Alana Seidenberg has learned through her years of experience that the way an educator communicates to their students with diagnosed learning disabilities needs to be explicit, direct and sometimes broken down. “Typical learners have the initiative to look and explore, but our students need you to break it down for them and they need practice with the tools you've provided,” she said.
Alana Seidenberg came to Horizon Academy from the Schefa School in New York City. The Schefa School is much like Horizon Academy in that it specifically educates students with diagnosed learning disabilities, like dyslexia. Seidenberg is currently a homeroom teacher in Horizon Academy’s Lower School. “Dyslexia appears differently in each child,” she said, “but the strategies are the same. It is important to teach them to be successful academically, socially, and emotionally.”
Seidenberg has a M.A. specifying in Learning Disabilities and has been trained extensively in Orton-Gillingham, Multisensory Math, writing, and Responsive Classroom. She recognizes that some students have trouble learning in the traditional classroom setting, so she looks for new ways to reach her students. “We were learning about arrays during math and my class seemed very confused with the difference between rows and columns. I had to find a way to re-explain, so I related them to real-life objects. Columns were like pillars on a building and the rows were like the seats in a movie theater. That seemed to really click,” she explained.
Along with their academic abilities, Seidenberg anticipates that her students' interpersonal and self-advocacy skills will continue to grow throughout the year. “It’s exciting to see them forming opinions, sharing respectfully, and problem solving without my prompt,” she said. All of her students should feel comfortable enough to ask for help and learn how to explain their problem clearly.
Seidenberg’s goal is for her students to feel supported and encouraged in their environment, similar to how Seidenberg felt when she first moved to Kansas City. “Horizon Academy parents, teachers, and staff have been so supportive and it has been really nice to feel so welcomed, especially coming from out of state and so far away from home,” she said. Seidenberg values the relationship she builds with her students. Her years of experience working with kids with learning disabilities helps her build lasting relationships with her students that will positively impact their educational experience for years to come.
“The educational practice of explicit instruction in language is what helps a student with learning disabilities learn and that is the same no matter which state I teach in,” she said.