Confessions of a dyslexic lecturer

Tes Editorial

All around the country there are able and competent lecturers who fear three fateful words being declared in stereo throughout the classroom:

"Teacher can't spell!"

As a dyslexic college lecturer, I have feared that my students would discover my problem. Thankfully, they never have. However, the thought has left me feeling vulnerable.

Many lecturers are concerned about declaring themselves as dyslexic to prospective employers or mentioning their learning difficulty when applying for teaching jobs. Once employed or accepted on to a teaching course, little support is available.

My experience as a dyslexic trainee teacher in an FE college in Berkshire varied. During my training, the lack of awareness and the stigma that still surrounds dyslexia surprised me.

There was no system to assist dyslexic trainee teachers, so I and another dyslexic trainee shared "coping" strategies, such as pre-prepared worksheets, colourful overheads and the use of visual images.

We gave an interactive presentation to our colleagues on what it is like to be dyslexic, and most of them said how useful it was. If such presentations were integrated into teaching programmes, it would help dispel the ignorance that surrounds the issue.

Barbara Riddick and her team at the University of Sunderland have an education working party to assist dyslexic trainee teachers. This is only available at the one site and there is not enough being done to promote such a programme nationally.

Ok, so at times... Miss, can't spell, but I am a committed and competent professional, who actively uses strategies to overcome any difficulties that I might have due to my dyslexia. I have always found that students respond well and are quite comfortable with the fact that "Miss" is fallible...and to their credit (and maybe my luck) I have never heard the death cry of "Miss can't spell."

More details on the working party to assist dyslexic trainee teachers are available at the University of Sunderland website

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