It’s 5.30am. and the day begins like any other – my dog Oakley, a six year old chocolate Labrador, is ready for her morning walk. She really is the best alarm clock. I’m not quite awake yet, and the thought that there will be a strong cup of my home-delivered coffee, waiting for me when I get back keeps me walking. Without time to rest, I head to The Cedars Primary School where I am not only a teacher but the ICT coordinator, member of SMT and school governor.
In my NQT year I attended a three day TEACCH autism course. This covered the TEACCH approach research and values with both the theoretical and practical examples of their structured teach. The part I was most interested in was how to implement a highly-structured visual approach for individuals and groups. Now as all teachers know, you cannot take an approach that works in one school and shoehorn it into another setting, but the good thing was that we didn't have to do this; everything could and should be personalised within the framework.
What is excellence and how do we achieve it? How can we take the secretarial out of excellence? You may have heard of Ron Berger and Austin’s Butterflies, showing the stages a boy goes through to create an excellent drawing of a butterfly. It’s an uplifting clip, reminding us how we need to teach our students the drafting process in the pursuit of excellence.
Over the years I’ve taught and supported quite a number of pupils with Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC). I found frequently that a very easy tool to use to aid the development of social skills is social stories. They are a strength-based teaching strategy that helps to develop greater social understanding by providing a visualised plan of a chain of events or situation. The plan or time-frame can be in the form of pictures, sketches, stick figures, comic strips, simple text or photographs. Social stories were created by Carol Gray in 1991 “to help teach social skills to people with autism. They are short pictorial descriptions of a particular situation, event or activity, which include specific information about what to expect in that situation and why.” (The National Autism Society)
Hearing solutions company, Conversor has launched a new brand for its voice recording apps and edit suite family of products. The Notetalker website uses a simple user interface to share their innovative recording solutions. These apps allow students to record classes, with the ability to bookmark or tag important information with a simple bookmark or a text description. The software is easy to use and organise, and both filenames and folders can be made or changed at any moment. With these features, Notetalker apps are particularly useful for SEN students.
Many years ago a headteacher, of long standing, said to me that ‘children do not suffer from depression’. This of course is not true, and was a rather naïve statement to make. Although to be fair, mental health conditions weren’t as widely recognised then as they are now. It is now accepted that children and young people can suffer from all manner of stress, depression, loss and anxiety disorders which may affect how they cope on a day-to-day basis, and can result in negative behaviour and thoughts which in turn can impact on their ability to learn and relationships with their peers.
An infographic to explain dyslexia, how it affects people, and what’s being done to combat these effects:
Christmas is extremely motivating for many learners with SEN, and it can definitely be a time to mix learning with fun (good teaching should always be perceived by pupils as fun). Innovative uses of technology bring education alive and create a positive climate for learning. Here are my favourite resources for teaching SEN at Christmas: