Ms. Crystal Chan, Chinese Subject Teacher — On My Way to Support Children with Dyslexia
Ms. Crystal Chan joined Pathways as Chinese subject teacher in September 2017. Before then, she had taught Chinese at a secondary school for eight years, and was also the SENCO (Special Education Needs Coordinator) in the school. Ms. Chan felt that the move from a conventional school to a non-profit organization gave her greater opportunity to apply the theoretic principles she learned to actual practice.
“Working within a school, I had to make sure that the students can keep up with the curriculum. Yet it was difficult for me to closely follow up with each individual student who had learning difficulty, and I could not fully utilize what I have learned to help them due to resource limitations,” said Ms. Chan. Incidentally, Ms. Chan came across an opportunity to know about Pathways, and realized that Pathways was an organization that specializes in supporting students with dyslexia, led by experienced professionals in the medical and education fields. Hence she decided to join the Pathways team.
From her teaching experience at Pathways, Ms. Chan is pleased to find that she can attend to the individual needs of her students within the small group setting of two to three students. Teachers can also design various learning activities to rekindle students’ learning interest and build their confidence. In addition, under the guidance of Professor Cheng Pui-Wan, Adjunct Associate Professor at the Department of Educational Psychology of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the Pathways teaching team constantly shared insights in teaching to help students with dyslexia bridge the learning gap.
Ms. Chan was most impressed by one Primary 5 student who had very good memory. He was able to remember Ms. Chan’s explanation on how to understand a character by separating its different parts, and then apply the technique to learn new characters on his own. His significant improvement was also the result of his mother’s effort in cooperating with the teacher. As the child was not very talkative, Ms. Chan suggested the mother to share with her son each other’s happy and unhappy events every day through the use of mobile phone recordings. After practicing this for more than a year, the child showed improvement in his ability to organize his speech, while also scoring better grades at school. Moreover, this helped to strengthen the mother-child relationship.
“At Pathways we always focus on communicating with parents because we firmly believe that the support from parents at home is essential. The teacher offers support and guidance, yet eventually it is the parents who can provide continuous training to their child. As their teacher, I can see my students making improvement in learning while developing a better relationship with their parents. This brings me a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment that is hard to find in a conventional school environment,’’ said Ms. Chan.
Ms. Chan also added that children with dyslexia is like a“mini computer” with limited memory capacity. Hence their learning should be guided in simple and systematic ways, while teaching them to apply the knowledge to other situations. This way they can memorize less, and avoid jamming up the memory space in their “mini computers”.