Navigating Exceptional Learning

Imagine for a moment that you are in class, and the teacher has just finished explaining some concept. Everyone around you is nodding with understanding as she works an example on the board. Initially, you nod right along with everyone else, having genuinely understood the concept and feeling eager to put it into practice as the teacher hands out worksheets.

Suddenly, you are distracted by a loud noise; the irritating roar as the class begins to murmur in transition to "work time." You try to shake yourself back into focus as you are handed the worksheet - a whole page worth of problems the teacher expects you to complete in the remainder of the period (all of 10 minutes). As you look at the worksheet, what just minutes ago seemed easy turns to nonsense. You stare at the paper one, two, eight whole minutes. Your friend, who has been done for three of those minutes, tells you it is easy. The bell rings and you still have made no progress. As a consequence for "not paying attention" you get to spend your recess finishing the worksheet and a phone call home to boot.

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This is a situation all too familiar to the exceptional learner as they are forced to compete with the “normal” population of learners. But there is hope! Our laws protect the exceptional learner and there are a multitude of resources available to enable each learner to succeed. By using appropriate tools, the exceptional learner can utilize their unique strengths in learning to enable them to attain a quality education.

In the following series of posts, I will explore aspects of navigating the educational system as an unconventional learner. I will cover identification of learning disabilities, available helps, the empowerment of the law, and how exceptional learners and their families can be proactive and assertive in order to get the education they desire through the use of the available tools.

It is my hope that you find these posts to be a helpful and encouraging resource in your journey, whether you are the parent of an exceptional learner, or are yourself an exceptional learner.