While I do think it’s important for NVLD students to be treated the same, I also believe their effort needs to be honored and valued especially when grades are involved. For example, on subjective assignments, say the teacher’s initial grade is D+ but the student always works incredibly hard then the student should earn a C-. This is especially true when the student is close to passing. This being said, I believe this type of treatment must be kept at a reasonable level and not necessarily applied every time as it can come across as treating others differently.
During my high school years, there were times I had adults who held me to the same standards while not considering the effort I put forth. My biology teacher wanted to give me a final grade of 64 (65 is passing) even though I worked very hard in the class and passed the final exam\regents with 68. She believed you get whatever your grade is based on grading policies and, while I don’t totally disagree with her in this scenario, it was the wrong decision given my outstanding effort. To fail by one point would have been detrimental. Thankfully my parents knew how to appeal my grade and my final\regents score of 68 became my final grade. Truthfully, situations like this discourage kids from doing their best.
On the other hand, my U.S. history and english teachers, Mark and Mary whom I wrote about in the first piece, always took into account my effort at a reasonable level. English 11 was a challenge for me with all the reading comprehension and essay writing involved. I always received at least a C as Miss Kelley saw how I worked incredibly hard to improve these skills. Furthermore, I never received anything higher than a B so I always knew I was getting meaningful praise for my effort. Mark was very similar, although with him I would often get a B+ and occasionally he would give an A-. Additionally, when we recognized my low quiz average he agreed to let me take them during my resource room period and use my class time to study. Their methods truly are the perfect balance as I was held to the same standards though there was empathy in process too.
In terms of sports, this is why I was significantly closer with Jim Adams, my cross country coach than Penny, my varsity track coach. He treated me like I was any other teammate but did notice how much harder I had to work just to finish a run. He also knew I was a typical teenager so he punished me when it was necessary, regardless of my disability. On the other hand, in varsity track my effort wasn’t valued right away. During my first season I was left out of competition a few times despite me coming to practice and putting forth 100% effort at practice. I am proud to say Penny changed her views about me as time went on. Jim’s methods just seemed to work better as I never once felt stigmatized for being a slow runner. Both of these coaches gave me the coaches and sportsmanship awards a few times and it made me feel so valued. What is special about this though they were truly earned as during the seasons where I wasn’t working hard my coaches didn’t give me any praise.
Overall please understand when working with NVLD students there needs to be a balance. As the truth is being pushed too hard or not enough can both lead to negative outcomes. I know personally when Jim Adams, Penny, Mark, and Mary pushed me hard it made all the difference in the world. I knew I was treated the same and I still received the necessary empathy to meet my unique needs. Yes, I understand it can become discouraging if only getting a C or finishing last after a lot of extra work, however, at the end of the day you will be proud of the obstacles you have overcome. This is why I believe it’s best that rewarding and honoring effort is meaningful.
I will always love Jim Adams for this reason as he always gave me wonderful praise when it was earned and yelled at me when it was needed.Share your own story