SEN specialist teaching experience (autism (verbal and non-verbal), ADHD, auditory processing disorder, PDA, dyslexia, dyspraxia, sensory needs and Down's syndrome):
I have had extensive experience teaching students with SEN which has allowed me to learn a lot about how to best support children with autism (verbal and non-verbal), ADHD, auditory processing disorder, PDA, dyslexia, dyspraxia, sensory needs and Down's syndrome. My primary-school teaching experience has led me to focus on teaching students with ASD in Special Needs Schools and in my private tutoring roles. I have used a range of different strategies to support ASD, including TEACCH, visual aids and communication aids including PECS, and have a thorough understanding of how to teach social skills and social awareness to all students. I have also had an opportunity to tutor students with a range of emotional needs and also Looked After Children who are living with foster carers.
During my teaching experiences in SEN schools, I have taught students with high functioning autism, PDA with high levels of anxiety and sensory needs. These students benefit greatly from an individualised learning plan and timetable where they understand what is happening at each part of the day. Students will be more prepared for the day ahead and can have an agreement with the staff about what the day will look like for them. The challenges that they face on a daily basis are immersed into the school day and they will avoid every day demands that are placed on them e.g. getting up in the morning, their transport to school if disrupted, writing, behaving appropriately on the bus and with staff who are taking them to class, wanting to take toys with them on educational visits. Experience with non-verbal children:
I also have experience teaching non-verbal students and students who are select mute with high levels of anxiety. During my first Special Needs teaching experience, my class were a mixed level of ability including non-verbal students. We incorporated PECS and Makaton in the classroom, at transition periods, whilst meeting them in the morning at the taxi, during play times on the playground and escorting them to their transport in the afternoons. These students were very vulnerable but I ensured that they had the opportunity to be included in the class sessions where they could access activities at their own level. They also had the opportunity to be involved in drama/music sessions in the classroom and were part of the Harvest festival performance. Experience working with children with speech and language, and communication delay:
As well as working with Key stage 2 and Key Stage 3 students, I have a lot of experience teaching and tutoring Year 1 and Year 2 children including those students who have speech and language delays, providing them with interactive and fun activities which help them to engage with the tasks while incorporating their different learning styles. I have used a range of interactive iPad based activities that the students have enjoyed, supporting both Numeracy and Literacy e.g. telling the time and phonic based activities. Students have been given the opportunity to learn about money by taking part in role play activities. I used this very effectively with a student who had ADHD, with speech and language delays. He wasn't able to access the school setting. I used a role play activity, 'Going to the shop', acting as the shopper or the shopkeeper. This allowed him to learn and handle real money in a relaxing and enjoyable atmosphere whilst building on his social and language skills too. Using Lego as a play based activity has really helped in his communication skills and allowed him to give instructions to support what he wanted to build. Both him and students have been enthused by a variety of practical activities involving measuring using a ruler and understanding the importance of getting accurate results whilst also been able to make a sensible estimate of the lengths of different items. When students struggle with paper and pen activities, they can access learning in a range of practical and interactive activities which make the learning enjoyable. Experience working with students with autism and ADHD:
When working with students with autism and ADHD, I enjoy providing differentiated learning tasks that give students the basic skills of Literacy including reading, writing, speaking and listening. Finding a topic of interest that the student is interested in has proved to be a real success for the student, giving them an incentive to engage with the subject in a meaningful way. Students have had a great sense of achievement in their projects and are proud to show off their learning to senior members of staff. In 1:1 sessions, I used Horrid Henry books to support a student with their reading and this really helped their understanding including writing interesting reviews of each chapter which built on their writing skills. With KS2 and KS3 students, I used their interests e.g football, Doctor Who and drama also to support them to achieve successfully in their writing skills which gave them confidence in themselves. This supported them to write about what they were interested in while making good progress on a daily basis. Experience working with students with sensory needs:
In terms of sensory integration for SEN students, I have used a daily sensory circuit to support their sensory needs. This really helped the children to refine and focus their concentration in preparation for the day's learning. The alerting area supports the student to focus or gives them 'a shake up' to get going. The organising section of the routine helps them to organise their body, plan their actions and do more than one thing at a time. It gives them a sense of awareness, focussing on balancing and rolling. The calming area is where the student can end the session by getting a nice, relaxing massage using a big bouncy ball. Pressure is applied on the student using the ball while they are lying on their stomach. The pressed sensation has helped to calm and ground the students. I have worked with students that have SPD and they have been provided with chew toys to support the reaction to their trigger point. I have put together a bag of items for them to help when they are over stimulated or under stimulated. The use of ear defenders are useful for classroom and quiet environments. Using a listening programme helps students to regulate themselves and supports them to focus back on their learning tasks as does a 10-15 minute running programme which is extremely effective and helps students to transition to the next task. Experience working with students with high-functioning autism:
I also have experience tutoring high functioning ASD students and students with dyspraxia, having had success with supporting their learning and building on their strengths while tackling the areas of improvement. Students feel at ease during my sessions and I have the ability to break down the learning to help the student understand how to work out problems and what operation to use. I enjoy building up a good relationship with each student and they are comfortable in their own environment, ensuring they are equipped with the tools to overcome their barriers to learning. I currently tutor Maths to a student with dyspraxia carrying out online sessions. The sessions are broken down to support the student to understand the concepts taught. I liaise with his parent about the topics that are been covered at school and we work through the questions together. I show him different ways of doing e.g. multiplication and division word problems and use visuals to support his learning. He will choose the way that suits him best as he continues to apply his knowledge of times tables. I have good knowledge and experience working with students with dyspraxia, supporting them to organise their thoughts and ideas to allow them to carry out different writing tasks/projects in English. Students will use a range of graphic organisers to arrange what they are planning to write. This will take the form of a planning format or an outline where they will brainstorm their ideas and get all their thoughts down on paper, asking questions and researching about the topic. Once the student becomes excited and is more comfortable about the topic, then I will support them to begin the writing process where the learning comes to life and the student is taking more ownership over their learning. The brainstorming ides that they have created will be transferred into their writing and they will be given opportunities to edit their work, drafting and re-drafting their writing. Support will be given where necessary and students are proud of their writing. In English, writing and reading are very much linked together and some students will really excel in reading which will support them to use their imagination in their writing tasks, allowing them to make progress and reach their full potential.
Fun and creative, tailor-made sessions:
- Using music and drama in my sessions: I have also enjoyed using music and drama in my lessons to support SEN students. This tool has been of paramount to students who excel in this area and it is pleasing to see the rewards it brings into the school community. The previous school setting I worked as a SEN Teacher, the students were very fortunate to have Christmas plays and end of year performances including Shakespeare Productions outside of the school. As a teacher, I supported the play and prepared all of the students for performances on stage during the school day and evening performances. The whole school benefits greatly doing these yearly shows and it really was a community spirit. I enjoy doing daily workout exercises in the morning to get students moving and get them 'ready for the day ahead'. Giving students a 'break out' for when the classroom setting is too noisy and allowing them five to ten minutes is of utmost importance to support their transition to the next task.
I have used strategies to support these students and built up a trusting relationship with them so when things are difficult we have come together with a plan to support them. Humour and the things that they are interested in e.g. cooking, Art, Forest School, football, Doctor Who, drama, steel band, singing, watching acts on Britain's Got Talent have allowed them to have a better handle on the challenges they face. Teaching them to approach different situations in a different or creative way has helped them in their future learning. When students are given more ownership over their learning and when demands are not made directly at them, they feel less pressure. They are more likely to complete tasks on their terms when they are encouraged in a positive way. Discussing scenarios with these types of students and supporting them to make the right choice has helped them along in their learning journey. Assessments and feedback to parents and families:
At the end of each session, I communicate with the parents and explain how the sessions went, giving positive feedback. The students also have an opportunity to be proud of what they have achieved and understand the areas in which they need to work on. Once a rapport is built up between everyone involved, the sessions become very positive and the atmosphere is relaxing and enjoyable. It's rewarding to see students feel at ease in their learning environment and become confident in their ability. IT and computing integration:
I really enjoy embedding computing and IT (including Apps) into the curriculum. It is fascinating how this subject has evolved and developed so quickly. I enjoy exploring this topic and I find that it is an important tool in everyday life. Throughout my teaching experiences, I have always assisted with IT, supporting the IT technicians and IT Co-ordinators in schools. I enjoy showing the students new applications that will further their knowledge and move their learning on, giving them the confidence to tackle Computing whilst working on other skills e.g. Numeracy, Literacy and Science. 11 plus entrance examination experience:
I have substantial experience working with students who are preparing for the 11+ exams. I fully understand how important these exams are and I do consider the health of the student too. As each student is unique in their own way, some students will find academic subjects easier than others do. My experience of educating children both in the classroom and in a home setting has supported me to help students build up their confidence. In preparing for 11+, I understand the areas that the students need to cover and have tailored my lessons to suit the needs of the student. I carried out sessions by teaching the skills and used a range of different activities which suited the learning styles of each student.
As the 11+ is not covered in schools, I tutored a range of students in both English and Maths. During the sessions, I would focus on each subject individually. Depending on the needs and areas of development for the student, I would focus on each aspect and work on building up the students' interest and motivation, incorporating exercises and games to enhance core skills throughout the sessions e.g. crosswords, word searches, scrabble and other puzzles that involve word use. Reading poems, selected magazines and stories helped to build up the students' vocabulary and interest in topics. I have worked through Bond Assessment Papers with students and also worked closely with the school's examination papers to establish the different questions students would need to carry out.