5 Tips for Working with Students with Dyslexia During Remote Learning
The transition to remote learning has presented its own unique challenges for teachers and students alike, but educators of dyslexic learners and the students they work with have been feeling the struggle on a deeper level. The shift from face-to-face interactions with instructors and small-group work within school walls has caused a loss in motivation for students with learning disabilities who thrive during in-person learning. This loss is a major source of stress for the teachers and parents who want these students to succeed.
The new school year is underway and remote learning continues in much of the country either as a part of a hybrid attendance model or as the only attendance model. Here are five tips to help you work with dyslexic students in a remote environment:
1. Address the elephant in the room
There is a reason that emails and video chats between teachers and students are the new normal, and it is okay to address that. For older learners, incorporating selected news articles regarding COVID-19 provides an opportunity for dyslexic students to engage with and evaluate articles from various publications with different types of writing styles. Asking their opinion on the pieces that resonate with them the most, is one additional way to personalize learning and instill a greater sense of curiosity and independence.
2. Use assistive technologies
When teaching a general education class, it is crucial to make sure that students with dyslexia have options that allow them to adapt to the task at hand at their own pace. Using assistive technologies like speech to text, text to speech, or audiobooks can be helpful. Sometimes a student feels that a writing assignment is simply “so taxing that they write simple sentences when, in fact, they have great ideas to convey.” When students are able to articulate ideas verbally, without the discouragement that writing can bring, creativity and confidence can flow more freely.
3. Press record
“At the root of dyslexia is a language processing issue, so students with dyslexia sometimes struggle with multi step verbal instructions and paying attention through long lectures”, according to a piece posted to Edutopia. Consider recording video lectures and making them available to students. Even recordings of smaller group breakout sessions or one-on-one chats between students and teachers can be helpful for students with dyslexia to have access to after the fact. This ensures that students can catch up on any details they may have missed during the original session. These recordings can also be valuable assets for parents who want to help their students at home. The video software you are using likely has a built-in option to record these calls, but if all else fails, your own laptop or phone should also have a screen-record feature.
4. Practice patience and flexibility
While student success still remains a top priority, the definition of success may need to shift during remote instruction. Students, particularly those with learning disabilities like dyslexia, may require a longer adjustment period. Educators may also spend more time struggling with technical snafus and adjusting lesson plans. Teachers must be patient with students, and with themselves. As The Dyslexia Resource suggests, “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 … you don’t have to be perfect.”
5. Stay connected
Maintaining a personal connection with students through a computer screen can feel like a daunting task, even for the most dedicated and engaged educators. It is important to remember that teachers, students, and parents are all navigating these uncertain times. Small gestures, such as taking a few moments to chat, sending a quick personalized note with words of encouragement, or offering ideas or resources for parents to help their dyslexic learner succeed can make a big difference. Actions like these can help bolster student motivation levels and provide support for parents who are struggling to balance full-time work with playing a more prominent role in their student’s education.
While this new era of remote learning has undoubtedly brought on new challenges for many dyslexic learners, along with their teachers and parents, it does not mean that these students will be unable to succeed. In fact, some of the tips suggested here may even uncover new methods of learning that can help students with dyslexia pick up and retain new skills, and thrive more than ever!
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