Specialist Experience and Skills
General SEN and additional needs teaching experience: I bring my enthusiasm, love of literature and learning, and certainly my patience to my lessons. I use a strategy based on Sweller’s cognitive load theory combating Ebbinghaus’ Forgetting Curve and building habits of learning. I plan lessons which engage my students but don’t overwhelm their working memories. I have a clear understanding of the process by which people learn (born of my time delivering training to PGCE student teachers) which means I am able to identify if there is a barrier or interruption in the process and then act ... Read More
General SEN and additional needs teaching experience: I bring my enthusiasm, love of literature and learning, and certainly my patience to my lessons. I use a strategy based on Sweller’s cognitive load theory combating Ebbinghaus’ Forgetting Curve and building habits of learning. I plan lessons which engage my students but don’t overwhelm their working memories. I have a clear understanding of the process by which people learn (born of my time delivering training to PGCE student teachers) which means I am able to identify if there is a barrier or interruption in the process and then act to tackle it. As a result, my classroom is a calm and focussed place, where students can be themselves, take risks, and feel celebrated and recognised.
My experience supporting students with SEND AND SEMH: I have extensive experience teaching students with SEND and SEMH. For 8 years, I taught in an oversubscribed academy in central London school with higher-than-average proportions of students with needs and with English as a second language. I led on teaching retake classes and McGraw Hill corrective reading classes aimed at supporting students with SEND – specifically those children with reading ages significantly lower than their biological age or lower than 9 years and 6 months (the age at which people are considered to have ‘functional literacy’). I was the curriculum lead for United Teaching – a school based initial teacher training course- and have delivered sessions to >200 trainee teachers on how best to support and engage children with speech and language difficulties, dyslexia, global cognitive delay, mental health issues like anxiety or depression, or who are on the ASD spectrum. The philosophy I taught was that every child is different and every need manifests differently for that child and so a bespoke, individualised approach is vital in enabling our students with SEND/ SEMH to fully access every part of the curriculum and indeed school life.
My experience supporting students with an acquired brain injury: I worked with a student (I shall refer to them as student X) for 3 years – year 7 to 9. Student X acquired a brain injury at birth as a result of being denied oxygen for a significant period of time. Upon introduction, I was informed that student X had a mental age of about 5 years (and a biological age of 11) and was very anxious about transitioning from primary to secondary school. Student X joined my McGraw Hill corrective reading class with a total of 5 others; I focused on building trust for the first few weeks and breaking down any barriers built up by nerves. I applied the Batari Box approach maintaining a calm and even-voiced persona around student X encouraging them to mimic my patterns of speech. Student X settled in well and by Christmas it became clear that they were very able and going to graduate out of my corrective reading class by the end of year 7. Student X is now in a mainstream year 10 class and I maintain a pastoral relationship: popping into lessons to check in and offer praise to continue their growth into a more independent student. I am thrilled for them; they have made excellent progress and now feel very confident approaching their GCSE years.
My experience supporting students with behavioural needs: This academic year, I taught a student (referred to as student Y) who was manage-moved from a local school to Paddington due to behavioral concerns. It became apparent quite quickly that this student was presenting with nervous ticks (and is now in the process of being diagnosed with Tourette’s). The ticks manifested as uncontrollable giggling and made the student feel extremely uncomfortable; they felt singled-out and watched by their peers and began to skip lessons after lunch to avoid the extra attention their condition afforded them. I acted quickly and drew upon the well-established culture of error in my classroom to clarify (for each student) the message that every person must feel valued and respected by their peers. I followed through by modelling exactly what respectful behavior looks like and exactly how to respond when a peer needs support. I made sure that this message was shared with the head of year; student Y no longer misses school and is no longer on a behavior contract. They have settled in and can now focus fully on their academic success.
My experience supporting students with speech, language and/or communication difficulties: I have taught vast numbers of students with speech and language, or communication needs in my years leading the McGraw Hill corrective reading provision. A specific and recent example comes to mind: Student Z has just finished year 11. I met them in September this year to teach them for the first time. Immediately, I focused on them as a critical student as they had not made good progress in year 10. Within a week, I suspected that student Z might have developmental language disorder as I noticed that they would only follow an instruction if they were making direct eye contact with me when I delivered the instruction. Student Z had often been put in detention before year 11 for ‘refusing to follow instructions’; I believed that their potential DLD need was the cause of this pattern rather than defiance. I raised the issue with the SENCO and arranged for a licensed speech and language therapist to assess them. They were indeed diagnosed with DLD. I have learnt that it is vital to closely observe your students as one child with DLD (or indeed any learning need) presents very differently to another and therefore every children requires a personalised approach.
My experience teaching and supporting children in the community: In multiple circumstances across my 8 years in education, I have chaperoned groups of up to 8 children across London (to events from competitions to the theatre). Travelling across a city is often an experience young people can find stressful so I have taken it as an opportunity to teach independence and develop social skills. I relish the opportunity to teach the children in my care about common curtesies often not acknowledged in the school setting (for example, giving up your seat on the tube for someone who needs it more than you). I have found that, often, children with SEND (particularly ASD) can find it hard to identify situations where they are required to respond to strangers. Therefore, travelling on trains and tubes - navigating that complex etiquette- can be a hugely valuable experience.
Teaching GCSE English Resits: I lead on teaching resit classes for students in Paddington Academy who failed to achieve a pass at the end of year 11. My track record of results is strong: the whole cohort passed last year with some students achieving grade 6s and 7s. My experience teaching resit classes has made me proficient at motivating students who have become disenchanted with school, skilled at engaging students in content they have struggled with historically, and practiced at finding fresh, new ways to help a student understand challenging material. Finally, there are very high rates of students with English as an Additional Language (EAL) at Paddington Academy (with some arriving in the country with little to no English), as well as students with SEND as we have an outstanding SEND department and are oversubscribed. Therefore, I am also experienced in adapting curriculum content to make it appropriate for students to ensure every child can access every learning opportunity and can succeed.
Teaching reading skills to students with SEN including global developmental delay and dyslexia: I lead the McGraw Hill Corrective Reading program for 7 years now (after a year of shadowing and training) and am proficient in teaching phonics alongside improving reading comprehension for students with a range of needs – from global delay to dyslexia. All my students graduated out of my class and back into mainstream classes (where they continued to receive extra support from teachers I coached) within one year on the program - after they achieved functional literacy and a reading age of 9.6 years.
Experience small-group tutoring: For 5 years, I tutored small groups of students who I identified as ‘critical’ as they were not making expected progress in their mainstream lessons. To support these students with their learning and help them to catch up, I planned bespoke lessons
which targeted their weakest areas: spelling; punctuation; grammar; reading comprehension; reading fluency; and verbal reasoning. I measured success by keeping a ‘star board’ and ending each session with a review. During the review, I
celebrated the students’ individual successes and encouraged them to recognise areas where their peers had also made progress. Each student graduated out of the small group and back into mainstream before the end of the school year; they had developed better habits of study and become more resilient in lessons because they were finally confident enough to identify their own successes.