Specialist Experience and Skills
My experience in developing meaningful and trusting relationship with children with SEN including autism: I have worked closely with children with SEN for many years. Understandably, it takes time for a child to trust someone who they have not worked with before and I am respectful of the time it takes for a student to ‘warm up’. Strategies I like to use and have found successful, include bringing some items/photos about myself and my life to share with the child. I also share my likes and dislikes and stories about myself that I think are relatable and relevant to the child I am working ... Read More
My experience in developing meaningful and trusting relationship with children with SEN including autism: I have worked closely with children with SEN for many years. Understandably, it takes time for a child to trust someone who they have not worked with before and I am respectful of the time it takes for a student to ‘warm up’. Strategies I like to use and have found successful, include bringing some items/photos about myself and my life to share with the child. I also share my likes and dislikes and stories about myself that I think are relatable and relevant to the child I am working with. During initial sessions, I like to have the session where the child feels comfortable, and the session is carried out in a relaxed and casual manner (even if it includes sitting on the floor!) I like to encourage my students to tell me their likes and dislikes and show me their favourite items too. I also write schedules up on a whiteboard at the start of a session, to ensure that the child feels in control and also so that there are no sudden surprises that can cause discomfort. When children are feeling particularly anxious or not ready for the lesson, I wait patiently until they are calm and ready. This has been a successful technique, particularly when working with children with Autism. For some children who are not comfortable with sharing their thoughts with me, I like to use a puppet or cuddly toy as I find some children are more comfortable talking to the toy and find it easier to open up. Once trust is gained between myself and the student, the puppet/toy is generally no longer necessary.
My skills and experience supporting students with Autism (including high-functioning): I have worked in the primary educational setting for nine years and within these nine years, I have trained and worked in both mainstream schools and a special school supporting children with Autism, as a teacher, interventions teacher and as a teaching assistant. Currently I am a class teacher and Year Leader in a North London junior school where I plan and teach tailored lessons and interventions for SEN-D children. I work closely with the school SENCO to create learning plans to suit the needs of the children; this involves accurate assessments, setting achievable targets and the development of a tailored curriculum. I have also worked as a tutor for many years, and in this time, I have worked with a number of children with ASD; I tailor my strategies and approaches according to each child’s individual needs and use a range of resources such as visual timetables, PECS, colourful semantics, writing frames and many other manipulatives such as Numicon, dienes etc. to support children’s learning and understanding. I also use the children’s interests to help me plan engaging and interesting activities suitable for the individual child.
My skills and experience supporting students with Maths: Being a class teacher and Year Leader, I have developed and adapted our Maths Curriculum for Year 3, over a number of years and I am constantly tweaking the lessons to suit the needs of all the children in the classes. In addition, I have Mathematics Specialism with my teaching degree and have run Maths Intervention groups for over 6 years for children who find Maths and mathematical concepts challenging. The use of manipulatives such as Numicon, Dienes Blocks, fraction walls, tens frames and place value charts is a key element of my teaching as I find it really helps children to visualise and make sense of the calculations. Revising the basic key concepts and four operations of maths is fundamental and is vital to securing a solid understanding of mathematical concepts. I have also incorporated fun role play activities when tutoring children in Maths such as playing ‘shopkeepers’ to learn how to add and subtract, familiarise with money and giving and receiving change; cooking & baking to practise the skills of measuring, reading scales and understanding the concept of fractions; plus making structures which involve estimation and calculation.
My skills and experience supporting students with English, Reading, Writing & Spelling: English, reading, writing and spelling are lessons of high importance to me. I teach literacy skills on a daily basis, in school, and I often plan my literacy units from scratch, using the Pie Corbett structure- Talk for Writing or by using The Write Stuff (Jane Considine model). The structure of one of my Literacy units include: Writing a cold task- to assess the writing needs of the student; familiarising with a model text and unpicking the specific key features used to write the piece of text; creating and drawing a story map and retelling the text to learn and hear how it should be structured; planning and writing a hot task which involves writing up the plan, using mini success criterias to guide the student. Finally, the writing is ‘published’ and written up on beautiful, bordered paper so the student has a final copy of their work. This is an important part of the unit as helping the child become proud of their writing, is an essential element of successful learning. In addition, I teach spelling/phonics through a variety of ways, often using Phonics Play to guide my planning. Using spelling apps also makes spelling more engaging and fun and encourages children to practise their spellings! Reading & Comprehension are again very important to a child’s learning and I teach this subject daily with my class. I often separate comprehension lessons and tutoring sessions into sections e.g. Session 1- read text and identity new vocabulary; session 2- sketch the text to make sense of the text, session 3- verbal and written comprehension questions, session 4- activities to practise inferencing skills. I also read to children in addition to listening to children read to me, as I believe it is highly important for children to hear how punctuation is acknowledged when reading, plus intonations and use of expression also needs to be modelled to help a student read successfully.
My skills and experience developing motivation and engagement in learning: I am an animated and energetic teacher! I motivate the children I work with, through a variety of ways, including praise, rewards and friendly competitions. I am passionate about helping children to develop a growth mindset, a can-do attitude and a love of learning. This is the core of all my lessons, including the development of resilience and perseverance. All of these things need to be consistently built into a lesson, which I believe I achieve, in every lesson that I teach.
My skills and experience boosting students’ self-esteem and confidence: My favourite classroom motto is ‘Mistakes are proof that you are trying!’ I welcome mistakes with open arms and often thank children for their ‘boo-boos!’ I believe it is highly important to show children that it is ok to make mistakes and often deliberately make them myself to show that it is something to embrace. Learning without mistakes is not really learning after all! From my past experience, I have encountered many children who are quite harsh on themselves, which in turn has affected their self-esteem and confidence. Through consistent approaches and praise, I have seen and witnessed children develop a growth mindset and assertiveness. There have been incredible moments in my teaching career, but the growth in confidence is definitely one of the most special ones.
My skills and experience teaching children with writing resistance: Often, there are children who find writing a struggle and have some resistance to picking up a pen and writing. I help to encourage the generation of ideas through exciting lessons, tailored to the children’s likes and interests and create mind maps and box up plans to help them jot down their ideas. Through drama, drawing, games and cloze activities, the children learn to write, in smaller chunks. Slowly, the children chunk together a bigger piece. With longer pieces, I allow children to type their stories and create their stories on story apps. I have found these apps really help boost the student’s love of writing and to help the children become proud of the work. For more reluctant writers, I like to ‘share’ the writing and scribe parts of the text for them to make the task seem less daunting.
My skills and experience teaching children with handwriting: Having taught reception, KS1 year groups and Year 3, handwriting has been an essential daily lesson. I use books with double lines to help children form their letters and control the size of their letters. I also like to use whiteboards and fingers to trace around letters to ensure the correct formation, in a fun and engaging way. Currently, I use the PenPals handwriting scheme to teach with. Depending on the child’s control and fine motor skills, I look for ways to support pencil-holding e.g. using pencil grips, changing the thickness of the pencils or by using different types of pencils to help the child with pencil pressure.
My skills and experience supporting students in KS1: I have worked as an interventions teacher in Reception and Year 1 supporting children with Phonics and writing. I designed, planned and taught units of lessons to help under-achieving children to catch up with their peers in these subjects. In addition, I have tutored a number of children in KS1 and Reception; lessons primarily focused on Phonics, mathematics and writing, all tailored to suit the needs and age of the child. Currently, I am a Year 3 teacher (Lower KS2) where there are a number of children who benefit from working through a KS1 curriculum, particularly children whose education has been affected by the pandemic. I plan using KS1 materials and resources and set targets from the National Curriculum for Key Stage 1. I have worked in Summer Camps too (including SENsational Summer Camps!) which incorporated the use of fun, play-based learning which creates an enjoyable, effective and memorable way for children to learn and a style I incorporate when teaching.
My skills and experience supporting students in KS2: I have worked as Year 3 teacher and Year leader for 4 years, developing the curriculum and overseeing the planning and teaching for my Year group. I have also completed school-based training in Year 5 and have tutored children aged between 4-14 years.
My skills and experience working with families and children to help them unlock and reach their potential: I have worked with many families and children over the years, both when tutoring and as a class teacher. At the end of every tutoring session, I provide feedback of the lesson, and give targets for parents and carers to work on, to ensure we are all working towards the same goal, in a consistent manner. It is also important for the family and I to understand the strategies we will jointly use and to create the sense of a ‘team’. Families know their own children so well and any information becomes invaluable knowledge for tutors as understandably, good and trusting relationships take a little time to develop.
My skills and experience helping students to develop focus and concentration: Having worked with children in specialist settings and lower KS year groups, developing attention, focus and organisational skills is something that is part of my every day practise. I encourage independence where possible and use visual cues frequently to engage learners. I also have a bank of resources that are used to develop attention skills. I tailor lessons to suit the interests of the child and I find this is a very effective way to maintain the learner’s focus and concentration.
My skills and experience teaching children with dyslexia; Dyslexia is a common learning difficulty that children have in the classroom. I have had many years of experience supporting children who benefit from a special dyslexia- friendly font, reading rulers and overlays. Children with dyslexia often find phonics difficult so I also adopt a repetitive sight-reading technique to help them memorise the whole look of words rather than just digraphs/ trigraphs which can become confusing for the child. I am familiar with the Toe by Toe program and have used it in my classroom with dyslexic children. This is a repetitive, daily program used to help children familiarise with spelling patterns. Often when reading, I use a reading ruler with the dyslexic student and add sound buttons to the words by segmenting the words into their phonemes. This encourages children to break down the word into more manageable chunks.
My skills and experience teaching executive functions including organisation, planning and time management skills to develop independence: I have taught many children who have had difficulties with organisation, planning and time management skills. Sometimes, it has been due to their age and personality, but it can be a real difficulty for some children who find organisation extremely challenging and frustrating. I have used visual timetables and ‘Now and Next’ boards to support children in knowing what to expect and to allow them time to be mentally and physically prepared for activities. When children are ready to move on, I add on an extra step ‘Now, Next and After that’ to help them to familiarise with planning and to ease the anticipation of following activities. I have also created labelled boxes to encourage children to organise themselves better, particularly with their belongings. For example, this may involve a large box only used for personal belongings, such as a coat and a bag, and it is made part of the session/lesson. The lesson begins with a reminder to the child to take off their coat and place it into the box, until they can carry this activity out independently and without reminders. I have also written a colourful checklist to help children remember what they need to do, and they tick off each activity once they have completed it. Again, this strengthens their organisational skills.
I have had experience teaching children who consistently lose their pencils and stationery- I support with their organisation by placing their items in a tray (with lips) to stop them from rolling off the side of the table; sometimes the simplest techniques are the most effective! We count the items at the start, middle and at the end of the session to make sure that they are being mindful about their belongings.
To support with time management, first, I let the child know how long a minute is, as often we expect children to understand a length of time without making sure they can estimate it first. Some of my techniques involve counting to sixty seconds, sitting in silence through a minute, seeing how many jumps we can do in a minute etc. so children can estimate the length of a minute. Slowly, we build on this estimation by saying ‘Now we will do something for half a minute’, or for 2 mins.
Occasionally, I set a timer and tell the child that a particular task needs to end when the timer ends at a certain time. I give them reminders every few minutes of how much time is left. This is all done casually and without pressure but helps the child to estimate the length of time they need for a required task.
It is important to let the child know of any plans, in advance, particularly if there are any big changes to their normal schedule. This is so that the child can prepare themselves mentally. I like to encourage children to have things ready in folders or bags etc. and to group similar items together so that they are prepared for a particular session and so that they do not waste time searching for the right materials and resources. E.g. an art box, maths box, pencil case.
I encourage independence throughout all my lessons; from spotting their mistakes to rubbing out their own work and picking up their fallen pencil. It is always important to make sure children are given the space to grow and it is all too easy for us adults to jump in and help. After modelling how to do something, I like to observe and give friendly prompts to support the child with the activity and then letting them attempt it themselves. The modelling aspect is key to showing a child how to do something which helps them to learn and try it out for themselves. Over time and consistency, children develop independence.
My experience supporting children to complete their homework: My tutoring sessions are often after school or during the weekend and parents have often asked me to help their child complete their homework. Firstly, I ask the parents and child, the method/strategy that has been taught at school so I can continue using the same method. This is important as a new strategy may confuse the student. Sometimes, this requires looking up the strategies on the school’s website e.g. at their newsletter, curriculum map or calculation policy to ensure teaching strategies are consistent.
My skills and experience teaching children with processing and memory difficulties: I have worked with a number of children with processing and memory difficulties. I support these children by encouraging them to draw mind maps and I use a technique called ‘dual coding’ which is a method designed to support the working memory. For example, when planning a piece of writing, we look at a written piece and draw the story out, act out scenes and plot the story down in its most simplest structure. Then we plan the story, first by jotting down ideas and then, through dual coding, which can be by drawing ideas out and then by verbalising them too. We do this again and again to help the child memorise through other means than just writing. Consistent retrieval activities are also in place in all my teaching sessions, as retrieval tasks not only allows me to assess their knowledge but also helps the child to retrieve the learnt knowledge from their memory and apply it. I believe it is the act of application which jolts the working memory into action to encourage better long-term memory. It is also a skill which needs to be trained. For children who find processing particularly difficult, I often use simple and short sentences to phrase questions. I often ask the student to repeat the question that I have asked to ensure that they have understood the task and are clear on what they are expected to do. If children find it hard to process information verbally, I will draw or write down the question/task and often will repeat the question in the same way- different ways of saying the same question can confuse the child further.
My skills and experience teaching social skills including friendship development and conflict resolution skills: I have been working in education settings for over nine years and have dealt with many children’s social difficulties over that time. I use a range of resources which include mindfulness tasks and social stories to support children with their understanding of how to make friends and deal with conflict. One of my favourite books is ‘My Strong Mind’ by Niels Van Hove which the children love listening to and it teaches children techniques to calm themselves down before reacting to certain negative situations. I also like to let children solve their own conflicts by allowing them to tell me what they think is the right thing to do, what they think they should do and what they actually want to do. It is important to let the child come up with their own ideas and to make their decision themselves as children need to have ownership over the reaction and decision so that they can learn how to deal with situations independently and correctly.