Being a person who struggled in elementary school myself, I really believe that people learn differently. Based on my own experiences and what I have learned in over thirty-six years of tutoring children, I agree that most children are not disabled learners, but simply people who learn in a different way.
Some of us can not learn merely by hearing something. We need to see and experience to learn. Visual aids such as pictures, time lines, graphs, demonstrations, and DVD’s really help me follow a lesson, but they don’t always have to be things you can touch. Stories, parables, examples, and analogies also enable me to “see” the ideas. I have found Teaching No Greater Call to be a invaluable resource of teaching ideas.
While visual aids are a great help to me, sometimes there are problems. Though it really helps when the teacher writes the key words on the board or draws simple pictures to represent the idea as she teaches, I must be able to see the teacher’s face and lips when she talks, or I can’t “hear” what she is saying. I find it helpful if the teacher says something, THEN turns around and writes on the board, or has someone else write on the board for her. I also struggle when the room is dark such as during a computer presentation, and I can’t see the teacher. Having what she is saying also printed on the screen, aids me in following the presentation.
Another problem I encounter is when we are asked to read a scripture in class. Reading scriptures out loud is difficult for me, so I really appreciate it when a teacher doesn’t just call on me to read before the class. If she does, I am further embarrassed because I don’t know what verse we are to look up. It means a lot to me when the teacher writes the verse number on the board, so I can be a part of the scripture study.
It also helps me when a teacher begins by giving the “whole picture” or purpose of the lesson. This allows me to understand what is being discussed. For me learning is like putting a puzzle together. I need to know what the finished puzzle should look like, then I can fit the pieces together.
One way to help me grasp the main idea of the lesson is to begin with a question written on the board. I appreciate having time before the class starts to think about the lesson. It also helps me when the teacher pauses and gives me time to think after she asks a question. I have many ideas I want to share, but it takes me awhile to put them into words. Sometimes teachers assume that since I usually can’t answer “simple” detail questions such as when or where something happened that I certainly couldn’t answer “harder” questions. Actually, these are the questions I enjoy answering. I love it when I am given to opportunity to answer the “big picture” questions which ask me to explain what the concept means, or how to apply a Gospel principle in my life.
I am grateful for all the teachers in the Church who use a variety of teaching methods, so that those of us who learn differently can participate in classes and learn the teachings of our Savior. One of the most important things I have learned is that I am a unique daughter of God who is not “disabled”, but who has been given special “whole picture” talents to share with others.