Inclusion – Support for a professional discussion

I have just read and reblogged a reply to Tom Sherringhams post about inclusion and exclusion in relation to the learning of others by the small group who inevitably thwart our behaviour systems and sanctions. http://headguruteacher.com/2015/01/04/inclusion-and-exclusion-in-a-community-school/

Since doing this I have re. read some of it and began focussing on the SEND part of the article. The partially sighted boy is a great example to use (see below for an extract) for many to understand the entitlement of these students. However, there are many others out there on the autistic spectrum etc. that are just not being recognised.  Some of this is because the class teacher knows that something is wrong/different but cannot put their finger on it, hence the book A practical guide to supporting EAL and SEN pupils. It is for these very practitioners so that they can then talk to the SEN department/ Headteacher/consultant with more evidence for a truly professional discussion.

Included in the book are tick boxes for class teachers to work out if they support the child in their classroom including asking, in relation to language development, whether the teacher speaks at a pace the child can follow, reinforces key messages and asks a range of open and closed questions.

Following on from that, is a comprehensive tick list that incorporates general learning difficulties which include all the following; Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dyspraxia, Dysgraphia, Speech,language and communication needs, Autism, Social, emotional and mental health difficulties (SEMH), and Sensory impairment – Hearing and vision. By ticking the child’s traits it is easier to start working out where the child has a building block missing. In turn this allows the professional to have a more defined conversation rather than a vague ‘This child is not learning but distracting others. I am following our behaviour policy. What can I do?’

To support this there are further ideas throughout the book including looking at the classroom environment, provision mapping and ways to record evidence for those professional discussions. If you are interested in receiving a PDF copy or paperback @15.00 you can get more information by following the link above or email lsbooksinfo@gmail.com.

Recently in school I met a very happy young man who was wheelchair bound, and had a voice recorder to express his very good sense of humour. It was quickly made clear by him that he was very able academically, and I could see that the school had in process some great practices which ensure that he can access the curriculum. He was being taught in main stream classrooms by qualified teachers and the support assistant as part of their remit ensured that tables were heightened to allow wheelchair access etc. (see the emboldening of the sections below).  Tom (Sherringham) is correct – learning what entitlement really means can be scary to start with, and mistakes will be made, but if we always start with the premise of Every child matters then entitlement/equality/diversity etc, etc are all covered as we make sure every child has the tools needed to thrive in school.

Tom writes …. I learned a lot about the principles of SEND inclusion from a boy at KEGS who was partially sighted. His parents had had to fight hard to get him into the school and then championed his needs with passion and determination thereafter. Everything we did wrong was ‘appalling’ in their eyes and that hurt.  We made lots of mistakes and learned a lot but ultimately he did extremely well at GCSE and A level.  Our main learning was to understand the concept of entitlement: we were not doing him a favour when we made special provision for him, we were just giving him what he was entitled to; we learned not to seek gratitude for doing routine tasks; we learned that his teachers needed to teach him directly, not through his Learning Support Assistants; we learned that helping him to access most work wasn’t good enough – it had to be everything, all of the time because anything less was unacceptable.  The key here was getting the resources in place and working with the student and the family, really listening to what they said without being defensive – even though that was hard at times. We got there in the end but he suffered – there’s no doubt about that.

As we start the new year I am sure that we will all strive to do our best, so I may just return to this towards the end of term when we are all tired and sometimes the basics can get lost in politics and all the other things that happen daily.

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SEND Code of Practice – update

The new SEND Code of Practice reminds us

The bodies listed in paragraph iv. (see list below)  must have regard to the Code of Practice. This
means that whenever they are taking decisions they must give consideration to what
the Code says. They cannot ignore it. They must fulfil their statutory duties towards
children and young people with SEN or disabilities in the light of the guidance set out
in it. They must be able to demonstrate in their arrangements for children and young
people with SEN or disabilities that they are fulfilling their statutory duty to have
regard to the Code.

and that ‘Identifying and assessing SEN for children and young people whose first language is not English requires particular care’.

Something that I am particularly pleased to see addressed too often schools have stood behind ‘I only have one or two of those,’ whatever those are. I assume they are talking about those in the vulnerable category, and in my view rather than treating them with extra special care and interest they use it as a reason not to develop the child,  but subconsciously hope if they withdraw it/them in small groups then they disappear from the periphery.

All children are ‘entitled to a full and appropriate curriculum, whilst being challenged to move to the next level as soon as they are ready to do so.’

This does mean that teachers will find classes more challenging and that skills they had previously, no longer work in this new environment.

A practical guide to supporting EAL and SEN learners

As school managers and leaders we must be open to this and ensure staff are trained and/or supported whilst developing the child.  Added to this the new classification (under the new code of practice) from BESD to SEMH that stands for Social, Emotional and Mental health difficulties teachers need to be more aware.

Mental Health difficulties in a child and young person manifest differently … as it does in adults. Some become quiet, withdrawn others are loud and can be verbally adept, but once asked to put pen to paper there is a difference between their abilities. The wider it is the more the alarm bells should be ringing. If you are interested a good start can be found at http://www.youngminds.org.uk/  I will write more about mental health in future posts.

To buy A practical guide to supporting EAL and SEN visit the website here

SEND Code of Practice –  Who must have regard to this guidance?
iv. This Code of Practice is statutory guidance for the following organisations:
• local authorities (education, social care and relevant housing and employment
and other services)
• the governing bodies of schools, including non-maintained special schools
• the governing bodies of further education colleges and sixth form colleges
• the proprietors of academies (including free schools, University Technical
Colleges and Studio Schools)
• the management committees of pupil referral units
• independent schools and independent specialist providers approved under
section 41 of the Children and Families Act 2014
• all early years providers in the maintained, private, voluntary and independent
sectors that are funded by the local authority
• the National Health Service Commissioning Board
• clinical commissioning groups (CCGs)
• NHS Trusts
• NHS Foundation Trusts
• Local Health Boards
• Youth Offending Teams and relevant youth custodial establishments
• The First-tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability) (see v.)

10 things that effective teachers do- Do you?

Sometimes it is just worth reflecting on our personal skills and looking at where our strengths and weaknesses are. After many years of teaching some skills will have been more developed, whilst others that are used less widely may need more work on.

For me I start with this list that I picked up somewhere from the internet when I started in Management many moons ago. NB. Way down the list is questioning, if you need more help with this see the last blog. For me this list was a starting point not only for me, but for the team or teams I was leading. Not only did I as a manager needs these skills, but also the team needed the same strengths, and being able to review and see our weaknesses objectively made it easier. For example,  when observing lessons  it gave us all a focus that we were all comfortable with. We all recognised we were good teachers but wanted to do better, so were honing skills. This meant the threat and fear went away, this was crucial in schools needing support as too often one criticism or constructive comment can lead to low self-esteem and the fear of being a  failing teacher rather than building more strengths.

10 things that effective teachers do.

Deep Knowledge of Subject Matter
Effective teachers have a passion for their subject. They work hard to keep their knowledge current and sharp.

Instructional Planning
Good teachers do not “wing it.” They prepare lessons carefully and thoroughly to ensure all students meet their targets.

Knowledge of Assessment and Evaluation
Effective teachers plan the ways in which they will judge students’ progress and they do so throughout the lesson, adjusting their teaching in the light of what they learn from the assessments.

Understanding Students and How They Learn
Effective teachers believe that every child can learn. They work hard to identify ways of overcoming any barriers to learning so that all students are successful.

Motivating Students to Learn
Effective teachers create learning opportunities through hands-on work, small group activities, peer-to-peer coaching, and individually guided instruction. Good teachers make learning engaging by making lessons interesting and relevant.

Creating Safe, Productive and Well-Managed Classrooms
Effective teachers understand that firm discipline policies contribute to a healthy academic atmosphere by emphasizing the importance of regular attendance, promptness, respect for teachers and other students, and good conduct. Good teachers understand that students respond to consistency, fairness, and structure.

Technological Literacy
Good teachers understand that technology is a tool for increasing student interest, motivation, and achievement.

Understanding and Appreciating Diversity
Effective teachers clearly communicate their expectation that all children can and will achieve to the best of their ability. Good teachers demonstrate zero tolerance for discrimination, bigotry, bullying, or harassment. They promote tolerance, curiosity, and respect for other genders, races, and cultures.

Working with the whole child
Effective teachers make efforts to know their students individually and to build openness and bridges between homes and classrooms. Good teachers create multiple channels for communications with parents and the community members. They try to see the “whole child” and provide extra help, referrals, and assistance for children facing challenges out-of-school.

Commitment to Lifelong Learning and Professional Development
Effective teachers are always growing and learning. They share successes and challenges with other teachers and see themselves not as an “expert” but part of a community of lifelong learners.

Encouraging student talk

Effective teachers plan opportunities for students to embed their learning through talk, to one another and to the teacher. In their classrooms, students talk more than the teacher!

Effective questions

Effective teacher organise their lessons so that students, rather than the teacher, generate questions that help to clarify and extend learning

EAL or SEN? You decide

At last Rona and I have completed our handy practical guide to help and support you as teachers through the … are they just EAL or SEN or both? minefield.

Bang up to date with the curriculum and SEN changes for the 2014/15 academic year which sees the age range higher and the introduction of a new acronym SEMH which we will all have to be familiar with not just the SENCO or EAL TA.

 

 

A practical guide to supporting EAL and SEN learners

A practical guide to supporting EAL and SEN learners

Structured around current legislation it gives practical support to support you in your decision making as to whether they are naughty children just trying it on or have a need that is currently not supported.

Great for new teachers or experienced alike.

Contents page EAL SEN

Contents page EAL SEN

 

For a full copy of the SEND code go to –

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/342440/SEND_Code_of_Practice_approved_by_Parliament_29.07.14.pdf

For a copy of the e book priced at £15.00 (not including p and p) contact lsbooksinfo@gmail.com. Printed copies available soon.

back cover

 

Kinaesthetic learners

Now term has really started I thought we would look at our more practical – touch, feel, do learners. They have a rather long name and are called Kinaesthetic learners.  I think I must be predominantly this type as anything practical attracts me first. Probably why my subject is Design technology, resistant materials, graphic, control technology and textiles as they are all things that you do!.

For Kinaesthetic learners generally they enjoy learning that involves physical experience – touching, feeling, holding, doing, practical hands-on experiences.

The base of the word comes from the Greek  kineo, meaning move, and aisthesis, meaning sensation Hence the name Kinaesthetic describes the sense of using muscular movement so for us teachers that means we need to look at teaching/learning experiences that include within the term some work that involves the stimulation of nerves in the body’s muscles, joints and tendons.  For Design Technology, PE, Music it is commonplace to find this type of activity, but how do you ensure those with this type of learning experience it at least a  few times per term in Maths for example? This is the conundrum for all of these styles how do you ensure you reach your learners and support them with their style of learning. For me having a  check list per activity when planning means that over each half term I have a general idea of which style I have used mostly in order that I can change the balance over the next term or if revising a fact/ module of work find another way of demonstrating it i.e.. if It was mainly visual learning first time then revise with the visual reminder but back up with a  practical (kinaesthetic) activity.

If you are unsure which type you are then you can find out using the link below.

or try the free test on – http://www.businessballs.com/vaklearningstylestest.htm

Auditory Learners – What they are and how to teach them

Auditory (hearing) learners tend to show many of the following characteristics;

  • Likes to read to self out loud.
  • Is not afraid to speak in class.
  • Likes oral reports.
  • Is good at explaining.
  • Remembers names.
  • Notices sound effects in movies.
  • Enjoys music especially when relaxing
  • Is good at grammar and foreign language.
  • Reads slowly.

They also use words in sentences similar to ‘ that sounds right’ or ‘I hear what you are saying’

 

To keep an auditory learner engaged then the following are ideas to support the list above.

  • Hear a presentation or explanation
  • Encourage them to explain to another pupil (don’t forget some types of  assessment fit into this category)
  • allow them to read aloud to themselves or create a chant
  • make a video of key points to listen to
  • allow them to verbally summarise in their own words
  • allow them to practice e.g. spellings before trying to write it.
  • be aware that they may be using their own internal voice to verbalise what they are learning
  • Allow them to use a speech recognition tool

 

But be careful how you talk to them because … 

…Auditory learners have a knack for ascertaining the true meaning of someone’s words by listening to audible signals like changes in tone.

 

 

Accelerated Learning – What is it?

I thought that in this blog I would revisit some theory reminding us what accelerated learning is.

What do we mean by accelerated learning?

The Accelerated Learning is based on research about the human brain. We now know that everyone has their own preferred learning style — a way of learning that suits us best. To get the best out of accelerated learning you need to know what your preference is because that way  and your learners learn more naturally.

Because it is more natural for you, it becomes easier.

then in turn because it is easier, it is quicker.
Hence the name – Accelerated Learning.

What do we mean by preferred learning style?

The three primary learning styles are sight, touch and sound although taste and smell also play a part. Different activities stimulate these senses but an activity which stimulates all three is when the researchers say that powerful learning takes place.

Sometimes we use different words to mean the same thing… see below

  • sight we often call visual learners
  • touch we often call kinaesthetic learners
  • sound we often called auditory learners
  • taste we call gustatory learners and
  • smell we call olfactory learners

As a teacher when creating activities it is useful to create your own tick sheet just to check that over a week/ month/ half or whole term that various activities have stimulated these senses.

In the next blog I will talk about how best to recognise those who are more auditory learners.

 

Student Participation

Encouraging the best from our young people in classroom situations can be daunting for new teachers, but the example below shows the benefit of well planned whole class teaching on full participation of the students.

In years gone by the stereotype for the classroom are groups of children with their hands up. This was usually the result of the teacher making a  statement e.g. We have been looking at structures and then asking for a response i.e. Put up your hands if you can think of any shell structures.

Despite the stereotypical media classrooms view that everyone ahs their hand up in reality;

  • Only a few will volunteer the information by putting their hands up
  • The teacher usually thanks or praises them
  • To check the rest of the class another few people will be asked and praised re. their contribution
  • This leaves a whole band of students who have said nothing and may know the answer but have not received praise.

Now we will look at a different way of answering the same question but achieving a result that means every students has had a voice. As currently snow and ice is the topic of weather conversation due to the Winter Olympics I suggest we call this idea snowballing.

The question is asked again but this time instead of hands up do the following;

  • Ask each class member to use a whiteboard or post it note to write down one idea
  • In pairs students share their ideas and come up with a  third idea ( 2 minutes is maximum time needed)
  • Join with another pair (creating  group of four) or collaborate as a table, exchange the examples and then think of a few more
  • Finally ask each group to feedback – or alternatively ask each member of the class to report back one idea from their group

This should make each child feel that they have participated and been heard and most if not all should receive praise.

There are many influences to the approach any teacher will use depending on a variety of circumstances and the topic, curriculum concept that has to be taught. Here are some examples;

  1. The motivation and behaviour of the students
  2. The complexity of the knowledge needed to be learnt
  3. The ethos developed by the teacher for that classroom i.e. is it more inquiry and thinking led or passive hands up?
  4. Cultural differences
  5. Class size
  6. Academic  and general language skills

 

 

Is the new OFSTED criteria and lesson observations creating even more mental health problems in schools?

The news story below hit a chord with me not only on a personal teacher level, but also as a consultant having worked in schools where not only one person lesson was judged inadequate, but the whole school. When schools are judged to be inadequate this same reaction holds true for the teacher in questions, the teachers as a whole, the auxiliary staff, the parents and the community.

The demotivating effect was instantaneous. I was so upset that I couldn’t go back into the classroom that afternoon. Instead, I went home and proceeded to do absolutely zero planning for the next day. For the rest of the week, my teaching was somewhat lacklustre because I was so wrung out by the distress of the observation. I felt ashamed of myself and unworthy of the responsibility of teaching a class of children. I started to feel overwhelmed by the possibility that I might be letting my students down. By the weekend, I was experiencing symptoms of anxiety.

http://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/teacher-blog/2014/feb/15/secret-teacher-outstanding-inadequate-lesson-observations?CMP=new_54

This teacher was lucky as was I when a very similar incident happened to me. Thankfully a headteacher who knows the staff and school can make much better judgements.

At the time of my incident not only was I marked down by the lesson observer but was told to take a leaf out of one of my colleagues books. I was in disbelief, did he really mean the same colleague who before this planned pre-OFSTED observation had not planned but got myself and the head of department to do it for him, had the worst results of all of us and had the least respect of the students?

As you can imagine I did the same withdrew and wondered what to do, after a four page A4 handwritten letter to the headteacher and a subsequent interview I began to feel better, but all the time could not believe the system had let me and the school down so badly.

I keep reminding myself that, at the end of the day, I’m only in my second year of teaching. I will make mistakes in the classroom, miss things I should have picked up on and pitch the odd activity wrongly. But as long as my students are learning what they need to (and they are), my classroom is safe (and it is), and I am providing appropriate interventions for those children whose progress is less than ideal (which I am), then I know that I am doing my job – and doing it very well. Secret Teacher, Guardian

In my case I kept going for the students as for me that was why I was there, I believed in them and though sometimes I did things that were different (being the first female in the school teaching DT Resistant materials I had to sometimes), it was always about getting the best from my youngsters.

At the end of the year I was vindicated as my classes results were the best in the LA. To this day I have had no apology like the data protection act – everyone stood behind – it was what he saw in that 30 minute lesson! My classes results were also a shock in the wider area as we had many selective schools within our group, this gave me back my confidence.

Hence when this happened again a second time,  as before I had been observed by an external assessor as excellent then the next lesson observation made (by a consultant)  was equally as negative as the first about all aspects of the lesson, I could have been left thinking I was useless. What was equally interesting was the same lesson was observed weeks later by another teacher who didn’t change anything and they received a 1.  I realised the one thing that both the teachers who did really well had, that I didn’t, (and still don’t) is the gift of the gab. It was therefore at this point that I decided it was not worth worrying about as I knew my classes results were always the best, or in the top and that was my job.

Later on my confidence and experiences meant that I looked past lesson observation and looked for other things like genuine planning, understanding of curriculum areas, the rapport of the children and the work achieved to date, as well as observing over a period of time what is really happening in classrooms. In my consultants role to schools in Special Measures, serious weaknesses or needing improvement, I was always sad when the LA did not support the head, but used them as a scapegoat by sacking them. In my view this created even more confusion for everyone involved, it lowered the self-esteem of the whole building and anyone associated with it. It was like a fog over the whole area of the town.

Maybe this story will make people realise that one just one observation  can crush the very people we want to inspire and be role models to our learners, our parents and our communities. Using just one lesson observation as a yardstick for everything else is very dangerous. Having targets and expectations are great, but remember when writing or delivering any policy at the end of it there is a child or teacher doing their utmost.

As I go around schools now delivering EAL support I am very concerned that the new guidelines by OFSTED  (September  update) means that most schools will naturally fall by one grade due to the criteria. Where will it leave them?

These schools are doing the same as they always did, but suddenly they will find as it unravels that they are not at the top or are very close to needing some intervention. The only reason being because the criteria has changed, surely this isn’t a good enough reason to put more lives at risk of feeling inadequate, and all those mental health problem that then start feed into this system i.e. people with stress related illnesses, children self harming etc.

Only last week I was out with a group of people (supporting the national issue Time to change, Time to Talk). I began talking to one person who was at the time on their way to an appointment to their child’s school, they had been told their child will be excluded because they do not do failure. I was really surprised and ask for more detail but was then  horrified that  the school knew the child was self harming but their 99% pass rate was more important than the child just in case they had an OFSTED visit. Surely this is all the wrong way around, we have a duty to our children so lets start doing it.

What do you think?

Connectives

Here is a set of words that can be used to create cards and power points, to teach sentence structure. These words are all connectives useful in joining and extending sentences together, making normal sentences into more complex sentences.

finally

firstly

furthermore

in the end

In the meantime

initially

at first

because

before

but

consequently

due to

after a while

after that

also

although

as

as a result

then

until

when

whenever

later on

meanwhile

next

since

so

suddenly