My Struggle With MathSeptember 19, 2021
When I first found out I had dyscalculia, everything suddenly made sense. Dyscalculia is the disability involving numbers, aka math dyslexia.
Starting in the sixth grade, my math grade started slipping. My parents and my teachers always chalked it up to not paying attention in class or working too fast through the problems. But I would triple check my work, and I would constantly ask questions in class. I had no idea what I was doing wrong. Until that faithful day in my senior year of high school.
Mrs. Whipp asked me to come to her class after school that one day, saying she needed to speak to me about the Algebra 2 test we had recently taken. I knew I had probably done poorly on it, though I was the last person to turn in a test and I had triple checked my work go math 2 grade. I sulked into her class after the last bell rang. I wanted to get this done and over with. She called me over to her desk and showed me my test. Purple pen marks all over the page. I knew she was going to tell me that I just wasn’t trying hard enough, that I was never going to pass her class, that I needed to see a tutor. But that’s not even close to what she said.
Instead she told me it looked like I was math dyslexic. I was so confused, I wasn’t dyslexic. I had been at a college reading level since ninth grade. I was always the top of my English classes. How could I be dyslexic? But the way she explained it to me made perfect sense. My brain mixed up numbers, no matter how much I tried. No matter how many times I could check my work, the numbers would still change. Threes looked like eights. Fours and nines were basically the same thing. I had to cross my sevens in the middle to stop myself from thinking they were ones. And it was not my fault at all.
At that point I took every precaution I could. Mrs. Whipp allowed me to have more time to take tests. I moved seats so I could sit in the front row, right in front of her desk. My weekly after school math sessions were made daily. I bought yellow lined paper to rewrite my notes on after the class was over and I was at home. Once I figured out how to help myself overcome my disability, my grade shot up from almost failing to a B. Even to this day, I still use all of the techniques to help me with my math.
I guess what I am trying to get at is that not everyone works the same. And it is very sad that our school system is stuck on this cookie cutter test evaluation theme. From second grade on, you are forced to take a state-wide test that is supposed to measure how well you are doing in school. But everyone learns differently, no two people learn the same exact way.
And that’s what my job is, to help your student find out how they learn and to help them learn on their own. I am not meant to replace you or a teacher, I am meant to just guide the student to making their own choices for studying. You will still need to help them when I am not around, and you will still need to make sure with your students teacher that they are progressing correctly. You are the final teacher for your students.