One day this cute lady called us just frantic. She had been using the home use version of our product with her dyslexic son and he had improved to some degree but it just wasn’t helping him like she thought it should be. She was desperately trying to figure out what more she could do to help him. I could tell she would do anything and it broke my heart to hear this cute worried mom who felt like she had found the program that would offer him the best chance of success but it still wasn’t clicking like she had expected. How could she help her child from drowning in school?
I didn't want her son to drown either! So, the next time our Dyslexia Specialist and Teacher Trainer, Shantell Berrett, was in the office I asked her what she advises teachers and parents to do when our program (or any research based reading program) just isn’t working for a student like it does for others. Here’s what she had to say:
1. Make sure it’s being taught and implemented with fidelity.
There is so much to take in when you are trained in a program or methodology and although you retain a lot, it would be impossible to remember everything. You may be accidentally leaving out an important step in the instruction process. Luckily, as Shantell said, a small tweak in the instruction can drastically change how well a student responds to a research based intervention.
2. Make sure the student is practicing sufficiently without overkill.
The other week we posted an article about dictation and how one teacher had moved her class from a 50% passing rate to a 96% passing rate in vocabulary. The most interesting thing to me was that the one student who didn’t pass was the only one who refused to participate in the dictation process. Maybe you are instructing with full fidelity but if you have a student that isn’t showing progress, you may want to review how they are practicing the concepts, perhaps they are skipping steps that are vital to their success.
It is also important to point out that Shantell said that sufficient practice is important, but not overkill. Reading practice should not become a student’s life, or an intense big deal. This will only cause the student to dread and avoid reading practice.
3. Try a different presentation or a different research-based reading program.
If you have assured that the program is being instructed and practiced with fidelity and the student still isn’t getting it, it may be time to try a different program. It still needs to be research based, but maybe manipulatives in exchange for a marking system or vice versa would work better for the student. Maybe even use the same methodology but with a different instructor. Sometimes having someone different explain something to you can change everything. Not because one teacher is better than the other, but because they may just be a better match for that student.
What’s worked for you? What suggestions do you have? Let us know!