The Student Who Stutters

The Student Who Stutters

About a Student who Stutters
This article is featured online on the Education World website. Dr. Ken Shore is the author of this article, which premiered in May 2007, and it deals with the appropriate strategies teachers can use when dealing with a student who stutters.

The Question
Dr. Kenneth Shore is a psychologist who has worked with different public school systems for over 25 years. He has written six books and has produced a book and video series on bullying. Dr. Shore answers a question on line that deals with a student in 8th grade. An 8th grade English teacher writes that a boy in his/her class is a pronounced stutter. The teacher wants the student to feel comfortable and not self-conscious about his problem. Dr. Shore is obliged to give helpful suggestions. His first suggestion is to promote free speech in the classroom rather than fluent speech. Teachers should listen attentively and patiently because children who do stutter are sensitive to the reactions of listeners. The teacher should also be a model for other students on how to respond to the student who stutters. If the student gets the sense that teachers or others are uncomfortable, he will try harder not to stutter which could possibly increase his dysfluency. Try to give the student undivided attention, eye contact and no interruptions. Respond patiently and calmly to his response. Avoid setting any time limits or constraints because the pressure may increase his dysfluency. Also avoid drawing attention to his stuttering by finishing his sentences or supplying him with words. These types of actions shows the student that the teacher is uncomfortable with his stuttering which might make him more self conscious about his speech.

The Principal
There was an article written in the Washington Post on November 30,2006 by Daniel de Vise. The title of the article is ‘Principals Honored for Taking Their Schools Ahead’. This article is about a former student, Nelson McLeod, who became principal of Newport Mill Middle School. He talks about the impact stuttering had on his elementary and middle school years. Nelson McLeod grew up in Queens, NY. He was smart but reluctant to talk in class because he stuttered. On day in middle school, the teacher called on him to read and he just shut down. He could not do it. The teacher verbally attacked him. When he was in sixth grade, a teacher called him stupid. McLeod said that it was in sixth grade that he realized the influence a teacher had. He wanted to be a teacher and influence children in a meaningful, non harming way. He did become a teacher and at the age of 42 he became the winner of the Distinguished Educational Leadership Award from the Washington Post. McLeod and his teachers at Newport Mill have made strides in closing the racial achievement gap. Sixty-eight percent of the black 8th graders at Newport Mill take high school math.

What this means to us
We as teachers carry power with our words. It is important for us not to misuse this power and make sure that our words are always uplifting and encouraging. Lessons and lesson plans that provide accommodations are great but are useless if our words do not speak of good intentions. It is important for us to provide students with positive examples of people who have their particular difficulty. We have to make sure that we impact students self esteem in a positive manner. Providing students with positive examples like Nelson McLeod will create a bond with a student and show that you as a teacher are interested in making this student included instead excluded.

Footnotes:
Shore, Kenneth. (2007) About a Student who Stutters. www.educationworld.com, May 18,2007.
Vise, Daniel de. (2006) Principals Honored for Taking Their Schools Ahead. Washington Post, November 30, 2006.
Wikipedian Assignment added by Andrea (Andy) Spann.