Specialist Experience and Skills
I have 15 years' experience as a specialist SEN teacher and have an OCR Level 5 Diploma in Teaching children with Specific learning difficulties and Dyslexia. With a strong focus on meeting the academic, social and emotional needs of my pupils while recognising and respecting their individuality, my experience includes teaching children with a range of needs including Sensory Processing Disorder,writing resistance, Dyspraxia, PDA (demand avoidance), Autism, ADHD, Behavioural difficulties, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Speech and Language difficulties, Global Developmental Delay, Health, Emotional diff... Read More
I have 15 years' experience as a specialist SEN teacher and have an OCR Level 5 Diploma in Teaching children with Specific learning difficulties and Dyslexia. With a strong focus on meeting the academic, social and emotional needs of my pupils while recognising and respecting their individuality, my experience includes teaching children with a range of needs including Sensory Processing Disorder,writing resistance, Dyspraxia, PDA (demand avoidance), Autism, ADHD, Behavioural difficulties, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Speech and Language difficulties, Global Developmental Delay, Health, Emotional difficulties.
My general specialist SEN teaching experience, teaching Early Years (reception) and KS1, KS2: I’ve had the privilege to teach and take a part in an incredible journey that children go on in those first few years in school settings. I loved teaching phonics, reading and early math through creative role-play. To a child, play is serious work and the motivation to learn is intrinsic. Teaching phonics and reading was always a rewarding part of being an Early Years teacher as I helped many children to open the doors to an amazing world of books, different worlds and all learning. I helped to run the phonics and early math workshop to support parents in understanding how their children learn. My phonics and math sessions are fun sessions involving lots of speaking, listening, investigation and games.
During my years as a primary teacher in Early Years (reception) and KS1, KS2 in private and state settings I realised that my passion was helping children with special learning difficulties. I always made sure that all my students were able to progress and maximize their potential, by incorporating a range of communication methods into teaching sessions with the flexibility to change and develop educational activities. With some of my students, I used visual timetables, prompts gestures, Makaton, written instructions to reinforce the spoken words and to aid understanding, social stories, interactive games and lots of practical hands-on activities. I supported students in accessing the curriculum through scaffolding activities, breaking down task and instructions into manageable chunks, with step-by-step symbols and picture cards to back up short, clear verbal explanation. I always took into account the interests of my students and planned lessons so that they were full of a variety of engaging activities. For instance, very often in my teaching, I used role-play which I found an extremely strong method in helping my students to develop their social and communication skills, emotional skills and often improve their self-confidence. To be able to imagine a different world through creative play is a very important feature when it comes to expanding thought patterns, developing language, sharing, and expressing themselves, as well as empathy for each other.
My experience working with children with writing challenges and reluctant writers: Since many of my MLD students struggled with writing exercise I planned a lot of activities that helped them to develop fine motor skills- muscle control in their hands and shoulders (grasp and release with tweezers, tongs, screwing/unscrewing lids, paper tearing, finger games etc). I also ensured that I included activities which particularly aid in the development of gross and core skills (such as hopscotch, target tossing in phonics, jumping, skipping to teach counting in 2s, 5s, math scavenger hunts...) All these exercises helped to improve hand/eye coordination, the strength of hand, wrist, shoulder, arm; balance, body and spatial awareness of my students.
Many students, especially boys, find writing very challenging and they become soon reluctant writers. To help my students overcome fear and ‘hate’ of writing I experiment with different strategies. I always try to choose a topic that gets a student excited and give him authentic writing experiences. I often incorporate art into writing. First, I ask the student to draw his pictures, then label them, write the sentences and then short paragraphs. The key is to break down the task of writing into achievable parts. Sometimes I give the student a camera and let him tell a story through his pictures and then have him write captions for each image.
Another strategy I use is guided writing where I do the physical activity and the student helps me to think of, organise the sentences and remind me of the rules we are working on. Many boys love comics, so drawing and writing comic strips is another way I use to promote enjoyable writing experience, especially if we turn their comics into their own books.
My specific experience working with children with Dyspraxia, handwriting and organisational challenges: Many dyspraxic children experience difficulties with handwriting, writing, planning, organisation and presentation of their work. Therefore, I focus on teaching different multisensory strategies such as 'bumpy paper', 'wet-dry-try technique, 'space kid' to help with handwriting and presentation. For students who have difficulties to organise their thoughts and express them effectively in writing I firstly introduce ' Thinking C-A-P-S' code (content, audience, purpose, style) where we investigate all aspects of writing. Secondly, I focus on the planning of writing. Students need to learn and use different types of plans for different types of writing and I try to match planning strategies to their individual learning styles. Learning to plan and to use planning strategies when writing is a crucial skill. I use two different approaches to planning- written plans which are written in note form (spidergram, skeleton essay plan) and graphic organisers which come in many forms such as pictures, shapes, mindmaps, frames, tree diagrams, webs. They are extremely effective for stronger visualisers as many children rely on visuals to help them think about what comes next and what to say when they write. Next, I introduce different writing frames as scaffolds to help students to organise their writing, build their own writing skills and reduce the fear of 'blank paper'. They can consist of starters, connectives and sentence modifiers which offer students a structure for communicating what they want to say. Lastly, I focus on drafting, review and revision, I teach C-O-P-S proofreading strategy (capital letters, omissions, punctuation, spellings) and 'writing detective' (checklist of questions for good writing).
Experience working with children with sensory processing disorder, ADHD, anxiety and difficulty with self-regulating: More recently I have been working 1:1 with a student who was diagnosed with ADHD, sensory processing disorder, anxiety and difficulty with self-regulating. He has experienced difficulties handling sensory input which affected his academic performance, his self-esteem, and his confidence. To help him to overcome his difficulties, I have employed a range of multisensory approaches such as jumping activities, brain breaks, using alternative seating, visual schedules, handheld fidgets, visuals with pictures of sensory input choices, providing a quiet workspace, redirection, sensory box, breathing techniques and lots of reassurance. All my lessons were planned around his interests which give him the incentive to engage with activities in a meaningful way and it has proved to be a real success. I also worked on helping him to improve his self-regulation skills when he needed help to control emotions, handle frustrations and resist impulsive behaviour. Consistency, predictability and follow-through were important for creating the structure of our sessions which helped him to decrease the level of his anxiety.
Experience working with children with Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and Dyscalculia: My passion for helping children with special needs haven't stopped and because I wanted to reach out to children with specific learning difficulties such as Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and Dyscalculia as well, I decided to continue with my professional development. Two years ago, I gained the OCR Level 5 Diploma in Teaching children with Specific learning difficulties and Dyslexia. In my current teaching role, I work as a Specialist Dyslexia teacher. I'm qualified to conduct informal, curriculum-based assessments and deliver specialist teaching programmes to learners with dyslexia, dyspraxia and dyscalculia.
My experience developing memory skills for children with SEN - multi-sensory teaching: I do multi-sensory teaching: small incremental steps delivered one at a time, with plenty of opportunity for repetition, so learners can proceed at their own pace and receive positive reinforcement as they learn. I teach a range of strategies to help children to learn letter-sounds and spelling rules. Many children with dyslexia are kinaesthetic learners (they learn by doing), therefore I engage them in purposeful movement, using rhythm and visual activities to stimulate memory and trigger recall. As many dyslexic students struggle with working memory, short- and long-term memory I've created many memory games and have taught student different memory techniques.
Experience working with Autistic children and PDA (Demand Avoidance): Through my career as an ASD teacher, I have had a wealth of specialist training such as TEACCH, PECS, Makaton, Widgit web tools, Clicker, behaviour therapy that helps students with visual information processing, verbal communication, social communication, attention and executive functioning. As many of the autistic students have speech delay, I have a proficiency in using strategies and interventions to develop social communication and language skills through my working alongside speech and language therapists and occupational therapists. For example, I used Lego therapy, Playdough therapy and Therapy box that helped to create opportunities for students to work towards their communication potential, helped them to discover and enjoy the benefits of communicating their needs. I was always an advocate of taking learning outside of the classroom as much as possible. Especially, my students who lacked focus and concentration, had speech difficulties, or had difficulties staying and completing the task, or had low confidence to attempt new tasks hugely benefited from the outside environment. They were happier, engaged, motivated and confident to experiment which is a fantastic way to learn. I also incorporated a lot of mindfulness exercise in my teaching that helped my students to improve their memory and attentions skills. For instance, breathing with a Pinwheel, blowing bubbles, five sense exercise, texture bags and others.Many autistic children behave in challenging ways because they have trouble understanding what’s happening around them, have difficulty communicating their wants and needs, feel overwhelmed and are highly anxious. I helped my students by teaching them new skills and behaviour strategies for handling emotions, improving communication and coping in different settings. Some students on the autism spectrum had also PDA profile and experienced high anxiety levels because they couldn’t be always in control of situations. In our setting, we followed PANDA approaches (Pick battles, Anxiety management, Negotiation and Collaboration, Disguise and manage demands and Adaption) that enabled us to understand and help our students with PDA to meet their needs.