Growing up with learning disabilities (LD) was tough. While my parents have always been supportive, I’ve had some real struggles in the classroom, not just with learning, but sometimes with the teacher. Even one bad experience with a teacher can leave a child feeling very negative about tackling any new task or asking for help.
When I was in second grade I had some difficulty with a few subjects, especially math. My teacher wasn’t patient with my struggles and she would yell at me when I didn’t understand what she was teaching. I felt like she treated me differently than the other students. This didn’t happen once, it happened many times. It made me feel bad about myself as a learner and it made me feel negative about my future potential. I was too frightened to tell my parents about it, but they eventually heard about the behavior through other parents. My parents met with several faculty members and addressed the issue head on. I was ultimately transferred to another school within the district where I was treated with dignity and respect. Thankfully, I had positive experiences with teachers at my new school. I found that not all teachers were mean and condescending and that most were kind and understanding.
Throughout my time in school, I’ve learned how important it is to advocate for myself, to ask for the help that I needed, and to stand up for what I believed in. As a sophomore in high school I felt like my teachers didn’t understand me, so I decided to invite them to a meeting after school, along with the guidance counselor, my case manager, and the Vice Principal. This wasn’t a regular IEP meeting, but I wanted to have an opportunity to tell them my story, and about my needs, my strengths, and my weaknesses. After hearing my story, my teachers understood my needs better and that we could work together in order for me to succeed. I can say with much pride that I graduated from a four-year college in four years and am now working on my master’s degree at NYU in the field of nonprofits.
I guess you could say there are always going to be those in our lives that will make the learning experience miserable, but always remember one thing: take the negative experience and turn it into a positive one for yourself. I did, and it made me a stronger person and more determined to succeed.