Joselyne has been having difficulty in school. At the beginning of the school year she seemed to be on task. Now, her grades are falling. She is quiet and withdrawn. She is not participating or speaking during group activities. Even at lunch while the others are talking their hearts out, Joselyne is silent. She was always a quite girl, but now she seems to have completely withdrawn. Although according to research1, Haitian children often respond nonverbally by looking down, hiding their faces with their hands, or displaying long pauses, Joselyne’s behavior was beyond this. Her symptoms resemble those of a learning disability. Children with learning disabilities may become frustrated, lose interest in schoolwork, and often withdrawal.
The Teacher- After
noticing Joselyne’s lack of communication, the teacher first
decided to talk to her. She asked her to stay after school for a few
minutes. Alone Joselyne talked a bit more but not very much. When
she did speak, it was just a faint whisper. The teacher asked her
if she liked school and Joselyne said she did. The teacher asked Joselyne
if she thought she was doing well. Joselyne replied, “I don’t
know.” The teacher asked if she needed any help with her schoolwork
and Joselyne just shrugged her shoulders. Then she asked if she understood
her schoolwork and Joselyne again just shrugged her shoulders. The
rest of the meeting continued at about the same pace. Joselyne did
not really give any answers that could have helped. During their last
math unit, Joselyne did not ask any questions, did not say she needed
any help, and did not consult any of her classmates. The teacher knew
math was Joselyne’s best subject so she thought Joselyne understood
the lessons. When Joselyne took the unit test, she got a 52%. Her
reading was also not progressing at any noticeable rate. Joselyne
was having trouble understanding and comprehending much of what she
was reading. The teacher’s next task was to talk to her parents.
The School Counselor- Next the teacher went to the school counselor. She explained the situation and gave her perspective, along with the parents’ perspective. The guidance counselor suggested she meet with Joselyne, look at the work she has been doing and then meet with her parents if she felt there was a problem. After meeting with Joselyne and examining her work, the counselor agreed with the teacher that there could be a learning disability. She wanted to meet with her parents and discuss having her tested.
The ESOL Teacher- The ESOL teacher had also noticed a problem and was going to discuss it with her primary teacher. At first she thought it might just be a temporary stage that she sometimes sees in her ESOL students. As time went on, though, she has noticed that the problem is more than a just setback. The ESOL teacher agrees with the counselor and the teacher in testing Joselyne to see if she could have a learning disability.
The Principal- The
teacher wanted to inform the principal of all the aspects of Joselyne’s
case to see if the principal was in agreement with testing her. The
principal reviewed her records, spoke with the counselor and the ESOL
teacher and concluded that Joselyne should be tested. The principal
thought it would be beneficial to have a meeting with herself, the
counselor, both teachers, and her parents.
Joselyne- Joselyne has become quiet and withdrawn because she feels intimidated and out of place. She does not understand what is happening in class, although she does try. She wants to get good grades and succeed in life, but feels that school and all that is involved is too difficult. When she reads, she doesn’t comprehend what the story is about. It is hard for Joselyne to communicate with the teacher or anyone else about how she is feeling because she doesn’t understand what is happening.
1 Hudicourt-Barnes, J. (2001) Bay
Odyans: Argumentation in Haitian Creole Classrooms (Online), June
22, 2004 http://220.127.116.11/search?q=cache:i4bPtmbfYEMJ:www.terc.edu/handsonIssues/