IF MY TEACHER LIVED A DAY IN MY SCHOOL SHOES
If my teacher lived a day in my school shoes… I am a 12 year old student with dyspraxia.
You would be worrying all day about forgetting to take the right things to your lessons, and you’d worry about handing your homework in on time and to the right place.
You would worry about taking too long to get changed for your sports lesson.
You would take time to think through what you will need for your lesson having arrived feeling tired from the walk to the classroom. The teacher gets angry with you for messing about and for being the last to get started which distracts you from the task at hand. You’d see how difficult and slow organising my writing on the page is.
You’d take twice as long as everyone else to copy from the board causing the teacher to get frustrated with you, you decide you will give me a printed handout instead from now on
You get a disciplinary for taking out a pair of scissors from your bag instead of the first item the teacher dictated on their list which you couldn’t remember, you will write all lists and instructions on the board from now on to help me
You take great effort to complete your homework only to receive a conduct mark for doing the wrong questions from your book. You decide to check my homework notes before I leave the class or write it in my homework diary for me from now on
You’d worry about how your friends felt about you when you constantly let them down in rugby. You’d dread the moment when the teacher asks the students to pick their teams because you know you will have the humiliation of being the last boy picked
You’d worry about being late getting to your lesson
You’d be tired from carrying your whole day’s school books around all day because you worried you wouldn’t have time to get to your locker and back between lessons.
You’d be unhappy because you can’t process what the quick-speaking teacher is saying in your lesson.
You’d be overwhelmed by the teacher who gives you handout after handout without giving you enough time to stick them in your book. Sticking them in your book will take you twice as long as anyone else, especially if you have to cut it to fit into your book. You would lose at least one of those sheets of paper during the day.
You’d hang back in your practical science lessons and let your friends take over because you might spill the chemicals when you pour them and because you can’t follow all the instructions given out very quickly.
You’d worry that the teacher who really dislikes you, will find any excuse to give you a conduct mark because they just don’t understand you. You know that your dyspraxic traits will give them the excuse they are looking for if they wait long enough.
You’d be upset with yourself that the artwork you had struggled over for weeks was now covered in water from a jar you knocked over accidentally.
You would dread the inspection of your lever arch file which is chaotically disorganised with sheets upside down and inserts back to front because you often open the file upside down or back to front. Those files take a lot of coordination and organisation which is not your strong suit.
You don’t get to finish your lunch as you can’t eat quickly and don’t want to be left eating on your own. Verbal dyspraxia makes chewing hard work and eating with cutlery is a difficult and messy activity. You choose finger foods whenever they are available.
You’d get frustrated with your DT lesson because the teacher criticises your accuracy rather than find ways of helping you to achieve it. You’d realise I had great ideas but can’t bring them to life because I can’t control my fingers very well.
You’d get anxious about exams because your memory is so bad you know you will have to study at least four times longer than everyone else
You’d realise that nothing comes ‘automatically’ to you, you have to think everything through throughout the day.
You would get distracted and unable to concentrate in your lesson if there is noise in the classroom or outside the room.
You would ‘switch off’ if the teaching was not engaging, you’d need to ‘activate’ yourself by fidgeting. You’d give me something to do like handout books, to re-activate me in the future.
You’d spend the day tripping and bumping into the most unexpected things. Sometimes resulting in another students anger, breakage, teacher anger, personal injury and always embarrassment.
You would realise how important breaks are to me and not let your lessons run over time.
You’d go to bed early because you are so exhausted from the day
You would realise that a few words of encouragement would go a long way in my life, giving me the energy to keep trying to succeed.
You wouldn’t use the words, ‘he’s lazy’ any more. You now realise that this statement is quite the opposite, I am one of the hardest working students you have come across.
You would call my mum to discuss what you could do to help me more in school…
You’d love the imagination I have and you would suddenly see new ways of doing things that no one else did. You’d see my potential at last.
You would realise that once I did get something into my long-term memory I could come up with amazing ways of using the information.
You would love the person I am – kind, thoughtful, imaginative and persevering (hard to spell!).
You would realise I have a few great friends at school that help me to cope with the day and know that I wouldn’t change them for the world.
By George, aged 12. I have Dyspraxia and was diagnosed at the age of 6.