The school bells are ringing

Learning Differences

8 September 2020

Back to school season is among us, which makes it a good time to share a bit about our Learning Differences Programme.

There is a growing awareness among teachers in North Carolina that a “one-size-fits-all” approach to teaching will not prepare students for success in school and in life. This is thanks, in part, to the work of EdNC, an online, daily, independent newspaper  that works to expand educational opportunities for all children in North Carolina, increase their academic attainment, and improve the performance of the state’s public schools. EdNC elevates stories, tools and resources that equip teachers, principals and other education leaders to better understand and meet the diverse and unique learning needs of their students.

Rupen Fofaria is a reporter and storyteller who writes for EdNC. “The work is very personal to me,” he says. “I’m a person with learning differences … and I remember very well what it was like at school. It feels like even when you are paying attention, you still can’t grasp concepts, and that’s a very scary and lonely place.”

By reporting on the experiences that students with learning differences have and what teachers can do to better support these students, EdNC seeks to raise awareness of the solutions available in North Carolina. “We really get into the classrooms and see what special education, as well as the broader context of learning differences, looks like in schools,” says Rupen. “There’s a vast amount of information from data, research and best practices that’s been produced nationally and state-wide that doesn’t always find its way to the teachers. I want to present that to teachers so that they can better reach their students.”

When asked about his experiences at school, Rupen says, “I remember being afraid to say anything about the challenges I faced. It wasn’t that I had been taught a concept and I couldn’t get it to work, it was that I just didn’t understand what they were saying, and I didn’t want to sound stupid.” Through his reporting work at EdNC, Rupen hopes to reach teachers and students and remind them, that though people’s brains are wired differently, it’s something to be celebrated, not shunned.

EdNC highlights where students with learning differences are succeeding well, and which schools are getting teaching methods right. EdNC also reports on challenges schools across the state of North Carolina are facing, and seeks to educate and inform policy-makers so that their efforts are supportive of the needs of all students, including those with learning differences. “At EdNC, we’re widely read among policy makers. We’re confident that we’re going to be read by the legislators who care about education, by the state board, by people who can make a difference to state policy,” says Rupen.

For too many students, the environments in which they learn does not support their success. The approach that many schools apply to teaching and learning can be particularly limiting for students who do not conform to the “average”. This is why Oak’s LDP promotes more equitable educational experiences to bring about better outcomes for every student, particularly those who learn differently. We focus on three areas of partnership and investment that provide assistance and support to unlock the potential of all students. You can Learn more about LDP’s strategy here.

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