I am a trained primary teacher with over thirty years experience in schools in London, Tokyo, California and Hong Kong. I am also a parent of two, out of three, children with dyslexia and I am a late-diagnosed dyslexic myself. I feel I am uniquely qualified to see the ‘dyslexia triangle’ of child, parent and teacher, from all angles.
BUT……only since being trained and because of years of CPD can I call myself truly dyslexia-friendly because:
- When I undertook my three-year teacher training not one word was said about any specific learning differences or dyslexia.
- When I began my teaching career no thought was given to differentiating for the children with any learning difficulties.
- In my second teaching job in Tokyo, I spent a week panicking as a parent asked to see me at the end of the year (I thought she was upset at my teaching of her daughter, who was dyslexic) only to discover she came to congratulate me on ‘firing’ her up and giving her confidence!
- Teaching in a bi-lingual Mandarin and English school I was faced with 48 students in one class, seven of whom were incredibly difficult to teach and disrupted the whole class, due to the fact that they had undiagnosed Learning and Attentional Difficulties (masked as they had EAL issues as well) and I had few ‘tools’ and understanding to help me.
- It was after this and because I was struggling as a parent of a bright but dispirited dyslexic, that I realised I really needed to become knowledgeable myself.
- I signed up for the Hornsby Diploma Course, which was the beginning of all my dyslexia-related work since.
This is my teaching career despite (or perhaps because of) being dyslexic myself:
In London I taught at University College School, in Tokyo at the International School of the Sacred Heart and in California I was a child portrait photographer and ran a playschool.
In Hong Kong and three children later, I ran my own Coombe Road pre-school for six years, followed by a year teaching in The Singapore International School. After this I was involved in Teacher Training and as a Teaching Advisor in both Chinese and English schools. At the same time, I gained a distinction for The Hornsby Diploma in Specific Learning Difficulties. I was one of the founding members of the Hong Kong Dyslexia Association and also on the executive committee of F.O.C.U.S. (Focus on Children’s Understanding in School) an ADHD and Learning Differences Support Group.
Since returning to London in 2001, I have been a Visiting Lecturer in SEN on the Return to Teaching Course, in the CPD and Education Departments and a Support Tutor all at Roehampton University. In addition, I have been a mentor/teacher to excluded teenagers in West London attending Westside School.
In 2008 I was a founding member and senior tutor of BLTS (Bath Learning and Therapeutic Support) providing holiday courses in Study Skills as well as Creative and Academic Essay Writing for ages 8 to 3rd Year University dissertation students.
I have provided INSET training and CPD to primary and secondary schools in London, Nottingham, Yorkshire and Hong Kong, on Supporting SpLD in the Mainstream Classroom. I have spoken at several conferences, including the International Dyslexia Conference at Warwick University, The Richmond Dyslexia Association Annual Conference and the FOCUS International Conference in Hong Kong.
Now living in Bath, I am teaching at Bath Spa University on four education courses, from Undergraduate to Masters’ Level and I act as a support tutor to three Masters’ Students in Specific Learning Difficulties.
I also train teaching volunteers in Wandsworth Prison and the graduate education workers for the charity ‘Into University’ which has over thirty centres supporting young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to get in to University.
My whole aim is to provide as many teachers as possible with the skills necessary to become the dyslexia-friendly teacher that I wish I’d been at the beginning of my teaching career.