Teachers play a vital role in recognizing if a student is showing signs of a learning impairment. They can accommodate for a child’s learning disability in a variety of ways- providing additional worksheets, introducing a topic through a different angle, and other supplementary material. Claudenia Williams dove into her first year as a teacher with a goal of breaking the traditional teaching styles from the start. Herself a dyslexic, she knew that in order for some students to learn, the classroom had to be filled with hands on and visual teaching.

Williams wasn’t diagnosed with dyslexia until her last year of college. She went through almost all of her entire academic years wondering why she worked twice as hard as her peers just to keep up. In order to retain material Williams created her own notes after lessons, filled with diagrams and revised notes. She says she had to “turn it [notes] into something visual” and discover her own mechanisms to learn. Williams even admits that because of her constant struggle with school her self-esteem took a hit.

Upon graduating from Birmingham University, Williams was a featured first year teacher on BBC’s short series Tough Young Teachers. The six episode mini series followed six young adults through their first year teaching. Newly aware of her own dyslexia, Williams created and implemented a 10th grade science curriculum with a wide variety of approaches to the material. She engaged the students in every lesson, even making up a dance to teach enzymes. The school Williams taught at was in a ‘disadvantaged’ district, labeled so because of the high number of free school lunches provided- indicating a low-income area. As a result of her non traditional classroom teaching styles, her entire class of 10th graders achieved a passing grade.

Beyond the classroom, Williams helps organizations like Dyslexia Action bring awareness to issues surrounding dyslexia. She thinks every teacher should have basic awareness knowledge and training in Specific Learning Difficulties so learning disabilities like dyslexia can be recognized and accommodated for early in a child’s education.

Read here to learn more about Claudenia Williams’ story.