy.”
Presented with a healthy dose of humor and an open and honest exchange, the PALD team took the audience through different scenarios that help illustrate some of the challenges students with learning disabilities face, such as:
- Singing “the Itsy-Bitsy Spider” in front of peers to simulate what it feels like to read aloud when you are not a confident reader;
- Describing a favorite movie without using words that contain the letter “T” to force the speaker to retrieve just the right words but at a much slower pace; and
- Good-spirited comments from RSEC student presenters urging participants to “speed it up,” and to “speak in complete sentences” to replicate how constructive feedback can feel like anything but.
“When paired with a judgement-free environment, additional activities, funny comments and different perspectives open windows into other learning differences, and our feelings about them,” Howell said. “We do this workshop every year to help educators connect with students at different stages and new ways of reaching them.”
Kudos to Ms. Howell and the PALD team for explaining some of the issues that many of our students experience and overcome on a daily basis. We’re so proud of their commitment to inform the community and share their successes with others.
While the Bedford High School presentation was adapted for its district-wide professional development session, The RSEC Academy PALD team can adapt their 60-to-90-minute presentation for content, time, and audiences of all sizes. It is offered at no charge.
If you’re looking for a powerful presentation for in-service days or parent meetings and would like to request the Positive Approach to Learning Disabilities workshop for your organization, contact Bridgette Howell at 603-673-6656 or firstname.lastname@example.org.