Dyslexia and Struggling Readers: A Teacher’s Perspective

Dyslexia and Struggling Readers: A Teacher’s Perspective

It happens every year. I would get my class list and information about my students. The information would include test scores, grades, and students in intervention. There were always so many struggling readers. Students that were brilliant, creative, but just couldn’t seem to read. Their parents and teachers had given them intervention and support but they were still struggling. I tried lots of intervention tactics and attended so many workshops on helping struggling readers but I never felt like it was enough to help. About halfway through my time in the classroom, Missouri made a new law to red flag students for dyslexia. Several of my students were flagged for dyslexia and no one had an answer for how to help those students besides our regular intervention programs. Those intervention programs didn’t seem to help as much as was needed. After ten years of teaching, lots of struggling readers, and never feeling like I had enough
tools or training to truly help, I started to do more research to find a solution to equip myself to help my struggling readers and students that were red flagged for dyslexia. I researched multisensory teaching, Orton Gillingham, and the Science of Reading. I looked into so many curriculums, methods, and trainings. Then I found Take Flight and The Springfield Center for Dyslexia and Learning (SCDL). SCDL provided training and support in all the areas I had researched.

I chose to pursue Take Flight training from SCDL so I was better equipped to help my students. Take Flight training is a two -year program that qualifies you to become a certified academic language therapist (CALT).

Take Flight is “A Comprehensive Intervention for Students with Dyslexia It is a curriculum written by the staff of the Luke Waites Center for Dyslexia and Learning Disorders at Scottish Rite for Children. Take Flight builds on the success of the three previous dyslexia intervention programs developed by institution: Alphabetic Phonics, the Dyslexia Training Program and TSRH Literacy Program.

The curriculum was designed for use by dyslexia therapists with children 7 years and older who have developmental dyslexia. The purpose was to enable students with dyslexia to achieve and maintain better word recognition, reading fluency, reading comprehension and aid in the transition from a therapy setting to ‘real world’ learning.” (Scottish Rite for Children 2022)

Take Fight is exactly what I was searching for. It has a scope and sequence and fills all the gaps that students might have. It includes multisensory teaching, Orton Gillingham based instruction, and is based on
the Science of Reading. It teaches skills and uses methods that really help struggling readers.

The experience of training, tutoring, and learning with SCDL has truly changed me as an educator. It has allowed me to learn how to help struggling readers and students with dyslexia. Take Flight is the systematic and explicit program and methods that are needed and help so many students. Our classroom teachers are fantastic but many of the methods and programs that are used in our schools are not created with the details to help our struggling readers. Those programs do not meet the needs of students with dyslexia. Most teachers and administrators did not struggle with dyslexia or learning how to read so their brains did not need what their student’s brains need. Many of our educators do not understand dyslexia. Most of our teachers and administrators need additional training to meet the needs of struggling readers and especially those with dyslexia.

A student with dyslexia does not automatically learn something after a few times. Students with dyslexia process language much differently than other readers. Take Flight supports the learning methods that are needed by students with dyslexia. Through the Take Flight curriculum and materials students are taught to create new brain pathways to take in language and to learn how to read. Students are given the opportunity, through Take Flight, to learn the way their brain thinks!

I have seen Take Flight give students the support and confidence that has been taken from them in the process of trying to read in school. I have students that have grown leaps and bounds and are now discovering the magic of reading! I have kids that actually want to go to school and learn after years of anxiety and dreading going to school. My students now understand how their brains work and see themselves as successful.

If your child is struggling and interventions aren’t working I would advise you to look into academic language therapy, research Take Flight, and consider contacting the Springfield Center for Dyslexia and Learning. SCDL can do diagnostic testing to determine if your child has dyslexia and to pinpoint gaps in your child’s learning and skills to be worked on. The Take Flight curriculum and materials give a great scope and sequence for addressing your child’s struggles with learning to read. SCDL offers in-person tutoring for local students and on-line tutoring for students from other areas. Don’t wait to get your child help. Early intervention is key! It could be life-changing for your child!

If you are a teacher and are at a loss on how to help your students that are struggling readers, I would suggest being trained in Take Flight and becoming a Certified Academic Language Therapist (CALT). The Springfield Center for Dyslexia and Learning offers Take Flight, BUILD, CALP (certified academic language practitioner), and CALT training. I would highly recommend these trainings and the Springfield Center for Dyslexia and Learning to any teacher who teaches reading in their classroom. These trainings give teachers the skills, methods, and a scope and sequence to help struggling readers and students with Dyslexia. Be part of the solution to help our struggling students!

By Caressa Clark