Recently I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to attend a workshop with educator, Rich Lavoie. He is an inspiring speaker who uses anecdotes, warm humour and moving stories of the many learning disabled children and their parents he has worked with and known over thirty years in education.

I first learned of Mr. Lavoie a few years ago when my husband, Howie and I were attending a series of workshops put on by a literacy organization for teaching adults how to read. During one of these workshops they showed us a DVD of his F.A.T. City workshop from the 1980’s. The clothes and hair styles may be dated but his forward thinking and innovative approach to working with learning disabled students and understanding what they experience in school is as relevant and fresh today as it was in the 80’s.

Mr. Lavoie employs an interesting tactic in this workshop to help adults understand the world of these kids by taking a classroom full of teachers, parents and school administrators and treating them like learning disabled children are treated on a daily basis. He gives them exercises that are difficult to interpret for most people much like school material that is hard for a learning disabled child to understand. Then he confuses them and is impatient much like some teachers are with these students.

After forty-five minutes of this treatment the adults in his classroom are embarrassed, flustered and definitely not able to “learn” anything with the way he is presenting information. His point is this is how special needs children feel everyday in many classrooms.

I was in tears. I had experienced this treatment and misunderstanding in school with my three Dyslexic children when they were growing up and similar stories from Dyslexics and their parents we have worked with over the years. This is not to say teachers are bad and Mr. Lavoie was quick to point this out. Teachers are overworked and very stressed in many of our schools today and most have not been trained to understand the needs of Dyslexic students or how to teach them.

My husband, Howie and I feel that every teacher graduating from university should be required to watch this workshop. Here is a link to Amazon – F.A.T. City  http://amzn.com/B000KT0UJC

The new workshop I attended recently was focused on two of his new books out: “The Motivation Breakthrough –
6 Secrets to Turning On the Tuned-Out Child”
and “It’s So Much Work to Be Your Friend- Helping the Child with Learning Disabilities Find Social Success”.

This was an inspirational workshop and gave a different perspective on what motivates children in a classroom I haven’t heard before. He talks about “Motivation Myths” that I found surprising and enlightening. We would recommend you check his speaking schedule and attend. You won’t be disappointed! www.ricklavoie.com

Co-founder of Dyslexia Victoria Online

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