By Lisa Becker
“Don’t ever let her read aloud in class! She has severe dyslexia.” I felt quite intimidated by the remedial teacher’s remarks. It was my second year teaching in a school thousands of miles from home. As a foreigner in the metropole of Houston, Texas, I was not about to create waves. Katie was a shy plump little girl who was ushered out the classroom with every reading lesson. I noticed that anxiety was only increasing in this third grade pupil. “Katie is stuck!” Her mom stated one day pleading for my intervention.
I have always taken my faith walk seriously and so I prayed for a strategy. I jotted down two ideas: Make words enjoyable and She takes pictures of words and files them – give her as many words possible. I grabbed the first book of my phonic book collection. It was 7 pages with the [a] sound. She read it in seconds and burst out laughing. I slowly introduced more difficult books. Every time she hit a roadblock, I would read the word for her. Words indeed became her friends. Katie had an arsenal of words by the end of that year. She recently wrote me a Thank you-letter stating that she had just enrolled for a Masters Degree in Social Work.
Ramsey’s case was different. She was fully capable but obstinate. Her only passions were soccer and horse riding. I designed a race course on cardboard. Every book read meant another sticker and every dinosaur on her path was a grammar rule. The prize was a horse saddle which kept her motivated. Her mom confided in me that her grandfather had intended to get her one for a while. The outcome was amazing as her marks improved exponentially.
David was so beaten down when he arrived in my classroom. He was a third grader with atrocious spelling skills. He didn’t know punctuation or capitalization rules. As I was in a small private school I was given room to improvise. We took an entire day to write one story. The title of the story was: “How the (animal) got its (characteristic)”. David wrote feverishly and didn’t stop until three pages later. He then typed it up on the computer. This is when he became desirous to correct his spelling and punctuation. The pupils then painted water colours to illustrate their story. I believe David stood eight inches taller with pride.
I am now back in the land of endless possibilities. My passion is seeing children flourish. I am desirous to see them conquer mountains that seemed impossible to climb. In understanding a child holistically, I can create a strategy that is tailor-made to meet their exact need – the keys to unlocking their potential.
May we all be the keys in unlocking another’s potential. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for any tutoring needs.