It was interesting to hear a head teacher outlining the difficulties of Special Needs students and an urgent need for teachers to receive better training so that those students who have Special Needs can be absorbed with relative ease into the normal classroom. His cry was for the Ministry of Education and the courses offered for teacher training be more aware of these students and their range of special needs and how they can be included in the classroom. Hence the need for an SEN to be available one per school.
TYPES OF SPECIAL NEEDS STUDENTS
Not all special education needs in the classroom are easily recognized. If a child on entering a new class or just starting school may have a specific learning difficulty the teacher must be made aware either by the parent or by a previous medical or psychological assessment of that child’s learning difference. Once the teacher is cognizant of the child’s difficulty that teacher should be able to include the child within the group and address his/her educational needs.
There are cases however where the parents do not realize that their child has a difficulty in learning or just say he is a bit slow. Some learning differences can be quite subtle and it is not until the child is performing in the classroom with his peers are these differences noted.
There are many types of special needs students who have their education guided by teachers with special education degrees. Some impairments are easily identifiable and can be defined objectively, such as blindness or deafness. Other types of special needs students, like those with autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), psychiatric problems, and multiple disabilities, require a diagnosis from a professional. Some special needs students have learning disabilities, like those with dyslexia or dyscalculia, while others have physical impairments like muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy. Special needs students are also often categorized by level of disability. Levels can range from mild to moderate to severe to profound.
WHO IS THE SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS TEACHER?
The challenge in SEN Teaching profession is one of the reasons why it is more rewarding and provides more job satisfaction than a typical teaching job. After all, when you are working with children with disadvantages and seeing them achieve things beyond what they thought was possible is incredible.
SKILLS REQUIRED TO BE A SEN TEACHER
Empathy Teamwork skills Organizational skills Adaptability & Flexibility
Communication skills Behaviour management skills Story Building skills Administrative skills
Skills and knowledge
• Sound knowledge of teaching and the ability to design courses & materials
• sensitivity and understanding
• patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
• the ability to work well with others
• the ability to create the best conditions for learning or teaching new things
• sound knowledge of the English language
• to be flexible and open to change
• the ability to understand people’s reactions
• to be able to use a computer and main software packages competently & understand diagnoses of a student’s abilities and differences.
To teach pupils with hearing impairment, vision impairment or multi-sensory impairment, you’ll need further specialist qualifications.
• plan lessons and prepare teaching materials
• teach whole class lessons, work with small groups and support pupils individually
• help pupils develop self-confidence, independence and skills for life
• manage pupils’ behaviour, motivate and encourage them to learn
• mark and assess work
• take registers and write reports pertinent to student’s weaknesses & strengths & progress
• understand an utilize an IEP ( Individual Education Plan)
• vary methodology. One size does not fit all.
• work with specialist teaching services, medical staff, therapists and psychologists
• talk to parents and guardians about their children’s progress
• attend meetings, statutory reviews and training workshops
• run training sessions for other teaching staff on special needs issues
SEN teaching certainly isn’t for everyone – but for the right person with required skills and qualification, working with SEN pupils can be a tremendously rewarding profession. You would be responsible to inspire and shape up their life for future obstacles, at the same time learn from them. If you have genuine empathy and if you are serious to pursue your dream career as a SEN Teacher start working to build towards the role and make a difference.
Contributed by Lynden Punnett BA.Cert.Ed.Dip.TEFL.Dip.SpLD (Dyslexia)