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Poor Verbal Memory -coping strategies



I couldn't find a topic that covers Staff health and disability so began one.


- First the NUT has recently begun a disabled members newtwork -see: http://www.teachers.org.uk/story.php?id=4368 They have a conference in London Sat. 8 November 2008


- Second I wonder if there are any other teachers out there, (EY especially), who have some experience of coping strategies as regards poor verbal memory. It would be really useful to discuss these strategies.

I am epileptic, (well controlled), but it has left me with a legacy of a verbal memory that is poor relative to other teachers. I am considering PDAs and customised filofax type things, as well as trying to transpose the verbal memory demands into the well functioning parts of my memory. But exactly how to do that is unclear. Any help appreciated!




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Hello Brian,

A warm welcome to the forum.


You pose a very interesting question which I will be interested to see others responses. My foster son (been with me for a year) has just been statemented with PSCN, one aspect being his short term memory. I am very interested in learning about brain function and the use of stategies such as Brain Gym, and kinaesthetic approaches.


did a quick google and found these tips;




I have had experience of employing a lady as a preschool assistant, who had learning difficulties. All tasks required of her were defined in small steps, using visual clues. She had an excellent memory for information such as which children attended each day, whether they stayed for lunch or not, yet had difficulties remembering basic sequences of for example how the snack bar was set up. Unfortunately I experienced discrimination as to her value as an employee from the LEA advisory teachers, they questioned her employability because her academic abilities were poor, without giving any value or respect of her innate ability to communicate and have excellant rappor and relationships with the children. :o

This person had previously worked voluntarily (unpaid) for 10 yrs in another preschool (which I felt was exploitation) until she worked for me, she stayed with me for 3 yrs until I closed my business.


Sorry a bit off track there.



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Hi Brian and welcome to the Forum!


I'm not a teacher, and nor am I an expert in how the brain organises itself in terms of memory - verbal or otherwise. Without knowing about the kinds of situations you find difficult, its hard to know what to suggest. My initial thought was that perhaps you would benefit from consulting an expert - whether one with 'medical' training, for want of a better word, or perhaps a Neuro Linguistic Programming practitioner or similar. But in all probability you've been down that route already... :o


What I do know is that there are so many people on here who have such a wide range of experiences that if anywhere that can provide some support and advice, its here!


I hope someone more knowledgeable will be along soon!



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Hi Brian,

Welcome to the forum, and thanks for making your first post.


I'm not really familiar with problems with short term memory: can you give a couple of examples of where these difficulties cause problems during your working day?

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Wow, great to get replies so quickly. many thanks for your welcome and ideas. I look forward to more. Here is information I have gathered so far of relevance. Also how it affects me in school life.


How it affects my school life:


It affects my 'bald' memory, not conceptual or visual spatial. That is things to remember that tale me unawares (eg.a parent helper is coming in at a different time), and prospective memory -remembering thigs t do at a future time. I have difficulty coping with the logistics of primary life and the constant low-level chaos of a constantly changing environment. Also as a trainee initially fitting into other peoples systems. If I design them I can remember things much better. I tend to work things out from first principles, from a conceptual core. This, however, is not always quick enough, or works when there no apparent logic to a system to me.


Things like remembering when staff meetings are; playtime duties; things I've talked about with my teacher tutor or in staff meetings, or passing in the corridor; things parents have mentioned in the melee of the morning or at pickup; etc. It thus can affect realtions with colleagues who can perceive me as unreliable; lazy; not bothered; etc.


This may be useful:


Mild Head Injury: A Self-Help Guide for Understanding and Managing Post-Concussion Symptoms





An extract:


Managing difficulties in memory


One of the main ways to manage memory difficulties is to

identify ways to compensate for the memory problems.

This can be done either using objects or devices within your

environment (external strategies), or strategies that involve

processing information differently in your own mind (internal



a) external strategies involve using diaries, calendars, notice

boards, and lists such as shopping lists or “To Do“ lists.

Electronic devices such as dictaphones, tape-recorders and


alarms on watches, mobile phones or pagers, can prompt

people to recall information and carry out activities at

appropriate times. External strategies such as these tend to be

most successful, especially if you build on those that you may

have used before your injury (such as a diary).


:o internal strategies can include repeating something several

times, create meaningful links and associations (such as

remembering someone's birthday on 24th December is

Christmas Eve), grouping information together under several

subheadings (such as a shopping list into different types of

foods) and using mental pictures and imagery. Such methods

are helpful in processing and storing information.


c) setting up routines and organizing your environment to keep

items in set places will also minimise some memory issues.

Simplifying tasks can reduce the demands placed on memory,

such as setting up direct debits to pay bills on time. Focussing

on one item at a time can also be helpful, as can grouping only

small amounts of information. Such methods should help more

information to be stored and therefore retrieved.


Refer to the booklet “Management of memory difficulties”

(BASIC) for further advice on this topic.



(about 2/3 down the scroll)


Disabled Teachers Conference

Saturday, 8th November 2008

Mander Hall, Hamilton House, London


There will be a range of speakers and workshops


Please contact Sarah Thompson at NUT, Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, London, WC1H 9BD. Tel: 020 7380 4787 Email: s.thompson@nut.org.uk


I suggest also it is worth contacting:


Rosamund McNeil

Principal Officer (Gender,LGBT and Disability Equality)

Phone: 0207 380 4721


Hope all this is useful to people and that there is not too much info here! Also that I can somehow find someone else who has specific coping strategies of interest. As i have only just learnt I have this memory deficit I'm trying to network asap.

Thanks again to everyone



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Are your colleagues aware of your memory difficulties? How do you cope when timetables change, when the unexpected happens? Are you a bit harsh on yourself when you do forget?



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Many thanks for peoples posts and links. It is always good to have people to bounce thoughts off. I have seen a neuropsychologist who has done tests and confirmed the verbal memory is in the 25 pecentile whereas the verbal IQ is where I think most teachers are - the 95 percentile. So I know there is an issue, but not insurmountable.


I will certainly make my verbal memory deficit known to my colleagues -I think it is important in terms of staff relations.


As change is so ubiquitous in the primary environment the coping strategies are key -and these are what I am trying to tease out. I feel that many of the 'normal' memory aids are not of much use given the volume of info, the slightly chaotic nature of school systems and the ever changing cohort needs.


Anybody with any bright ideas on oping strategies....please shout them out! As I develop them I will let everyone know.


Hard on myself....hmmm...I don't feel so particularly, but perhaps.

many thanks



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