Teaching math with a mathematics disorder

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by crazycatlady80, Apr 29, 2015.

  1. crazycatlady80

    crazycatlady80 Rookie

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    May 1, 2015

    Taking a little extra time (I'm only talking about one or two minutes) to find a mistake isn't that big of a deal. In fact, strictly legally speaking, it sounds like a reasonable accommodation. For full disclosure, I also have a difficult time remembering the exact order of the alphabet (or really that has anything to do with sequencing). I always have to write it down or sing my ABCs to myself. I also take an extra second or two to figure out my left and right. Using your definition of fluency, I guess I can't even teach pre-schoolers. And, yet, I've managed to earn multiple degrees and get accepted into a PhD program.

    Also, you mentioned previously that I might not be able to spot a student with poor mathematics skills. I can spot it almost instantly, because I see the same behavior in myself. In fact, in has been my experience, that I can spot learning disabilities much better than someone who doesn't, because I hung around a lot of special ed kids growing up and know exactly what to look for in a student. As I said before, I know my strengths and weaknesses. I started getting services from the district at three; had my first IEP at five; entered resource at eight. I know EXACTLY what I can and can't do. Shouldn't I be the best one to determine if I can teach something? Maybe it won't work teaching elementary, because I feel it might be just too much with the math? Maybe secondary might be a better place for me? Honestly, I just don't know. I have to explore my options and only I can make that decision. The bottom line is that I am not my disability, which is something special ed teachers should instilling in their students.
     
  2. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    May 1, 2015

    I did not say that you can't spot a student without skills. I said you might not be able to spot where they are going wrong in a problem.

    Well, I doubt preschoolers will be adding or doing math beyond initial recognition of numbers and some basic counting. I doubt they will be alphabetizing. So, unless you can explain how my concern about your math fluency to recognize errors quickly as students are working means you can't work with preschool aged children, I will consider your claim hyperbole.

    Your degrees are admirable. Those degrees don't necessarily mean you will be a good teacher due to your trouble with math and sequencing. We will also disagree that you needing an extra minute or two is not a big deal. That is a lot of time for something that should take seconds. Multiply that over the course of a day, week, or year that is a lot of learning time missed while you figure out something that should take a moment. You aren't talking about getting an accurate answer three seconds longer than others.

    I strongly believe there are many jobs out there that you would do a good job where your disability isn't going to be a hindrance. I just don't think teaching MATH is one. If you were saying you would only be teaching ELA or social studies I would have absolutely no problem with what you have indicated as issues. My issue is that you are going to be teaching math.

    No, you are not the disability, but there are things that your strengths and weaknesses are better suited to. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses which is one reason I am not a neurosurgeon or an athletic trainer. Just because I might really want to be one doesn't mean it is the right choice even if I force the issue. Saying you are not your disability and it doesn't define you is a very uplifting saying, but it is an often misused saying.
     
  3. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Phenom

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    May 1, 2015

    You would have no problem teaching math to my students. We are working on touch math right now. There are many other simple and straightforward lessons you wouldn't have any trouble with with my students. They have multiple disabilities so we have to work on EVERY lesson slowly and over and over again. You will just have to find a specific teaching job that lets you teach to the best of your ability. Should you be teaching AP calculus?? NOPE...many of the previous posters don't either! So what, see what you can do. You might not find a job easily because of this issue but I think you could do well in the right job.
     
  4. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    May 1, 2015

    I used the term "math fact fluency" because it suited, and still suits, the set of skills that keep being describing as necessary to teach math: the ability to recall and recite math facts accurately and automatically.

    Recognizing errors is a different matter. Do we have conclusive evidence that crazycatlady can't ever tell when a student has made an error in math? That's not an ability that is likely to be tested in a psychological battery, nor does it figure much in tests except for teacher tests.

    Note, please, that I am not arguing that anyone with any math disability must be allowed to teach all levels of math. I'm arguing against the proposition that diagnosis with a math disability ought to be an automatic disqualification to teach math at any level. That's a very different proposition.
     
  5. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    May 1, 2015

    I would strongly suggest that OP's words contributed to my belief that crazycatlady will struggle to identify student errors when helping students. "Can't ever" is an all-inclusive phrase which is a impossible standard. I'm sure there would be times she would recognize an error. However, needing an addition minute or two to come up with a fact and needing a calculator to calculate 13-9 gives me great pause at the level of weakness that OP has shared with us. So, while I don't have "conclusive evidence" that the OP will struggle to identify errors in student work when she is trying to help them, there is a very strong implication that needing the additional minute or two and needing a calculator strongly suggests that it is a relative weakness that will hinder her job teaching math.


    I'm out of this thread now. I wish the OP all the luck in finding a position that will suit her strengths.
     
  6. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    May 1, 2015

    My goodness: a divergent opinion is that repellent?
     
  7. spedalong

    spedalong Rookie

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    May 8, 2015

    I, too, had difficulties with math in school and still do. I think much of mine had to do with a fear of failure. I believe this made it easier for me to empathize with my students and gave me incite into teaching them. I avoid positions where I would have to teach algebra because I could not apply it in working out problems. The sped paperwork requires a little addition, subtraction, and figuring percentages in putting minutes into an IEP. With a little preparation ahead of time, you will do fine.
     
  8. ecteach

    ecteach Devotee

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    May 8, 2015

    I have never been tested, but if I were, I am absolutely sure it would be determined that I had a learning disability in math. Guess what? I taught a middle school math resource class years ago, and all of my students except 2 passed the state test. I actually found that I was a much better math teacher than reading or writing. Reading and writing come so easy to me that it's hard for me to teach it to another person. Math is a constant struggle for me, so I can break it down for the kids in the same manner that I have to break it down for myself.
    Now I teach elementary self-contained, so the only math we do is very simple.
    Don't give up! YOU CAN DO IT!
     
  9. anna9868

    anna9868 Habitué

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    May 9, 2015

    way to go, ecteach! I'm so glad I grew up in a country where they didn't diagnose kids. I'd have a bouquet of diagnoses, I'm sure!

    what you say is so true, especially, for those teaching foreign languages. Very often, if a person learned a language as a foreign language, learned seriously, he often makes a much better teacher than the native speaker.

    My favorite teacher in college was Spanish teacher, an American guy who learned Spanish proficiently, knew is better than many native speakers, and made an excellent teacher.

    Kuddos to you, OP and everyone is who is teaching fearlessly despite the heavy weight of those diagnoses!
     

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