As you can probably guess from the title this is going to be a very personal post and I hope you’ll bear with that.
This week has been an amazing week. Truly, incredible.
It started last Monday with saying good bye to my mum at the airport as she left for England taking the first batch of my stuff with her, marking the end of my time in Ukraine. It’s been an incredible two years as I said yesterday filled with ups and downs and definitely overhung with the dark cloud of dyslexia on the horizon.
On Friday I gave a talk at the IH online teachers conference about Dyslexia in a hope to help teachers be better equipped to enable students like me to learn foreign languages. I argued that there are characteristics of Dyslexic people who HELP them to learn foreign languages and I believe it. [click here to go to the talks online.] But by Sunday evening my old nemesis was back.
I published a simple post about the last two years and someone pointed out there were typos.
Let’s be honest, with the online community people can be pretty judgemental about typos. Pierce Morgan told Wayne Rooney to get off twitter for his poor grammar [the irony of a former tabloid editor criticising language is worthy of note.] and the patrol of Grammar Nazi’s can be a constant threat of the most causal of web users. In fact, on occasions I have been that guy.
Before I continue, I should point out that this person was very gracious and very caring. Their message was definitely not meant offensively, was definitely useful and I encourage that correction, It’s the best way to learn. However, it can feel too much sometimes.
Dyslexia can be a judgemental label, an excuse or a niggle at the back of your mind that constantly tells you to give up.
When I first was told I was Dyslexic, it meant nothing to me at all. It was just a word that had no weight and apparently, along with my glue ear which caused partial deafness till I was 8, explained my lack of progress at school, especially with English. To give you some idea of my troubles;
- I couldn’t use paragraphs till I left primary school, which I then promptly forgot how to use.
- I managed to get the difference between weather and whether 2 years ago. As well as Quite, Quit (the easy one) and Quiet
- Using capitals correctly still escapes me, especially when handwriting. For some reason my mind just likes certain capitals and doesn’t like others.
- Remembering an event or important announcement is a challenge that requires multiple diaries which can still lead to thinking that my mum is coming out a week later than she is (and then finding out two days before she arrives that she arrives…in two days! ]
- Forgetting even simple words like Business and writing Buisness on the board, then getting corrected by a student. [true story]
And so on.
All in all, it is exhausting, depressing and makes me feel like a giant fraud. There are many points where I just feel like my time is running out as a teacher. At some point someone is going to tell me to stop and give up…and I’ll do it.
I really don’t know how to feel about this D word that hangs above my head. I used to use it as an excuse “Well I can’t do that because I’m Dyslexic. Give me extra time, because I’m Dyslexic. etc.”
I’ve been bullied because of it. At school one of the girls told all my friends not to hang around me as they “might catch Dyslexia” and be dumb like me.
And I’ve been rejected from jobs because of my spelling and grammar mistakes. I’ve even rejected myself from applying because I felt I couldn’t.
I’ve been quick to talk about being Dyslexic and I’ve tried my best to hide it (out of fear of what others would think and due to what I myself think).
Basically, I don’t know how to feel about it. I really don’t.
I’ve taken so many different tacks and don’t have any definitive answers. I try and just be aware of my difficulties,
- Look for homophones,
- Use technology with spellchecks that underline mistakes.
- Use WordPress plugins that look for grammar mistakes,
- Have a handy dictionary at the side of the classroom just in case it’s needed (by the students of course).
However, it’s those moments of frantically searching a blog post at one in the morning so that no one else realises the mistakes you made…and you can’t find them. You notice that two words have become one (somehow) and you change a couple of phrases…but where are these typos! How can I mark a students writing, if I can’t mark my own.
After a night of rather restless sleep I know I just have to get on with it. I have classes today and I have to teach them. I love teaching, I love teaching English. But I do sometimes feel like a giant fraud.