In yesterday’s post, I described some bumps in the road for my twice exceptional student. We’re using his summer break to catch up on crucial reading and writing skills. What a precious kid. When I asked him how he felt about summer tutoring, his response was so poignant: “I’m disappointed but overall it’s a good thing.” I asked him to tell me more about the disappointment and he said, “I’m at my grandparents’ house and I sort of want to relax over the summer.”
His statements are a clear window into the dilemma faced by twice exceptional students. He does understand the long-term benefits and that reasoning sustains his effort for needed academic gains. But he also feels the weight of this summer work. It’s an hour or so each day, so I could tell myself (and him) that it’s a small fraction of his time. However, it’s not a small price to pay. He worked extremely hard all year in the face of tremendous challenges. As I’ve written numerous times, twice exceptional students often exert at least twice the effort. The cost of feeling stupid, when in fact he’s brilliant, takes its toll. He also pays a price for our one hour a day, which does stretch beyond that hour, I admit, First, it feels unfair, although he didn’t use those words. Second, we are working about one-fifth of his academic school day with relentless intensity. In a classroom, his teacher would walk away and then return to see how he’s doing. With me, he is continually providing verbal and written responses. All accompanied by the delightful sound effects and accessories of Google Hangouts. He achieved a ghost-like effect today. Very creative!
I had been concerned that his anxiety about the upcoming school year was affecting our sessions, but that does not seem to be the case. He feels confident about the school year with the exception of the librarian, who “acts nice to the kids when the assistant principal comes by, but as soon as she’s gone, the librarian is yelling at us, ‘You can only get a book at your reading level.’ ” That request might sound reasonable, but for a student who is acutely aware of reading well below his peers, that comment is devastating. It does not account for his interests in more advanced subjects nor his parents’ willingness to read to him.
When I reviewed where he had started the summer, where we are now, and how much more he needs to accomplish, my student was thrilled. He had thought there was so much more! Despite the issues of working memory and phonological weaknesses, he’s better able to locate the correct “files” for categories of words and syllabication rules. His skills and confidence are on the rise!