Sunday, April 16, 2023

Behavior Problem or Learning Disability? How to know the difference.

How can you tell if a student has a learning disability? If you're lucky, the student will simply ask for help and tell you they are struggling. However, we know that students usually ask for help indirectly. So, what does a student with a learning disability look like?

1. The Apathetic Student- These students look and act like they are not interested in school to cover up the fact that they do not understand the content or cannot read the content needed to pass the class. Many students would rather appear unconcerned about their grades than admit they cannot read. 

2.  The Invisible Student- These kids try to blend in and disappear into the sea of kids. Some may sleep while others sit quietly and pretend to work. They rarely ask questions, seldom cause problems, or speak to peers or teachers in class. These kids try to be unnoticeable by everyone. If they can maintain their invisibility, they are safe for another day.

3. The Behavior Problem- These kids are the opposite of the invisible kids. They are loud and demand attention. They often cause chaos and trouble with their peers. Some may be the class clowns, while others are argumentative and refuse to work. These students often interfere with the learning of others and make our jobs more difficult. 

We have to figure out what their behavior is trying to communicate.  Are they deficient in a skill? Are they dealing with trauma? Are they struggling to meet their (and maybe siblings) basic needs? So, what do you do?

1. Get to know the student. Take 2 minutes every day for at least two weeks to talk to the student. Ask them about their hobbies and interests. Ask them about anything but school. After two weeks, continue to check in with the student regularly. Building meaningful relationships with students will help them feel more comfortable asking for or accepting help from you.

2. Give a simple assessment to determine the student's skill level. Do this privately where other students cannot hear. Many students struggle in school because they cannot read at the level needed. You can give students a one-minute reading fluency assessment. Give the student a text or portion of a text to read aloud and time them for one minute. After one minute, count up the number of words the student read correctly and the number of errors they made. You can find a chart here that gives a range of what is expected at each grade level.

3. Check in with their other teachers. Make sure to check in with related arts teachers. They often see a completely different side of kids. How are the students behaving in their other classes? Are they completing work? Are there assignments the students are unable to get out of? If so, how do they do on them? Are there assignments they willingly complete? Answering these questions will help you determine if it is a skill deficit or another issue. 


No comments

Post a Comment

© One Room Schoolhouse | All rights reserved.
Blog Layout Created by pipdig