As a young person, I didn’t feel smart in school. Each day I struggled with auditory-sequential instruction in the classroom, unable to articulate the internal frustrations that created. Like so many students with similar struggles, I believed I was ‘stupid.’ During those formative years, this belief dismantled my self-image and damaged my self-esteem.
School was a place that I came to dread; a place where I suffered in silence for many years.
Quite unexpectedly, leading a classroom of diverse learners (as a teacher) is how I came to understand myself as a visual-spatial learner who thought primarily in pictures and who learned holistically, instead of sequentially (or in parts). This knowledge informed the way I delivered instruction, always seeking to accommodate individual learning differences and ensure that no student in my classroom ever felt inadequate, as I once did.
Creativity is key for a visual-spatial learner. Although much of the traditional school environment is designed with the auditory-sequential learner in mind, there are things that teachers can do to make learning more accessible for visual-spatial learners. The most obvious of these is the copious use of visual aids in learning. Any auditory instruction needs to be accompanied by something that the student can see with their eyes, or manipulate with their hands.
Visual-spatial learners also usually grasp reading more easily if they are taught using the sight, or whole-word method, rather than with phonics. When possible, instead of writing out their work, allow them to represent their learning in visual and creative ways.
I encourage everyone to embrace their individual learning style like a superpower. Once you fully understand it, you’ll be able to use it for good and thrive.
(c) 2018 Devan Blackwell, M.A.