Story I

So, second grader, Nicole,  was writing  some things to her mom in class. She started a poem to her mother, “Rosis ar red vilits ar blae, but nan is as swet as you.” 

She went on to tell her mom that she was having “fune at skal I mise you.”

Certainly, Nicole would score high sweetness points, but the writing  suggested some “red flag” indicators of concern. 

Here’s what the teacher said:

“Nicole does not always stay on task.  She is quiet and does not tend to raise her hand often in class.  I think it really just comes down to confidence.  I think Nicole can be a very successful student in the classroom.”

No!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (I really want to scream.)

Skills are Nicole’s primary issue, not confidence.  Nicole needs to have her skills targeted.  Then confidence will follow.

Story II

When assessing vocabulary on the cognitive portion of the assessment, the child looks at the word and the examiner asks the child to tell the word’s meaning.   “Ancient” is a word in the mid-levels of the test that most kids have a pretty good idea as to its meaning.  They usually start talking about the pyramids or something like that as a way of explaining the word 'ancient.'

Thirteen year old Ivan  was tested recently.  (I will try and transcribe our interaction.)

Me:  “What does the word ‘ancient’ mean?” (As I show it to him in print.)

Ivan:  “Ancient??? I thought that said ‘accident.”

Me: “No.  Ancient.  What does the word ‘ancient’ mean.”

Ivan:  “Oh, yeah!  I know that…like a spy?”

Me:  “What do you mean like a spy?  I said “ancient.”

Ivan: (Looking at me like he was talking to a lower order human who just didn’t get him.)  Yeah, a spy, like I said…like a secret agent.”

Me:  "Oh, I get it…my bad."

Hmmm…do I need to say more? 

Story III

As part of the Coffee Klatch Network  on my monthly radio show I had the good fortune of interviewing James Redford, film director and producer of the movie “The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia.”

The movie tells the story of his son Dylan’s struggles with his learning disability (dyslexia) and the journey that took Dylan from a “functionally illiterate” fourth grader to a successful college student.  The movie also highlights a number of very well known “celebrity” dyslexics including Richard Branson, Charles Schwab and others.

Within the interview, Redford made many great points.  One that struck me was the value of the label.

As he stated, “My wife and I felt that it wasn’t until the whole thing (the dyslexia) could be contained and understood under a label that we could say, ‘oh this is what it is. This is something that is diagnosable. This is something that you could do something about. This is a challenge, but it’s not an academic death sentence…. The label of dyslexia was actually a positive thing to us, which is strange, because so often labels are destructive. You have to make sure, though, that what comes with a label is true understanding. Because if you just use the label ‘dyslexia’ as it is currently used there is a lot of misunderstanding."

(Here’s the link to the Redford interview and others that have been completed on “School Struggles:”

This is the link to all of the interviews that are a part of The Coffee Klatch team: