Specialist Experience and Skills
General Special Educational Needs experience: With 19 years experience, I have taught many children between the ages of 3-17 in mainstream, specialist settings, independent schools and private tuition. As a former assistant head for teaching and learning and lead practitioner, I coached and mentored teachers to improve their teaching practice throughout the EYFS, key stage one and key stage two. As an SEN teacher, I have enjoyed working with children with diverse needs including; speech and communication needs, ASD at all levels (autism spectrum disorder), ADHD (attention deficit hyperacti... Read More
General Special Educational Needs experience: With 19 years experience, I have taught many children between the ages of 3-17 in mainstream, specialist settings, independent schools and private tuition. As a former assistant head for teaching and learning and lead practitioner, I coached and mentored teachers to improve their teaching practice throughout the EYFS, key stage one and key stage two. As an SEN teacher, I have enjoyed working with children with diverse needs including; speech and communication needs, ASD at all levels (autism spectrum disorder), ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), PDA (pathological demand avoidance) SEMH (social, emotional and mental health) ERSA (emotional related school avoidance), anxiety, selective mutism, and medical needs. I am able to deliver bespoke, fun learning sessions, active learning in the wider community and topic-based learning that incorporate the pupil's interests.
Speech, Language and Communication Needs (including non-verbal and limited speech): I have taught many children with speech, language and communication needs in mainstream, private tuition and specialist settings. I have also taught a number of non-verbal students and those with very limited speech. The use of visual aids (PECS, Colourful Semantics, Communicate in Print and Teacch) are useful communication aids which greatly support children who struggle in this area. I also use concrete materials, where possible, to help engage learners. I have worked closely with both occupational and speech therapists both as a SENCO and class teacher. The strategies I use to support children with a language and communication need, resemble those used by therapists in this field. I am very clear with spoken language ensuring that I do not use idioms or phrases with double meanings as they are very confusing for children. I speak slowly and clearly, repeating where necessary. As always, I build up a positive, friendly rapport and aim to deliver fun, engaging sessions with brain/movement breaks throughout.
Social interaction skills/Social Thinking: The development of social skills/social thinking is fundamental for all learners. They improve the ability to establish relationships, teach essential life skills, develop self-regulation, become self-aware, increase confidence in social situations and aid in understanding and using non-verbal gestures to communicate thoughts and feelings. I have supported children both in school and through private tuition to develop in this area. Through games, art based activities and talk-time, I have enabled children to become more confident in initiating conversations, actively listen and respond, read social cues such as gestures facial expressions and body language as well as develop empathy. During my years as a nurture teacher, I was able to help children to develop social communication skills through playing turn taking games, charades, emotion games, active listening games, topic games, ball games, Simon says, decision making games, social stories and scenarios. As a private tutor, I have supported children through art based talk therapy. This has helped children to become more confident when having conversations with other people and has aided in developing the ability to read non-verbal communications such as eye-contact and the use of facial expressions.
SEBD/SEMH/Behaviour: As a nurture teacher and social inclusion lead, I had the pleasure of working with many primary aged children with social, emotional, behavioural and mental health needs. This work enabled me to work closely with the children and their families. I was able to create a home away from home in the classroom. I supported children with sharing, taking turns, developing kindness and empathy, use manners, manage their behaviour and make friends. In mainstream settings, I have developed whole school behaviour policies and successfully led behaviour.
Autism, including high-functioning: I have worked with many primary and secondary aged children with ASD. I begin by forming positive relationships with both child and parent to enable trust. I take the time to find out as much as possible about the child especially their likes and dislikes. I then incorporate interests into topic-based learning. I use short, clear sentences allowing for processing and response. As abstract concepts can be very difficult for ASD children, I have found that the use of concrete materials and use concrete/literal language is greatly beneficial. Presenting tasks visually, verbally and physically is also extremely useful for these learners. Visual timetables with a now-next frame can help to alleviate stress and anxiety. I break down learning into short chunks to allow for full focus and concentration. I also like to reward learners with a free choice activity after each task. This also allows for a brain break and helps to boost self-esteem. For non-verbal pupils, the use of PECS can aid with language and communication. Understanding that all children are different, I carefully differentiate and tailor activities to suit the learner. At times, children may struggle with managing their behaviour. In this instance, I aid with self-calming techniques, give positive reinforcement, support with the zones of regulation, communicate clearly and allow the child time in their safe place. I am consistent in my approach and stick to routines which works well with many children with ASD.
Teaching in the community: I have supported SEN children with learning in the wider community via forest schools, residential trips, going on local walks, taking their dog for a walk, developing photography skills in their local environment, visiting shops, museums, visiting prospective new schools, accompanying them with trips to the dentist, soft play centres, youth centres, eating out and teaching them to understand how to use public transport.
Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA): I am beginning to support more and more children with a PDA profile. As children with this profile are extremely anxious, I aim to alleviate some of their worries by forming a trusting relationship, adopting a low-demand approach and using humour. We complete activities based around their interests before moving on to more academic learning. I ensure that I keep pupils well informed about things that are going to happen as well as any changes. I quickly notice when children are becoming anxious and ease of any demands allowing the child to regulate and show or tell me that they are ready to continue. I use indirect language posing questions, and allow time for the child to process and decide. I have found that using social stories, giving choices and being flexible with a great sense of humour greatly benefits a child with PDA. In my experience, the use of arts and crafts, role play/drama, sports activities, talking and playing games often helps a child with PDA to build trust and establish relationships before academic learning takes place.
ADHD: I have taught children with ADHD both on a 1:1 basis and within mainstream and specialist provisions. I have learnt that positive relationships must be made early on to establish trust. It is also important to allow children with ADHD time to explore topics of their own interest. This can be enabled through topic-based learning or giving short breaks within sessions to focus on chosen areas of interest. I am clear and concise and use simple, direct language.
Confidence and self-esteem: Unfortunately, many children with SEN lack in confidence and self-esteem. I aim to boost children in this area by setting SMART targets, approaching with positivism, humour and a 'can-do' attitude. I help children to see their achievements through meaningful praise, positive reinforcement, encouragement and support thus developing their growth mindset. As always, I build a positive, trusting relationship and deliver creative, fun activities to engage learners.
Memory and Processing: I support children in this area through playing repetitive games, questioning, reinforcing and consolidating. I give short, clear instructions repeating as necessary. As children are kineasthetic learners, I ensure that sessions are delivered using different learning styles. I enjoy teaching through, song, rhyme, games and humour. I also give frequent movement breaks to help learners re-focus.
Gross and Fine Motor Skills: As a trained early years specialist, I have supported children with improving these skills for many years. Fun activities such as play-dough, puzzles, sand play, cutting with scissors, folding, pinching, gripping, using tweezers and completing art based activities such as drawing, colouring and painting are excellent in developing fine motor control. For those children who do not enjoy messy play or may be tactile defensive, I use stress balls, stretchy materials and gentle exercises. I have supported children to develop gross motor skills through exercises, stretches, games, getting dressed, putting on shoes, coats etc, using zips cutting up food and eating.
English: As English lead, I enjoyed creating a creative curriculum for the whole school and have extensive experience in teaching phonics, reading and creative writing. I have ran interventions particularly in reception, year 1, year 2 and year 6, successfully preparing children for the year 1 phonics screen, KS1 and KS2 SAT's. Over the years I have supported many reluctant writers. Children often find it difficult to formulate ideas, write creatively, know where to start or find writing boring.. I support children through allowing them to choose their own topics, verbal discussions, share good examples, provide scaffolds (key word lists, fronted adverbials, sentence starters etc), allow children to communicate via art, comic strips, PowerPoints and touch type. Above all, I aim to make writing sessions fun, engaging and enjoyable.