This assignment will explore the effects of dyslexia, what it is and it will also explore what affects it has on people with the condition. It will investigate how people with the condition manage day to day work life. The assignment will also investigate how people manage their dyslexia in the workplace, with a focus on teachers. The assignment will investigate the effectiveness of teachers by an interview with an educator with dyslexia, with the intention to assess how effective dyslexics are, compared to non-dyslexics in the workplace.
The choice of subject matter, ‘are dyslexic teachers effective in their workplace’, was chosen because I have a personal interest in the subject. I have recently had a diagnosis of dyslexia, and therefore wish to find out more about it. I hope to raise awareness of dyslexia in the workplace, particularly that of teachers in schools. By doing this, I hope that teachers can get support, such as more time for reading documents, sending emails, and computer programs that will help them in their work. I also wanted to gain insights and develop deeper knowledge about dyslexia, the way it affects individuals with the condition, and how this portrays itself in the workplace.
An interview with a real dyslexic teacher was important in order to be able to dig into his life experiences. In particular, his experiences of teaching in the workplace and his experiences of his own education and support. As a result of the interview, an interesting comment came out about his career progression in which he mentioned he became head of department within three years. His promotion made him a very interesting subject for this assignment.
The definition of the Department for Education (2011) of what standards are expected in good teaching practice, is used as a measure to compere dyslexic with non-dyslexic teachers. Another aim of the research was to discover which of these expectations presented challenges to dyslexic teachers. Particularly challenging areas could be assessments and data management, other challenges include research, good subject knowledge and report writing. The interviewee reported that he received minimal support from his employer.
Legislation is now in place giving dyslexics a level playing field within the workplace. It is not clear what is meant by reasonable support in the legislation. This assignment intends to discover what support is being given to dyslexic teachers in one particular workplace, (a secondary school) and what support a dyslexic teacher requires. Nowadays, dyslexic students are supplied with technical help such as Dragon Dictation, Sonocent, and Read and Write. However, once a teacher is in the workplace, these computer programs are not necessarily available. It would be better if in the future dyslexic teachers could receive support from their employer without having to feel embarrassed.
What is Dyslexia?
The word dyslexia comes from the Greek dys, which means impaired or difficulty, and lexia which means word explained by Wood and Cochrane (2009) and Riddick (2002).
The British Dyslexia Association’s website choose to use The Rose Report (2009) definition of dyslexia, with an added two paragraphs, that describes dyslexia as 'a learning difficulty that primarily affects the skills involved in accurate and fluent word reading and spelling’. These are the most commonly known about traits in dyslexics. The Rose Report (2002) goes on to explain ‘Characteristic features of dyslexia are difficulties in phonological awareness, verbal memory and verbal processing speed.
Dyslexia occurs across the range of intellectual abilities.
It is best thought of as a continuum, not a distinct category, and there are no clear cut-off points.
Co-occurring difficulties may be seen in aspects of language, motor co-ordination, mental calculation, concentration and personal organisation, but these are not, by themselves, markers of dyslexia.
A good indication of the severity and persistence of dyslexic difficulties can be gained by examining how the individual responds or has responded to well founded intervention.'
However, there have been many other descriptions of dyslexia including the outdated ‘word blindness’ and an excuse for children of ‘middle class parents’, as cited by McLoughlin and Leather (2013) and Dore (2008).
Dyslexia Action (2017) use a very simple definition. They describe dyslexia as a specific learning difficulty that affects one’s ability to read and write. This description also appears on my own Diagnostic Assessment Report, (appendix 1).
However, experts do seem to agree that dyslexia is a neurological condition, that is lifelong and is estimated to affect as many as 20% of the world population Wood and Cochrane (2009) and Thomson (2001).
One thing that experts agree about dyslexia, is that it is hereditary, explained by Wood and Cochrane (2009) and Hornsby (1984). Although the condition is passed down families, members of the same family with dyslexia, can be affected differently by the condition, pointed out by Wood and Cochrane (2009). Many people, live their whole life never knowing they have dyslexia. Wood and Cochrane (2009) goes on to say, how dyslexia affects all races backgrounds and intellectual levels.
How does dyslexia affect people?
Dyslexia affects people in different ways as stated by Riddick (2002). There are several traits that affect dyslexic people, but as Wood and Cochrane (2009) states, by no means are dyslexics affected by all of the traits. Slow reading, and being able to comprehend what has been read, is a very common result of being dyslexic.
People with dyslexia struggle with comprehension because they lose the flow of the text explains Wood and Cochrane (2009). She goes on to explain, this can be caused by having to take time to work words out. Slow reading can also be affected by another issue dyslexics have, that of very poor short term memory. To comprehend the written text, to memory, may take several rereadings, and at a slow pace to be fully understood. Wood (2009) says that brain scans of dyslexics show far more electrical activity while reading, than non dyslexics, suggesting dyslexics having to work much harder while reading. This puts to bed the argument dyslexics are ‘lazy’, something dyslexics were labelled as during the 1970’s and 80’s as reported by Hornsby (1984) and my own experience.
Writing is one of the main difficulties all dyslexics have.
Riddick (2002) points out, short term memory issues cause problems when trying to remember telephone numbers. This issue has been eradicated by technology, because the modern phone stores telephone numbers. Instead, technology has caused new issues, such as remembering pin numbers and passwords. Hornsby (1984) informs that remembering dates, the names of items and people is often difficult for dyslexics to do.
Spelling as stated by Hornsby (1984), Raymond (2002) and Wood and Cochrane (2009), is another dyslexic issue. Hornsby (1984) explains that dyslexics will often omit letters from words, and get the letters in the wrong order. This is connected to another dyslexic trait, sequencing, Wood and Cochrane (2009).
Dyslexics with sequencing issues, reported by McLoughlin (2013) can have issues with spelling, but also with remembering the order in which things have happened to them, keeping appointments and general time keeping Dorn (2008). Dyslexics with sequencing issues, can also have problems with maths Hornsby (1984), Raymond (2002) and Wood and Cochrane (2009).
Dore (2008) reports dyslexics sometimes confuse left and right, and up and down. Some dyslexics have superb ‘spatial awareness’ while many struggle with it, and may be clumsy, as stated by Hornsby (1984) and Thomson (2001).
Hornsby (1984) discusses the way in which punctuation remains an issue. Even when a dyslexic knows where it needs to be used, often used incorrectly. Dyslexia is a lifelong condition as explained by Wood and Cochrane (2009) therefore affecting teachers in the work place.
Other common issues that occur alongside dyslexia, are poor concentration and poor working memory as mentioned by Sellers (2016).
A common belief that dyslexics see words backwards, but according to ALS- Dyslexia (2017), this is not the case.
How does dyslexia affect teachers?
Sellers (2016) explains that teachers with dyslexia, are not intellectually inferior to their colleagues. In interviews carried out by Sellers (2016), many teachers with dyslexia, explain how they have a low self-esteem.
In the Sellers (2016) interviews, some of the teachers disclosed their dyslexia to their employers, while others chose not to. Dyslexia is recognised as a disability, and therefore subject to employment disability legislation as reported by Griffiths (2012). Griffiths (2012) also explains that employing teachers with dyslexia may cause issues for the school, but none are insurmountable. Despite this legislation some dyslexic teachers decide not to disclose their dyslexia to their employer, for fear of discrimination. Sellers (2016) reports, some of the teachers who had not disclosed their dyslexia, did however, disclose it to some of their work colleagues.
The dyslexic teachers that had declared their dyslexia to their employer, reported that they had received support from their employer, and their colleagues. However, there were occasions when teachers with dyslexia had been mocked by their work colleagues, for instance, if they had made a spelling mistake.
All the teachers with dyslexia, in the Sellers (2016) report explained they had various techniques of either getting around or disguising their dyslexia. Many reported how writing on the board was something they tried to avoid. If a teacher with dyslexia is not open about their disability, and they make a spelling mistake while writing on the board, and it is picked up by the students, they might reply ‘I was just testing you’. Another tactic deployed by dyslexic teachers, is to write down the difficult words on a piece of paper, to be copied on to the board. Dyslexic teachers may try to avoid this activity, by preparing lessons using technology such as PowerPoint presentations.
The teachers interviewed in the Sellers (2016) report, that had disclosed their disability to their employer, got their teaching assistant to either do the writing on the board or at least proof read what was going to be written.
Many of the teachers in the Sellers (2016) and Glazzard (2013) interviews expressed a very unhappy time during their own schooling. They recall being called lazy, stupid, and having lots of red marking over their work. This has led to them having much empathy with their own students who are struggling with all learning difficulties, Sellers (2016). In addition, Burns and Bell (2010) described how dyslexia has given teachers greater knowledge of learning difficulties, so they can explain to their colleagues, how it feels to have a learning disability. Therefore, their understanding and knowledge, has been an asset to their place of employment.
A dyslexic teacher, for example, would make an excellent trainer for other members of staff in terms of being able to explain what it is like to have a learning disability. He can help other members of staff, to have a greater understanding of the need for inclusion. Therefore, teachers could promote equality in the classroom. Burns and Bell (2010) go on to say, employees with dyslexia can be found working at the most superior levels of employment. They still however suffer from lack of confidence and embarrassment Griffiths (2012). Which is unfortunate, because many of these teachers will meet the standards set out by the Department for Education in terms of being effective I the classroom. However, Glazzard (2013) reports of a teacher gaining in confidence after finding employment as a teacher.
Their report, Department for Education (2011) state that teachers must prioritize the pupils in their care, be honest, have integrity and perform at the highest standards. The document goes on to state, that teachers must create good relationships and be professional with both pupils and parents. The Department of Education (2011) also states that teachers must aim for high attainment levels in their students with inspiring lessons. Furthermore, teachers must have respect for one another and other members of staff and peers, be team players, and keep skills up to date with training. A teacher must also have excellent subject and curriculum knowledge and plan lessons accordingly. The report states they should demonstrate different teaching styles, and use the correct one at the correct time depending on the child’s needs.
They must be aware of health and safety issues and provide a safe working environment for everyone.
To sum up, dyslexia is a lifetime disability that is hereditary. Although it is correctly commonly thought that dyslexia affects one’s ability to read and write, dyslexia also affects a person in many other ways. Effects may include poor reading and writing skills, sequencing issues such as dates, times and recalling a sequence in which things may have happened and poor short term memory.
Due to these issues being life long, dyslexics take their disability from school to the workplace. All the issues that have dogged a dyslexic person through their schooling, will continue through their working career. Many dyslexics are able to disguise their dyslexia through various coping strategies. It is no longer necessary to hide dyslexia from an employer due to disability legislation. However, many dyslexics choose not to disclose their disability for fear of discrimination. Dyslexia affects all intellectual abilities.
Data Collection Methods
Three methods of data collection were considered for research purposes. Observation, interview and questionnaire as explained by Denscombe (2014) and Bell and Waters (2014). Bell and Waters (2014) outlined some details concerning the interview method, where she listed several advantages. One of the advantages of an interview is that because it is adaptable, it allows the interviewer to come back with follow up questions. Responses can be investigated and emotions can be explored.
Denscombe (2014) suggested cases which could benefit from an interviews method. The first case would involve difficulties with complex issues or subtle challenges. Secondly interviews would be useful for probing in more depth. Such as how stress and anxiety are linked to a teacher’s dyslexia. Thirdly, the interview method gives an opportunity to gain information from someone who has considerable experience in the field.
An interview with a teacher who considered himself as dyslexic was the most appropriate way of getting information. It was important to interview a teacher that considered himself dyslexic. The BERA (2011) guidelines were used to guide the sourcing of a suitable teacher to avoid possible pressure from an expectation to agree to an interview. Application for ethical approval was requested from the university (appendix 3).
The possibility of approaching a headteacher of a primary school, requesting an interview with one of their staff with dyslexia was considered. It was felt that this would not be a good approach, because of the headteacher and staff relationship. A teacher may feel under pressure to take part in the interview, against their true feelings, if requested to do so by their head teacher. It was also considered that contact could be made via social media. This could have been done by using Facebook teacher groups, and other teaching forums.
In the event, a contact was made via a university tutor. A teacher with dyslexia, had made himself known to another member of staff, that he would be interested in taking part in this kind of research.
An email was sent (appendix needs a number) to the teacher. Within the email, the questions posed for the interview, were added. This was to allow the interviewee time to familiarize themselves with the questions Burns and Bell (2010). It also allowed the interviewee to decide if they truly want to go ahead with the research Bell and Waters (2014) and BERA (2011). Different questions were inspired by different literature. For example, the question about remembering all the children's names, was inspired by reading McLoughlin and Leather (2013). Spontaneous writing on the board question was inspired by Burns and Bell (2014). What support do you receive from your employer? Was inspired from reading Sellers (2016) The interview followed the BERA guidelines closely. The email also explained the interview would be conducted using a telephone call and recorded by voice recorder.
The choice of a voice recorder, as a method of recording the interview, was essential because I have dyslexia. Having dyslexia, results in me having difficulty in recording accurate written notes. Written notes would be incomplete, badly spelt and in parts, potentially unreadable.
On sending out of the initial contact email, the reply was very quickly received requesting the interview be done than the very next day or the day after. A reply was sent back stating the times that I was available over those two days. Nothing more was heard from the interviewee for two weeks. During this time, and number of attempts was made to make contact with the interviewee. This included a prompt from my tutor, who had made the initial contact.
It felt very stressful not receiving any kind of reply from the interviewee during this time. The submission date for the assignment was approaching and I had been ready to do the interview for two weeks before it eventually happened. During this time, I had to consider other ways of making contact with a teacher who considered themselves dyslexic. I considered approaching my tutor, and asking if he knew of any other teachers that considered themselves dyslexic, or if it might be better to try and source one from social media, such as Facebook teaching groups.
It was also considered during this time, the ethics of sending out reminders to the interviewee. BERA (2011) states that anyone taking part in research is entitled to withdraw at any time. It had to be considered that the interviewee had change their mind, and felt that they could not approach me about this, due to an awkwardness.
An email was received from the interviewee, explaining he was do the interview. I immediately gathered together my voice recorder and my script of questions together, then called him back immediately. It was a great relief to get the interview underway.
The questions for the interview were created with the object of finding out as much detail as possible, about the effectiveness of dyslexic teacher in the workplace. It was important to get a little background of the teachers own schooling experience, and is own dyslexic traits. It was also important, to understand the type of school setting the teacher works in. The questioning also examined the teachers experience in the workplace. Questions were also created in a way as to avoid one-word answers.
The question’ what strategies/tools do you use to overcome your dyslexia issues in your work, such as remembering all the children’s names, and spontaneous writing on the board’? Became too much of a leading question. If I were to do the interview again I would have finished the question with the word work. In the event, because of the leading nature of the question he only spoke about the children’s names and how he remembered those and writing on the board, but nothing else. If the question had not been so leading email supplied better information.
During the transcribing of the interview, a couple of further follow-up questions came to mind, that unfortunately did not come to mind while the interview took place. I did do a couple of follow-up questions to the question about getting support from his employer, but I regret I did not press him more on it is entitlement to support because of the disability at work act as stated by Wood and Cochrane (2009).
Findings and Critical Review
The interviewee (appendix 2) was about 18 years old, and at his first year of university study when he discovered he had dyslexia. This is a similar situation to the interviewee in Sellers (2016). The interviewee (appendix 2) considered himself to be ‘quite late’ in discovering he had dyslexia. In contrast, many people with dyslexia born before 1980, may live their whole lives without knowing they have the condition.
The interviewee (appendix 2), revealed how he struggled with a low reading age. This research corresponded with Wood and Cochrane (2009), when she explained that dyslexics suffer with slow reading. The interviewee (appendix 2) explained his difficulties during his own schooling. He explained that his coping mechanism was to sit next to ‘clever people,’ and copy what they had written down.
The interviewee (appendix 2) however, goes on to explain how his low reading age ‘hindered his progression’ at school and how he found himself in lower groups, his literacy affected other subjects. This corresponds closely with the Sellers (2016) interviews. Many of the teachers interviewed, had expressed being unhappy at school. The teachers go on to explain how they were called’ lazy and stupid’. Teachers interviewed by Sellers (2016) also recall lots of ‘red marking over their work’. However, the interviewee in Sellers (2016) remembers teachers being very supportive to his needs in secondary school.
The interviewee (appendix 2) disclosed on his application form that he was dyslexic. The Sellers (2016) interviewee was still in teacher training. He had declared to his training placements, that he was dyslexic, and went on to state he intended to tell future employers about is dyslexia. Times have changed since before the 1980s, when dyslexia was looked upon with negative attitudes.
The interviewee (appendix 2) explained, how within three years, he had become ‘head of science’ at his place of employment. This research agrees with Burns and Bell (2010), they state that people with dyslexia can be found working at the highest grades of employment. The research also agrees with Sellers (2016) that dyslexics are not intellectually inferior to their colleagues. However, unlike Burns and Bell’s (2010) research findings, the interviewee (appendix 2) came across as very self-confident.
The skills of interviewee (appendix 2) are in line with Burns and Bell (2010)’ when he claims he has empathy with students with learning disabilities. He goes on to claim to have good relationships with all the students he teaches. The Sellers (2016) interviewee also developed good relationships with his students like the interviewee (appendix 2). He goes on to explain how he can see that the mistakes his students are making are similar to the ones he made in primary school.
The interviewee (appendix 2) states that dyslexia is not a ‘massive issue’, and claims that the way people communicate these days is more verbal and not through the written word. However, in a world of new media such as Facebook and Twitter, the written word seems to be more important than ever. On the other hand, these forms of media often use text speak as opposed to formal spelling and grammar. If this had sprung to mind at the time of the interview, it would have been interesting to put these thoughts to the interviewee in the form of a question.
Wood and Cochrane (2009) describes how dyslexics struggle with short term memory. The interviewee (appendix 2) knows that he has this dyslexic trait that affects him in his work. To help him remember the children’s names at the beginning of a new school year, he will set the students tasks that allow him to go around and meet pupils individually, to get to know each child.
When it comes to tasks such as writing on the board, Sellers (2016) explains how teachers avoid doing it spontaneously. Some prepare by writing difficult spellings on a piece of paper to refer to, while others play a ‘spot the mistake game’ with their students. The interviewee (appendix 2) used a similar game to spot the mistake, offering a merit to those who spot the mistake. His students understand he’s dyslexic. The interviewee in Sellers (2016) also stated he handed out ‘house points’ to his students who picked up spelling mistakes while he was writing on the board.
Both the interviewee (appendix 2) and the Sellers (2016) interviewee, describe themselves as having poor handwriting and describe it as one of the disadvantages of having dyslexia. The interviewee (appendix 2) explained the preferred handwriting on the board. However, the Sellers (2016) interviewee had a Smart board. He explained that by typing in Microsoft Word, the spellchecker would correct spelling mistakes. He continued to explain, that he checks his spellings with his mobile phone when marking.
In the Sellers (2016) interviews, it was a fairly even split between the teachers who disclose their disability to their employer and those that chose not to disclose. The interviewee (appendix 2) did declare his disability to his employer. It had been declared on his application form. Disability at work legislation states that he is entitled to ‘reasonable’ assistance at work. Despite disclosing his disability, the interviewee (appendix 2) states he gets ‘zero’ support from his employer. However, having thought the question through, he did list some support. This included more time for writing reports and leeway on spelling mistakes.
The interviewee (appendix 2), by the way he answered the questions, came across as a very confident young man. In reply to the question about confidence, his focus was on his ability as a good problem solver. He had a positive mental attitude. He pointed out he has had to be very resilient, and stated ‘there are a lot of people worse off than me’. He went on to say how he doesn’t see his dyslexia as being a disadvantage to him.
The confidence that the interviewee (appendix 2) portrayed, which is in contrast to the writing of Wood and Cochrane (2009) and Sellers (2016), was obvious to hear. Wood (2009) and Sellers (2016) both report how dyslexics often suffer from a low self-esteem, due to a lifetime of knock backs.
The interviewee (appendix 2), is aware of the disadvantages dyslexia brings to him. This means he has had to put in ’25-30% more effort’ than his work colleagues of the same intellect. He explains that his work ethic has been lifelong due to his dyslexia. This is now paying off, resulting in him being made head of department within three years. He puts this down to his ability to problem solve, which is something most dyslexics get good at, as explained by Wood and Cochrane (2009).
Along with the disadvantages of being dyslexic the interviewee (appendix 2) also explains there are some advantages to being a dyslexic teacher. He claims to have a rapport with the children he teaches, and as ‘something in common’ with students who have learning difficulties.
Dyslexia has never been better understood, and understanding continues to expand. Dyslexics in the workplace are now protected with legislation, protecting them from discrimination. Technology such as Dragon Naturally Speaking, Sonocent, Read and Write and Iris Pen programs, are helping dyslexics reach to the highest levels of employment.
Despite the issues caused by his dyslexia, the interviewee (appendix 2) is clearly succeeding in his chosen profession. Within three years he has become head of the science department, and the extra workload this creates. This creates the possibility that much of the literature on dyslexia might be out of date.
The Department for Education (2011) state that teachers must prioritise the pupils in their care, be honest, have integrity and perform at the highest standards. The interviewee (appendix 2) showed that he is able to work at the highest standards because he was promoted within three years despite his dyslexia. The Department for Education (2011) document goes on to state, that teachers must create good relationships and be professional with both pupils and parents. The interviewee (appendix 2) stated he had a good relationship with all of his students. The Department of Education (2011) also states that teachers must aim for high attainment levels in their students with inspiring lessons. Furthermore, teachers must have respect for one another and other members of staff and peer team player.
The Department of Education (2011) promotes that teachers not only use the information that they learnt University in their practice, but also go on to develop and keep their skills up to date with training. A teacher must also have excellent subject knowledge. Teachers must also have good curriculum knowledge and make good course and lesson plans accordingly. The interviewee (appendix 2) stated he was teaching biology at a level and three other science subjects to GCSE. This suggests he has good subject and curriculum knowledge. A good teacher according to the Department of Education (2011) will be able to demonstrate different teaching styles, and be able to use the correct one at the correct time depending on the child’s needs. The interviewee (appendix 2) explained a couple of his teaching styles. He explained how we gave merits to pupils who spotted spelling mistakes he had written on the board, and went on to tell how at the beginning of term, he set tasks that allowed him to spend time with each individual pupil.
A teacher must also be aware of health and safety issues in the classroom and provide a safe working environment for both pupils other members of staff and himself.
To investigate this research further, if money and time were infinite, the study would be richer if more interviews could have been done. One interviewee is a very small sample to work with, therefore not giving a realistic sample of dyslexic teachers, across age brackets, gender et cetera.
More interviews could have been obtained via social media such as Twitter using the correct hashtags, and Facebook using teacher groups. Questionnaires could also have been used to gather information, such as websites like Survey Monkey. The questionnaires could have provided information leading to other potential interviewees. These questionnaires could also be promoted using Twitter and Facebook and other social networking sites. My own social media use over the years has led to me having very many connections to teachers, schools and from when I served as a school governor, school governing bodies. At this stage, there is very little research in the area of effectiveness of dyslexics in the workplace. It would be of great benefit for there to be more research at a national level.
With hard work, determination and with the help of clever computer programs, there is no reason why a dyslexic cannot be successful in the workplace. Dyslexics can be found in all types of employment, and teaching is just one of them. At this moment in time there is not enough research about dyslexics in the workplace at a national level. Much of the research that is out there has been considered in this assignment. Further scope would have been advantageous. More research in this area would be advantageous to pupils with dyslexia, schools and colleges, the Department for Education and other professionals.
Dyslexics are working at the highest levels of employment and this includes teaching. The teacher interviewed for the assignment has risen to head of department within three years.
The list of attributes provided by the Department of Education (2011) of what teachers must aspire to be, in no way excludes dyslexic teachers. Any issues dyslexia bring to a teacher, such as spontaneous writing on the board, is usually managed by being able to ‘think outside of the box’.
Dyslexic teachers can in fact provide something to their school that their non-dyslexic colleagues cannot. Dyslexic teachers can offer an empathy with pupils with learning difficulties that non-dyslexic teachers may not. Furthermore, dyslexic teachers would be able to give an insight to their colleagues, of what it is like to be dyslexic, at an adult level.
It is the belief of this assignment that dyslexic teachers are as effective as their non-dyslexic colleagues, and are therefore an asset to their place of employment because they can also provide insights to their colleagues that non-dyslexic teachers simply cannot. For example, a dyslexic teacher may be quicker at picking up signals from students, that are struggling with their schooling tasks, such as anger, or on the other hand a student may go within themselves and become really quiet. Once this behaviour has been detected by an observant teacher, (this could be from schooling experiences in his own childhood, which he recognises), it follows that intervention may be necessary. A good teacher will make a report to either the headteacher or the special educational needs coordinator, whichever is appropriate. From the research conducted in this assignment, it can be concluded that dyslexic teachers can be very capable teachers.
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At what age did you discover you had dyslexia and what specific dyslexia issues do you have?
At my first year of university. It was quite late. I guess I was about 18.
I struggle with a really low reading age, I struggle with reading words on a page. I sometimes have to use colour filters to see words more clearly. My writing, my spelling's atrocious. Literacy is a massive issue. It’s something I've had to practice and build on.
Did dyslexia affect your schooling, if so, how?
Yeah, I spent a majority of my time at school copying people. So that was my coping mechanism, I sat next to very clever people, and made sure I copied exactly what they had written down. Totally. I was always put in to lower groups due to my low reading age and it hindered my progression, I couldn't keep up with the class, a lot of copying.
You felt it affected your other subjects?
Yeah, definitely. It affected everything.
What is your setting and what subjects do you now teach?
Right now, I'm head of science at an urban school. So the setting's pretty... we’re a non secular academy, we take a lot of low ability students. who perhaps have learning difficulties, or things like dyslexia, or have not been accepted in to other schools. So I teach all study sciences up to GCSE, and I teach biology up to A level.
It doesn't really affect me from day to day. I just have to give myself a little extra time to respond to emails. I don't know any different, so I don't know if I have any specific coping mechanisms, other than just getting on with it.
Do you think the relationships you build with your students that have learning difficulties, are helped by the fact you have dyslexia?
Yes, usually. I think I have a good relationship with all the students I teach. I am passing on the message that you don't have... I don't see it as a massive issue, I think the way people are communicating now is not so much about the written word, it's more about how you communicate verbally.
What strategies/tools do you use to overcome your dyslexia issues in your work, such as remembering all the children's names, and spontaneous writing on the board?
With remembering student names, I try to just get to know them as much as I can. I know it takes me a while, so I.... The first couple of lessons I give them tasks that are independent so I can go around and talk to them. So I can remember them. That is how I remember stuff. Specific techniques? I don't really have any. I have a tint on my glasses, which is great for reading stuff, which is good. It's not noticeable, not like they're red or anything, that's weird, I have a yellow tint which is fine.
I write on the board quite a lot. I just make sure I'm very vocal about the fact my handwriting is appalling and if they spot a spelling mistake they get a merit. It’s a good little game for them, they love it. I just take the piss out of myself essentially.
What support do you receive from your employer and colleagues?
Zero, there is nothing they can do really. I just try and take care of myself. I don't expect anyone to support... I don't see it as a massive issue. They haven't given me anything really.
Are they aware of your disability?
Yeah, again, there's not much they can really do. They give me a bit of extra time when I'm writing reports maybe, they give me a bit of leeway if there are a couple of spelling mistakes. In one of our standards meetings.... That's about it really.
Was the school aware of your disability when you applied for the job?
Yes, I put it down. saying how I had overcome challenges. You know what you have to write on an application form. They are aware. There is not heaps that they can do to help and they are not there all the time either.
Do you think dyslexia has held your career back in any way and how much is confidence a part of this?
I don't think is has. I think people with dyslexia are really good at problem solving. It's what I've found out. I am head of department in three years because I'm good at problem solving and that's due to the fact I've had to do it all my life. I have always had to put in about 25-30% more effort than my peers, just to get the same grade, even if I'm the same intelligence than them. So I have always had to put the extra work in. I think that now that it's reaping the rewards, I don't really see it as an hindrance at all. I work harder than 90% of my peers, day to day, because it helps me to keep up. I think it's a good habit to get into. Lots of successful people do that. I don't think it’s a hindrance.
Does having dyslexia have any advantages within your work?
It's a good context for students. Especially in school, They have so many problems, as I have said in previous questions, you can relate and build a rapport with students a lot better if you have something in common, or at least you can build a rapport with them, for me student relationships is a big one. And like I said working hard. Keeping up is another one, I have had to be very resilient. I've had to deal with it. There are a lot of people a lot worse off than me. I don't see it as a disadvantage at all really.
Section B: Checklist (Double click on each box that you want to place a cross in and then click check)
Does your proposed research involve the collection of data from human participants?
Does your proposed research require access to secondary data or documentary material of a sensitive or confidential nature from other organisations?
Does your proposed research involve the use of data or documentary material which (a) is not anonymised and (b) is of a sensitive or confidential nature and (c) relates to the living or recently deceased?
Does your proposed research involve participants who are particularly vulnerable or unable to give informed consent?
Will your proposed research require the co-operation of a gatekeeper for initial access to the groups or individuals to be recruited?
Will financial inducements be offered to participants in your proposed research beyond reasonable expenses and/or compensation for time?
Will your proposed research involve collection of data relating to sensitive topics?
Is pain or discomfort likely to result from your proposed research?
Could your proposed research induce psychological stress or anxiety or cause harm or negative consequences beyond the risks encountered in normal life?
Will it be necessary for participants to take part in your proposed research without their knowledge and consent at the time?
Does your proposed research involve deception?
Will your proposed research require the gathering of information about unlawful activity?
Will invasive procedures be part of your proposed research?
Will your proposed research involve prolonged, high intensity or repetitive testing?
Does your proposed research involve the testing or observation of animals?
Does your proposed research involve collection of DNA, cells, tissues or other samples from humans or animals?
Does your proposed research involve human remains?
Does your proposed research involve human burial sites?
Will the proposed data collection in part or in whole be undertaken outside the UK?
Does your proposed research involve NHS patients, staff or premises?
If the answers to any of these questions change during the course of your research, you must alert your Supervisor/Tutor/Module Leader immediately.
My name is Paul Clews. I am presently studying for a teaching and learning degree. I have dyslexia, and have chosen to study a module about teachers with dyslexia.
As a part of this study, I will be researching if dyslexics can become good teachers. I am hoping to be able to interview teachers with dyslexia. My course tutor as indicated that you may be willing to take part in an interview. The research will observe BERA (2011) guidelines, which I can make available to you on request. Therefore, agreeing to take part, you will be able to withdraw at any time, and I have access to any of my research at any time. The interview I conduct will remain anonymous.
I propose the interview will take place via a telephone call, Skype, or FaceTime. I would also like to record the interview with a voice recorder. I have included within this email a list of questions I propose to ask to allow you, if you whis to, to prepare your answers.
At what age did you discover you had dyslexia and what specific dyslexia issues do you have?
Did dyslexia affect your schooling, if so, how?
What is your setting and what subjects do you now teach?
What strategies/tools do you use to overcome your dyslexia issues in your work, such as remembering all the children's names, and spontaneous writing on the board?
What support do you receive from your employer and colleagues?
Do you think dyslexia has held your career back in any way and how much is confidence a part of this? Does having dyslexia have any advantages within your work?
Please get in touch interested in helping me with my research. If we can arrange a mutually convenient time for the interview to take place. Equally, it if you change your mind anyway, please let me know.
ck here to edit.