It’s safe to say that schools and teachers alike are often looking to improve their understanding of SEN, how to further the success of SEN students and their inclusion in mainstream education. ‘As teachers we always strive to keep our expectations high for children with SEND. Indeed, it’s our life’s mission to ensure every child attains their personal best.’ - Cherryl Drabble
If you haven’t previously taught a child with SEN, this can be a daunting area. You may have questions running through your head, such as: ‘What if I’m not doing enough?’, ‘How do I cope with challenging behaviour?’, or ‘Will I be able to make a difference?’
At Simply Education, we can assure you: teaching a child with SEN can be an incredibly rewarding experience. There may be ups and downs but at the end of each day, you will have learned and so will your pupils. Just remember, if something isn’t working, you can adapt your teaching strategy to suit the individual student. Some things may be great for one child but not for another - the key to teaching SEN students is being adaptable.
To help you and your pupils get the most out of your lessons, we’ve put together a list of 4 things to consider that will help to encourage inclusion not only in your lesson plans, but throughout the classroom and further.
Many children with special educational needs have a varying range of difficulties with communication which means they are more perceptive to visual learning. Often times, not being able to communicate or understand what is being asked of them can lead to behavioural issues which could be avoided simply by providing visual aids to your lessons.
The importance of communication in the classroom doesn’t stop there. The other children in your class will be looking to you as an example of how to communicate with their peers. Try to discuss the students’ strengths and what they have done well in the lesson to demonstrate constructive conversations and how to respect each other.
The classroom environment can make a huge difference to how comfortable a child with SEN feels in your classroom and something that may seem small, like having the pencils in a place the child can’t reach, might just make them feel like they don’t belong in the classroom.
Start by making small changes that will make all your students feel safe and calm such as making sure the walls aren’t too busy (we’re not saying paint everything white, just be aware that filling the whole wall with a hundred different colours may be overstimulating for some students). Set up an area where students can go if they need a break, make this space comfortable and ensure the child knows that the area is there to help them and support their learning, not as a punishment. You could try having some soft cushions in a quieter area of the classroom with some soothing activities to calm them down – perhaps some books or gentle music.
'Diversity is about all of us, and about us having to figure out how to walk through this world together.' - Jacqueline Woodson
Children are still developing their social skills so they need a great role model to show them how to respect each other’s differences. Teach them how to ask questions they may have in an appropriate way and encourage students to work and play together so they can begin to understand each other better.
The relationship between you, the student, their parent or carer and between the student and their peers will make a massive impact on the level of support you’re able to offer the student. If you establish a good rapport with a student, they will be more likely to respond to you in a positive manner. To help the student continue to learn even after your lesson, build a strong relationship with their parent or carer and communicate often about the student’s progress – discuss ideas to improve their weaker areas and praise their strengths.
If you’re looking for a new teaching position, our team would love to help you take the next step in your career, and can support you with placements, trainings and applications. Why not register with us today and get started?