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The Daily Ardmoreite
  • Left-handed teacher just may have an advantage

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  • Motor skills are a large part of the curriculum for early educators.
    Many left-handed children will hold their pencil differently or turn their hand strangely as they struggle to write properly.
    Having a teacher who is left-handed can help left-handers learn proper techniques.
    Amanda Cramer, Will Rogers Elementary preschool teacher, had a first-grade teacher who taught her proper technique for holding a pencil and turning her paper so she can write.
    "I'm so thankful I had her to teach me the right way," Cramer says.
    In order to teach right-handed students, left-handed teachers need to adjust things in their classroom.
    When Head Start preschool teacher Julie Warrington's students gather for circle time, she stands on the left. She uses her dominate hand to point out the date, day, weather and other important things.
    "Other teachers tell me I stand on the wrong side, but otherwise, I would block the vision of the children," Warrington says.
    Items that also get noticed by other teachers include check marks, which when writing from left, end up the opposite direction.
    In addition to flipping her check marks, Warrington had to train herself to write O's and Q's counterclockwise. When writing with the left hand, it is a natural movement to write them clockwise.
    Most teachers will stand behind a student and guide their hand through tasks to develop the necessary motor skills. However, for teachers with the opposite dominate hand, changes have to be made. Warrington sits to a right-hand student's right so that her left hand can guide the child's right hand.
    Assistant Principal Myiesha Antwine writes with her left hand. She also does a few other random tasks, like washing dishes and pulling out laundry. Yet, she uses scissors and staplers with her right hand.
    "I consider myself left-handed because that is the hand I write with," Antwine says.
    She learned to write from her aunt. Her aunt grabbed her hand and showed her the motions for writing, so that is the hand she has always used for the task.
    Antwine says that at a young age, children can be taught to write with either hand, considering that they haven't had experience using either hand. She recalls her own experiences as a classroom teacher.
    "They follow the teacher. They see the hand I'm writing with and do it that way. One year, I made half my class left handed," Antwine says. "It's just motion memory. With my left hand on top of their left hand, I can teach somebody to be left-handed."
    Last school year, Warrington had one left-handed student.
    "Her mom, who is right-handed, was impressed because she didn't know how to help her. She picked things up quickly, I just had to show her with the left," Warrington says.
    Page 2 of 2 - Left-handers are also obvious in the cafeteria. As a teacher, it was normal for Warrington to sit regularly on one end. However, Warrington began to notice that her left-handed student would sit in the same seat every day, no matter where she was in the lunch line and despite the lack of assigned seats.
    "She would sit in the exact same spot so she wouldn't bump into people. She didn't even vocalize it. She just did it," Warrington says.
    When Warrington decided to sit in a new spot, she realized she had also been unconsciously sitting in the same spot for the same reason.
    "The students kept saying, 'Ms. Warrington ,you're hitting my arm'," she says.
    Right-handed teachers have a challenge, too, when they have left-handed students.
    "I have to sit across from them so they can shadow me," says Angie Tree, preschool teacher.
    She has also found alternative ways to tie shoes that are easier, no matter which hand is dominate.
    "The hardest part is actually teaching the crossover at the beginning," Tree says.
    However, teachers know that whichever hand a student uses, they need to know proper techniques.
    "I don't worry too much about the left-hand, right-hand thing," Tree says.
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