School Experiences with Dyslexia

By Samantha

Most of my teachers were good to me. In kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade I went to a Montessori School, which was actually a public charter school. I had the same teacher for 1st and 2nd grade. She would pull me aside to do word reading, and she helped me a lot personally.

In 3rd grade, I switched to public school because I was denied extra help for my dyslexia at the charter school. Honestly, 3rd grade was a little bit stressful. For English and spelling, we’d break into groups. For reading, I had a teacher I didn’t know. We’d just go there and take spelling tests, and I felt like I was testing with a stranger. So, if I had a question, I didn’t really feel like I knew her.

“4th grade brought one of the best teachers I’ve ever had! She really supported me, and stood behind me. I felt like if I was having trouble, she was easily approachable.” I wasn’t scared she would look down on me for asking questions. She was an encourager! She would encourage you forward. If you couldn’t do something, she wouldn’t say try harder, instead she would encourage you.

For my 5th grade year, we decided to try a private school. At this school, I had two teachers for 5th grade. One of the teachers was very approachable, but the other one didn’t seem to understand me very well. I asked for extended time because I was going to tutoring twice a week, and she said no. She said tutoring was just an excuse because everyone else still has stuff to do like soccer or other extracurricular practice. I felt like tutoring is different because it’s more school. Soccer gives you an outlet. Tutoring is something you need for more school practice.

I went back to public for middle school, starting in 6th grade. This is the first time, for me, where each class had a different teacher. They were mostly all approachable and very supportive of me. However, there was one teacher who said that I didn’t need any help because I was already doing well. That was the year I was getting my IEP re-tested. She said I didn’t need it, I’m too good. She didn’t really understand me. I work a lot to get those A’s and B’s, so I felt like if she were to take that away from me, it would be so stressful. I was scared about what would happen if my IEP was taken away. I use my accommodations and without them everything would be so much harder.

During my 7th grade year, I had one really good teacher and one really bad teacher. For the bad part – I was in a higher level language arts class, and I don’t think the teacher thought I was supposed to be there. I still needed help; even though I’m smart, I still had issues. She didn’t really understand my dyslexia. However, that balanced with another teacher who was really good and very approachable. We connected well. She was very nice, she had a smile, she supported me. She was just honestly open and committed to the students. She would show pictures of her family, and it just made her seem just like anybody else, and not like a scary teacher.

During 8th grade, I had one teacher who at first made me feel like she was unapproachable, but once I learned how to connect with her, it all changed.

“Once we finally clicked, she saw that I really did try and I wasn’t just making it up. At first, she was denying my help, but she changed.” To click with her, to show that I really did care about school, I’d go in at lunch and talk to her. I’d ask for help to show that I was really committed to the class, and we bonded.

For my 9th grade year, I have one teacher whose mission is to “fix” me. He pulls me out and spends extra time with my writing. I appreciate his support, but I feel like he is taking it too far. It makes it feel like I need all this help, and like I can’t do anything on my own. It makes me feel like I am stupid. I just need support; I don’t need to be fixed. Please don’t make it seem like I can’t do anything.