When I was in middle school, I hated Math class with a passion. Although I was very good at Math, I didn’t like it because it was just so frustrating trying to solve the problems. Having a teacher who moved too fast with the classwork didn’t help either. After a meltdown from being overwhelmed by the classwork and the teacher’s instructions, I would say things like “I hate Math!”, and than my teacher would say “But you’re so good at it!”. I don’t know if she was trying to make me feel better, but it didn’t help at all—I still couldn’t stand Math class.
And in high school, I had to do Performing Arts. It was actually a requirement for me to take it in order to graduate—I spent the first two years of high school at a special education school where students from several different counties of Maryland and Washington, DC went, and my county in particular required students to take Performing Arts, so I had no choice but to do it. I didn’t like Performing Arts because I had to stay after school to rehearse for plays, and I already didn’t like school. Also, it was very tedious reading the lines over and over, trying to perfect my acting. I just didn’t like it, but again, teachers said that I was very good at acting.
What I really liked (and still do) was Visual Arts. I always loved drawing, painting and writing. To me it’s very relaxing and enjoyable, and it was my favorite way of expressing myself. I also thought I was very good at it. Unfortunately, Visual Arts wasn’t in my county’s academic curriculum, so I couldn’t take it.
To this day, I can’t do a complex math problem without feeling intense anxiety because my middle school teacher pushed, pushed, pushed me practically to the breaking point. I’ve tried to apply for community college once, but every time I saw the practice questions for the Accuplacer Math test, I’d freeze and shut down. I never even got to the actual test because I was afraid of having a meltdown during the test, which was the last thing I wanted to happen.
Prior to high school graduation, teachers should focus on subjects that the student likes, and if the student is good at that particular subject then that’s great too. But teachers should never push their own teaching style on the student if it’s not working for the student.
In these IEP meetings and parent-teacher conferences, the student should be a part of them. The staff in the meeting should ask the student what their interests are and what their learning style is and then apply those to the student’s academic plan. That way, the student will better success at learning these subjects.
Yes, I know that many subjects in school, such as math, are a requirement for problems when we leave school, but students should be taught those subjects in a way that works for them, and many students aren’t being taught in those ways, which makes learning very difficult for them, and can have adverse consequences.
I hope that some of you reading this post will take my experiences and these tips into consideration, especially if you’re an educator or an administrator. I don’t want any other student to go through what I went through.