Teaching Tips

Education kills creativity – Sir Ken Robinson – International Advisor on Education.

"Making mistakes and taking chances are the only ways to come up with new ideas. Employers need innovative minds, but this talent is increasingly hard to come by, because people are discouraged to think outside the box throughout their lives. "

By the time students reach intermediate, dyslexics can have a very low opinion of themselves and their learning. School has been hard, and it’s only going to get harder. They don’t like to stand out and be different from their peers, unless they have taken ownership of their dyslexia.


Top tips

·Safeguard their self-esteem and self-efficacy above everything else. Dyslexic students can be very vulnerable.

·Ask them- "How can I help you to learn, what works best for you?” What can we do together to make learning easier”

·Adjust teaching strategies for the whole class not just for the dyslexics then everyone will learn.

·If they have to leave the classroom for intervention programmes, make sure the strategies they are being taught outside can be transferred back into the classroom. Reinforce those skills they are learning. When they return to the classroom, help them to transition back in. They may be off task when they return; not knowing what is happening or what has been just taught. Check in with them so they know, and don’t have to ask others.

·Making mistakes shows we are thinking outside the box. Encourage the whole class to make mistakes. What do we learn if we don’t make mistakes? Praise them for their mistakes.

·Dyslexics and others that learn differently are often more aware and curious than others, and when bored are very distractible. Even when they aren’t bored, something new entering their environment will immediately draw their attention. The real solution to this would be to make what’s happening in the classroom, the most interesting thing in the environment for the student. Understand that they will disorientate often, especially if what the teacher is instructing is not interesting.

Build a relationship of understanding, where they feel it is ok to ask for help.

Teaching tips

·Ensure that you have the student’s attention before stating a direction.

·Keep oral directions short and simple.

·Break instructions into small manageable chunks and present them in a logical order; no more than two.

·Check in with them shortly after work starts to ensure they have got it right to ensure directions are understood.

·Encourage the student to ask for directions or information to be repeated if not understood or remembered.

·Seat them at the end of a row or somewhere where you can easily stand beside them during a lesson, giving them the opportunity to ask for help. Walk the room.

·Dyslexic students will find information more interesting or easier to understand when it is supported by visual, multisensory and creative material. Make learning visual.

·Provide visual materials during an oral presentation, otherwise they will disorientate.

·Provide visual aids, hand out instructions, homework etc on paper.

·Limit copying activities. Provide assistance with note taking - handouts.

·Provide more time to complete assignments.

·Limit the number of new facts, words, concepts presented in one lesson.

·Be sensitive when marking, they often work twice as hard as others for half the result.

·Do not time test them. Time testing tests speed in retrieving knowledge, the pressure of time on dyslexics makes them confused and anxious. It would be better to test their knowledge rather than on how fast they can remember it.

·Consider individualising test taking and extra time to read a test.

·Seat the student in a location away from distractions in order to optimise attention.

·Provide a well-managed classroom with control of visual and auditory distractions and competing background noise.

·They may need a quiet space to read, away from the noise distractions in a busy classroom.

·Able picture thinkers make the words into a movie in their head as they read. Encourage them to stop at the end of sentences and paragraphs and understand the pictures in their minds eye. Do they make sense?

·Be sensitive about homework. Limit it to what is necessary. You don’t see the dramas and meltdowns that go on at home over homework.

·Allow them to ‘fidget’ within boundaries. For the easily disoriented learner to sit still and concentrate takes a lot of effort. If you allow them to fidget (a piece of blue tack) they may be able to focus better.

·Do not keep students in at recess or lunchtime for uncompleted work. They need this time to be active.

·At the end of the day stop and ask them how they felt their day went. "Is there anything that we can do to help you in the classroom?”


Encourage "Pull don’t Push. Ask don’t Tell” Praise, praise, praise


More tips and resources: Dyslexia Foundation NZ – 4D is for dyslexia

Professional services described as Davis™, Davis Dyslexia Correction®, Davis Symbol Mastery™, Davis Orientation Counselling™, Davis Math Mastery™, Davis Attention Mastery™, Dyslexia the Gift® and Gift of Dyslexia® may only be provided by persons who are employed by a licensed Davis Specialist, or who are trained and licensed as Davis Facilitators by Davis Dyslexia Association International.