Specialist Experience and Skills
After completing my Postgraduate Degree in Education I taught Year 2 for three years and progressed to the role of overseeing Literacy in both Key Stage 1 & 2 as Literacy Subject Leader. I was then part of setting up a new English curriculum school in Dubai where I was Founding Key Stage 1 Leader and whole school assessment Leader, as well as teaching both year 1 and 3. During the last 6 years I have taught a wide range of children with a variety of learning styles, Special Educational Needs, sensory and emotional needs, and behavioural challenges - this includes children with autism, ADHD... Read More
After completing my Postgraduate Degree in Education I taught Year 2 for three years and progressed to the role of overseeing Literacy in both Key Stage 1 & 2 as Literacy Subject Leader. I was then part of setting up a new English curriculum school in Dubai where I was Founding Key Stage 1 Leader and whole school assessment Leader, as well as teaching both year 1 and 3. During the last 6 years I have taught a wide range of children with a variety of learning styles, Special Educational Needs, sensory and emotional needs, and behavioural challenges - this includes children with autism, ADHD, PDA, SPD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, and memory and processing difficulties.
I believe that my natural empathy, patience and personality allows me to build a solid, meaningful relationship with the children I teach quickly, gaining their trust, making them feel comfortable and confident, all of which are conducive in developing as both a child and a learner, and achieving their educational, behavioural and emotional goals. Building on this foundation I am able to develop lessons that lend themselves to an individual’s learning style, their interests, passions and ability. In turn, it is possible to really embed learning through questioning and practical and tactile activities that are fun and engaging for the child. It is through this style of approach that helps reignite a child's love for learning, their confidence and develop a growth mindset that moves them closer to becoming the independent, inquisitive and confident learner that they have the potential to be.
Having worked closely with specialists in Speech and Language, Behaviour, Play and Sensory Therapy, as well as Educational Psychologist and Occupational Therapist I have a good understanding from the early observation and assessment stage, through to developing an Individual Educational Plan (IEP) and its implementation and integration in to a child’s daily learning and routines. In addition to this experience, as part of my Literacy Leader role, I developed a reading initiative specifically aimed at raising boys’ interest in reading and addressing the ‘reading gender gap’ that has continued to be an issue in recent years.
Specialist teaching experience for children with Autism and ADHD: I have worked, and currently work with, many children diagnosed with Autism and ADHA both on a 1:1 basis at home and in a school setting. As part of these close working relationships we have looked at innovative ways we can allow the child to access the curriculum drawing on their strengths, interested and tailoring learning to their own unique personalities. Often integrating visual supports, creating opportunities that allow for longer time to process information and ensuring that instructions are short, clear and succinct when being delivered. Using topics of interest as a vehicle encourages children to really engage in their learning and gives them a level of autonomy that helps build independence. With the right approach children can quickly change their attitude to learning and build a confidence that they have perhaps not experienced before. I’ve been able to support progress, improve confidence and develop self-esteem whist cultivating a really love for learning and having fun in the process.
Experience supporting children to enhance their memory, processing and comprehension: Working memory plays a vital role in how children hold on to and work with information stored in short-term memory. I have done a lot of work with children in both a school setting and 1:1 tuition to help improve and develop this area of learning. Through the use of games that use visual memory such as playing cards (Go fish!) to initiating active reading activities that involve collecting and collating information as a text is read I have been able to support many children in improving their memory, processing and comprehension skills, ensuring that it is delivered in a fun and engaging way.
Specialist experience supporting children with speech and language delay: I have gained a lot of experience working with children to improve and develop their speech and language. This has involved close work and collaboration with Speech and Language specialists to plan an approach that is tailored for the individual child around their needs, interests and personality in a way that is fun, engaging and offers the opportunity for the child to make ongoing progress with realistic and manageable steps and targets. I give the children I work with the encouragement and tools they need to promote and develop their communication that they use in both the context of academic learning and social interactions. I have worked with children ranging from reception to year 6 in school, and in a 1:1 home-school setting.
Specialist experience supporting children with Dyspraxia and helping develop fine and gross motor skills: I have worked with a range of children that have challenges with their fine and gross motor skills, motor planning and coordination. I have worked closely with Occupational Therapists (OTs) and Physical Therapists (PTs) to plan activities, interventions and daily routines that can address the individual child’s needs.
Incorporating exercises and games that can aid the improvement of gross motor skills, balance and co-ordination can be a fun way of improving a child’s physical development and increase their ability and confidence to complete everyday tasks.
The importance of fine motor skills is often over looked, but the use of these smaller muscle of the hands, used when undertaking daily tasks like doing up buttons, opening lunch boxes or writing or cutting with scissors is vital in a child’s development of their academic performance and self-esteem. I have done extensive work in both the UK and Middle East around supporting children in developing these fine motor skills.
Helping children build a foundation on which they can continue to develop skills such as hand and finger strength, hand eye coordination, hand dominance, hand division and how to best manipulate an object are instrumental in so many things a child needs in daily life as a student.
From planning subtle daily interventions involving activities such as threading and lacing, using Play-doh, science pipettes transferring water, to full termly plans using crafts and art to address these fine motor goals, I ensure that we draw on these fun and engaging activities that can accelerate this fine motor progression.
Specialist dyslexia teaching experience: Back at the beginning of my teaching career I chose to focus my Post Graduate dissertation on inclusion, this discussed the issues for ‘inclusion’ in the mainstream primary and Early Years setting. I looked closely at the on-going debate regarding inclusion, looking specifically within the context of Special Educational needs. As part of this research project I did a lot of work around a range of learning challenges, and I spent a considerable amount of time learning about Dyslexia.
This armed me with invaluable insight and the perfect foundation to build on. In my role as Literacy Subject Leader for Early Years, Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 we did a lot of work around adapting teaching approaches and the use of resources and planning of bespoke interventions to support children’s learning styles that were linked to dyslexia. This role involved working closely with Education Psychologists and schools SENco to develop educational plans and interventions that incorporated a blended approach to learning that embraced a range of strategies that allow the teacher, or adult involved, to simultaneously give input to the child’s verbal, visual, motor and tactile memory centres.
This multi-sensory integration is aimed to maximise the child’s ability to make connections and associations between both visual and verbal information through linking them up via the other available senses.
In addition to these teaching approaches to specific learning goals we must also be very mindful to the emotional by product of dyslexia. Anxiety and frustration are often daily companions to this learning style and it’s vital that as adults and teachers we are aware of this, and foresee the ebb and flow of these emotions that the child will be experiencing during learning, and in fact daily life.
One particular initiative I launched was a boys’ reading club that looked at making reading appealing to boys, especially those that were reluctant readers and/or found it a challenge, often due to learning difficulties.
We employed a range of techniques and approaches that made texts more accessible, offered sensory support and ensured it was fun and engaging. We strived to really try and ignite that spark for reading, that others, that perhaps didn’t see reading as a negative experience, already had.
More recently I have been working 1:1 with a child who has a cognitive assessment report that indicates many red flags for dyslexia, and we have been employing a range of multi-sensory approaches to improve phonological awareness, which in turn, can contribute to helping improve the child’s reading and writing. In addition to this I have just completed The Open University ‘Understanding Dyslexia’ qualification that adds to my insight and experience learnt supporting children with learning difficulties and challenges.
I believe having a happy, engaged child that wants to learns is half the battle. It’s my job to get to know each individual child and understand what it is that interests them, excites them and makes them tick. I need to appreciate their strengths, areas for development and attitude to learning. It is only then that I can develop and deliver lesson that truly match their learning style, are fun and help them reach their true potential.