Specialist Experience and Skills
My specialist experience teaching students with autism: I have worked as a 1:1 tutor for children and teenagers on the autistic spectrum for many years. As well as teaching in schools, I worked in students’ homes with their parents on whatever the children needed most, whether it was academic help, help focussing on daily tasks like getting dressed or going to bed, with transitions or with their self-confidence. Every student with ASD is unique and it is essential to get to know each child’s preferences and needs. I use simple, concrete language when interacting with my students who have a... Read More
My specialist experience teaching students with autism: I have worked as a 1:1 tutor for children and teenagers on the autistic spectrum for many years. As well as teaching in schools, I worked in students’ homes with their parents on whatever the children needed most, whether it was academic help, help focussing on daily tasks like getting dressed or going to bed, with transitions or with their self-confidence. Every student with ASD is unique and it is essential to get to know each child’s preferences and needs. I use simple, concrete language when interacting with my students who have autism. I am very patient and calm, and I pay keen attention to their sensory preferences and to things that have the potential to cause them distress. I believe structure and routine; especially visual timetables are key to a calm and happy classroom. It limits anxiety by letting each student know what is planned for them for the day and when transitions will happen. It’s also a contract or agreement between teacher and child. It gives the child certain autonomy and independence as well, as I am always open to discussions or suggestions for what should be on a visual timetable. Each person has their own way of communicating and setting up a means of communication is central to building a relationship with my students who have autism. I use verbal cues but also certain songs, objects of reference, visual cues, personalised timetables, personalised social stories, timers etc.
My specialist skills and experience teaching social interaction skills and friendship skills: It is important that children look forward to working with me and can trust me. Over time, as I build up a rapport with a student and learn about their interests, I find that a model for friendship can form. They can acquire skills that they can then bring into their world outside of tutoring. Learning through play is central to how I teach. Whatever subject we need to focus on, I will find a way to make it interactive, easy-going, light-hearted and fun so that friendship skills, social skills and positive behavioural patterns can be developed. In the past, when tutoring for example, I have played card games and imaginative play with a student and their sibling, practising losing graciously and playing fairly. I set up a board-game club in my school where my students could invite others to come into class and join in a game in the afternoons. This established friendships between children from different classes which then extended into the playground. Role-play is also a great tool to practice how we might react to and approach certain situations in life e.g.: breaking the ice with someone we want to be friends with. Personalised Social Stories are a great tool for children with ASD. Establishing routines and learning the language to greet other people in a positive way, is also something I have experience in, as well as how to give others space and play appropriately. While some children like their space and time alone, I always made space for socialising in class, especially when it came to mealtimes, celebrating birthdays and other events.
My specialist experience teaching students with ADD/ ADHD: I establish a proper learning environment and encourage cooperative, collaborative learning at set times of the day. I avoid distracting stimuli and make sure there is a suitable lead into transitions so that my students are never unprepared for the next task or stage in the day. I give instructions clearly and concisely, maintaining eye contact when giving instructions and make sure that they have taken in and understood what I have said. When giving assignments, I only give out one task at a time and break longer work into smaller tasks. I often use a visual or written schedule, so the student knows where they are throughout the day. I believe movement breaks can be really useful and a way to expel excess energy after a focussed period of working on a task. When it comes to behaviour management, I avoid criticism and ridicule and praise any and all cooperative behaviour immediately. I encourage positive self-talk by reminding and then asking students how they feel about their achievements. This boosts self- esteem and the 1:1 conversation is also a good way to improve social skills.
My specialist experience supporting students with anxiety: Most of my students have had high levels of anxiety and I have found that a low arousal approach, patient understanding and activities that help them feel calm, is the best way to support them. In my classroom, a relaxing enclosed area where students could take some time out was very effective. I scheduled a seated quiet time, playing meditative, calm music each day after lunch for about 10 minutes so students could feel relaxed and grounded when they transitioned back in from the yard. Many liked to have a blanket, or a weighted blanket wrapped around them for this. Children who couldn’t participate in this preferred to go on a movement break to do some jobs around the school, ticking off a list. Other students, who may have communication difficulties, found painting a great way to express their anxiety and feel better, or breathing exercises. Others found that gardening outside was a great way to feel grounded and relieve anxious feelings. We had a sensory room in the school with lights, calming music and different textures that many anxious students responded well to. Various classes that helped the students connect with their physical body, like yoga and even boxing, were extremely effective at relieving anxiety. Like everything, it’s a multi- faceted approach that works best, and I aim to help students develop a better understanding of themselves, think about why those worries occur and how best to manage them.
My specialist experience supporting students to boost their confidence and self-esteem: I am a huge fan of positive reinforcement and celebrating each student’s achievements and contributions. My teaching style is very informal and creative, and I give students space to share their opinions and preferences with me. I am always open to suggestions from them and discussing interests with them. Their opinions are valid and important and need to be heard. 1:1 tutoring offers the perfect opportunity for this and improves self-esteem. Independence, achieving goals and reaching targets, as well as social connection with peers are all ways to improve confidence and self-esteem and all things, I am experienced in working on with my students.
My specialist experience helping students to engage in learning: I like to plan lessons around the learning style and a theme or subject matter that will interest the student. My lessons are paced well and involve a range of activities so that the student feels engaged and motivated. I am a voice of encouragement and keep a student on track with the promise of breaks, rewards and variety as part of their learning, as well as focussed work.
My skills and experience supporting students to develop their independence.: Independence is crucial for building self- esteem and confidence and vice versa. Students need to feel heard and I foster an atmosphere where they feel comfortable to express their preferences. Another way to build independence is having faith in students and agreeing on something they can be responsible for, e.g.: putting away their things after a lesson, completing a piece of homework or doing a specific job around the house each week. Secondly, supporting, talking through or visualising how they can manage their new responsibility well and lastly, lots of praise when they successfully manage that responsibility. I have used Pathways to Independence checklists in the past for my students with Special needs. These checklists bring together the competency skills necessary to lead an independent life in the community, from basic skills of eating and dressing to using everyday amenities.