Yesterday afternoon, while picking up a black bean burger at a new eating establishment near my school, I ran into a student I’d taught last year.
“J” is a quiet young man who always showed great aptitude, despite the fact that he has been a struggling reader for years.
As is my custom when I run into former students, I asked how his classes were going.
Twas a sad response he had for me.
He hung his head as he told me that he has been struggling…a lot…this year.
I asked him if there was a class in particular, and he pretty much said no, that most of his classes were giving him problems.
The reason why I asked was because I am certified to teach English and social sciences. I feel qualified enough to offer before/after school assistance with either of these subjects.
He then told me that he’s really having a hard time in history.
I asked who his teacher was, and he told me. He assured me that his teacher, whom I like a lot, is a good one; however, that he (meaning “J”) is a visual learner who does better with pictures.
I’m not kidding.
“J” used those exact words!
I asked if the teacher puts notes on the Smartboard, and he sort-of said yes. Then, he went on to explain that the notes on the Smartboard don’t follow each part of the lecture, so it’s difficult for him to focus.
Then he told me that this is why he does better in math…because his teacher puts the problems on the board as they go.
Oh, how my heart went out to “J.”
Even as I listened, I thought about the things I’ve been learning in my Reading Endorsement classes and even just yesterday, as I read the material for my first ESOL certification class, which, by the way, is a lot of repeat information from the class I just finished.
We, as humans, have different learning styles.
Some of us process information best when we hear it. Others do better with visuals. Still others learn best by doing.
There are many different types of learning styles. Any person who presents information to an audience needs to keep this fact in mind.
That is why car dealerships have fancy brochures…to appeal to the visual learners. Dealerships allow customers to drive the vehicles. This appeals to kinesthetic learners…those who learn best by doing.
As a teacher who sees dozens of kids each day, it can be difficult to remember to include “something for everyone;” however, the conversation with my student reminded me how vitally important it is.
If he can recognize what he needs to be able to learn, then I, as a teacher, should be more cognizant of the special needs of each of my own students.
His ability to explain why he’s not learning is his way of saying, “I want to learn, but I need the tools that fit me best.”
I hear you, “J,” and I’m going to see what I can do to help you and all whose presence grace my room each day.