Autism practical support

SSAT – Autism   Not sure if this is useful.

I liked it because there are some practical aspects for it rather than just rhetoric.

https://www.ssatuk.co.uk/programme-to-support-students-with-autism/

Ginny d’Orico, AHT (autism), and Natalie Henry, head of middle school, at times vociferously aided by nine ASD students, gave this presentation on supporting students with autism.

The presenters came from Oak Lodge, a mixed 11-19 special school and specialist cognition and learning college in Barnet. Some of the tips they revealed could be useful to teachers in mainstream in helping their ASD students.

Autism is a condition that makes it difficult for the individual to predict other people’s actions, explained Ginny d’Orico. For example, when talking to someone, people with autism tend to look at the mouth, not the eyes, so missing many cues relating to social information.

“These differences are important for us as teachers: if I’m gesturing to a chair, for example, it’s not obvious to them what I want them to do. A corollary of this is that it is difficult for them to recognise that we are a reliable source of support. This is why group work with ASD students can be difficult.”

Tackling anxiety among students with ASD

She pointed to research in neurology, such as that by Yale University and others, which has shown that it is this difficulty in information processing that leads to raised anxiety, which affects social communication and emotional regulation. So one key element in working with these young people is clear scaffolding in their environment.

The SCERTS programme (Social communication/ emotional regulation/ transactional support) provides the structure for Oak Lodge’s work to enhance engagement and learning among these students.

The teacher gently instructed the group: “hands on knees. Close your eyes. Deep breaths. Imaging sitting on a beach, listening to the waves, feeling warm. You feel calm and relaxed… Now open your eyes. Everyone feel calm and relaxed?”

Practical exercises

It appeared so. The students settled down to an exercise on completing achievement statements. Each student in turn completed sentences such as: “I am better at… using my words”; “I felt proud when… I did something different by coming to the Arsenal stadium”; “Now I can… listen in lessons and not shout out when the teacher is talking.”

The Oak Lodge team uses practical exercises to improve four aspects of SCERTS:

  • Task engagement and functional communications – visual charts attached to key rings and flagging tasks red (to do) and green (done) help here
  • Emotional expression – understanding their emotions and what to do about them
  • Transitions, both between and within activities
  • Interactions: developing a more adult style.

Visual-spatial processing is often a strength among these students, which can be used to help them learn. And students’ special interests can also help functional communication: for example, an illustration of a dinosaur with a speech bubble passing on the message.

In conclusion, Ginny d’Orico suggested four tips for teachers to make clear their intentions and enable students to achieve:

  • Provide visual support
  • Ensure a calm, productive class environment
  • Help students to predict what is expected of them
  • “But don’t say the same thing over and over!”

 

 

 

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Coaching for Learning

Those who know me know that I have a love for mentoring and coaching. This is based on all of my experiences where these styles of conversations actually improve learning.  I also follow a blog called whatedsaid and was really pleased to see some of the comments made by others including;

Action

If there’s no action, there is no point in coaching. What happens as a result of the reflective conversations? What do teachers do? How does practice change? How is learning affected?

This is so true, the whole point of these conversations is to move learning on. Also commented on was;

Evidence based

Coaching is grounded in evidence. From the first conversation, it’s about noticing and naming what the coachee is feeling, followed by gathering of agreed data through planned observation, to seeking evidence that change has taken place. How will the teacher know she has been successful? How is student learning impacted?

For those of us trying to support teachers whether experienced or new to the profession all conversations should be productive for the coachee rather than a time waster, that stops them from reflecting and moving forward. And finally;

Listening is a key element

Coaching is about LISTENING, not about TELLING. It’s like inquiry teaching… Listen to where the learner (teacher) is at and ask questions that help them figure out where to go next. The coach needs to get rid of their ‘internal dialogue’ – It’s not about you!

So many senior leaders think that they have to be the one in charge, really bad coaching can leave the coachee feeling very uninspired and demotivated. I know I have been there,and heard others. In the staff room I hear after appraisal ‘ they are giving me one last chance’, or ‘I tried to explain that over the course of the year x, y or z happened which was outside my remit, but they just wouldn’t listen and help me work out what to do if it happens next time’. and finally ‘it just feels like they are using appraisal to stop me getting paid any extra’. Just remember if you were the coach who wasn’t being an effective coach – None of these teachers deserved this as they were good solid teachers, none of the departments or their leaders needed the demotivated staff as it impacts not only on the coachee but all of the people around them. Finally if they get that demotivated they drag everyone down with their negative tones and/or eventually leave which is counter productive. Retention is clearly the best option as you know the person in front of you, anyone else will take more time and money to fit in…just worth thinking about.

If you want to see more on this blog visit http://whatedsaid.wordpress.com/2014/12/06/coaching-for-learning/#like-19189

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

Behaviour Policy – Have you checked all bases?

I was very interested by this post http://headguruteacher.com/2014/10/04/towards-impeccable-behaviour-part-2-ready-for-launch/ by Tom Sherringham as he appears to have covered all bases, ensuring that everyone knows and understands the new behaviour policy. However what about the much-needed supply staff/cover teachers?

As term progresses the needs of schools mean the reliance on supply staff. These staff cover the lessons due to illness or planned absence. These staff are necessary for the smooth running of the school. Experienced ones are godsends, especially if they have been with the school a while. They know the schools needs, the rules, the teachers and pupils, so leading to a seamless transition between ill teacher and cover teacher. However, this isn’t always the case.

Just consider this scenario

After a late call, a Supply teacher arrives at  Highbury Grove (or any other school) a place they have never been to before. They are met by the receptionist who is off-hand (obviously having a bad start to the day), and just gives a string of instructions of where to find the cover supervisor.

It is a large site, so only the first three instructions were remembered … go through the double doors, down the corridor, outside, then keep left etc., etc. After a few conversations with helpful staff and pupils, the supply teacher arrived at the correct place to find there was no one there. They waited a few minutes and then checked with the first adult that came past, the adult went away and came back with the information that the cover supervisor had gone to cover a lesson. The supply teacher was then given more verbal instructions on where to go next.

On arrival at the correct classroom (despite wrong turns), a teacher was already there, class settled ready to start and had switched on the laptop … it looked good. They said Hi, quickly followed by here is a pack (supply staff had no time to read it) , here is the cover work (no time to read it) and I have to go now…all in one breath, and promptly left.

Cover teacher introduced themselves to the class of 30 bottom set year 8’s and tried to start the lesson. It didn’t take long until the cover teacher felt sorry for the class teacher.  The teacher had done the right thing and had set a great lesson on Power-point, but unfortunately both the supply teacher and students were set up for a failed lesson.

The computer and interactive board were not linked, and surprisingly no tech savvy pupils could make it work either. In addition there was no whiteboard/flip chart to put the information the students needed up, and so the disruption inevitably started. In response the supply teacher looks at the information given by the school, which incidentally is also the C1 etc behaviour policy as described by Tom in his blog. However it simply said C1 place name on the board, then second time add C2 to the name. There was a number to ring but no phone in the room.

The information on one side of A4 was confusing and needed time to digest, but quite simply the supply teacher did not have the time as they had to try to get the hang of it, without the tools to fully support it i.e. there was no whiteboard/flip chart to write the names down at C1 level. At the same time the supply teacher had to maintain discipline and ensure the students were learning, as they were very conscious of those students in the class who wanted to learn and the teacher who expected the work completed.

At break time the teacher reread the instructions, but there was no  clear explanation of what to do when you cannot fulfil the process. The diagram on Tom’s blog is much more understandable and clear of its expectations at all levels. I suggest for Tom and the school to be even more successful, they should consider adding the diagram to the information that I presume they already give to supply staff  re. behaviour policy and classroom expectations. For the supply teacher in this scenario, with no register to know who was in the class, (the register had to go to attendance within ten minutes of lesson start), or if they managed to find out the names, a board to write them down, what do you do?

How many reading this are now shouting, well why didn’t they go to the classroom along the way?? Such a great idea, but this was an isolated classroom and to get to the nearest other teachers/ humans you had to go up at least ten steps and along a long ramp – too far to leave a class of restless bottom set year 8’s.

The next class were bottom set year 9’s, again no way of getting help for the brilliant lesson, so using the small computer screen was the only option. At break time adults arrived to use the kettle in the back-room, so luckily these problems were resolved for the rest of the day.

Despite the students, staff and parents all being aware of this behaviour policy,  it can be complicated if being picked up for the first time, so I urge you Tom and other similar schools before implementing new policies that effect classrooms, just check how easy is it for a supply member of staff – who doesn’t know the school – to pick up, understand and use the new strategy.

Remember you are only as good as your weakest link  – in this case it could be unwittingly the supply teacher for no fault of their own.

NB to support supply/cover staff the following are always really helpful…its not an exhaustive list but a good start

  • register with picture of students
  • cover work – back up incase the link to the school intranet where the work is stored cannot be accessed if the technology lets you down
  • something else in the classroom i.e. whiteboard in-case again incase technology lets the lesson down
  • behaviour policy and a list of the terms management focus i.e. no mobile phones if so x,y,or z happens
  • map showing staff room, classroom and toilet
  • welcoming and then throughout the day helpful reception staff (They are the first people they met, so invariably if there is no one else they will go back to this contact point)
  • senior team or cover manager to look in on isolated teachers, but especially cover teachers to support and help sort out problems particularly at the beginning of the day

Have  a great term

 

Liz

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

Leaders 2 -Strategic Planning and Development

As a leader you will need to ensure all of your teachers and learners receive the same curriculum to the same level using individuals skills, prior experiences and individual personality. Written like this it looks a large task but in reality it is made easier if you think about and follow your response to these questions.

  • How will you develop subject policies then ensure all teachers” commitment to them?
  • How will you ensure the above particularly in relation to high achievement and teaching and learning?
  • How will you maintain a positive attitude towards your subject?
  • What data will you need to collect? How often will it need to be collected? How should it be sued to inform policies, planning, targets and teaching methods.
  • How will you establish short, medium and long-term subject development plans? How will you ensure that:-they contribute to the whole schools aims, that they are based on pupil performance data, identify targets for improvement within your subject and then most importantly ensure that they are understood by everyone involved, parents included.
  • How will you monitor progress made in achieving your subjects development plan and targets?

Leaders 1 – Teaching your subject

As managers of subject areas the following are things to think about to ensure effective teaching and learning.

  1. How will you (as a manager)  ensure curriculum coverage for your learners?
  2. How will you ensure that teachers are clear about the sequence of teaching in the subject and objectives of individual lessons?
  3. How will you provide guidance on choice of appropriate teaching and learning methods?
  4. How will you ensure that there is effective development in all current strategies including literacy, numeracy and technological skills?
  5. How will you establish and implement policies and practices for assessment, recording and reporting learners achievement including target setting?
  6. How will you set targets for a) learners and b) teachers in relation to standards of pupil achievement and quality of teaching?
  7. How will you evaluate the quality of teaching and then how would you use this good practice to improve teaching in your department?
  8. How will you establish a partnership with parents, community and businesses?

Positive learning ethos

For new Pastoral leaders September is a time for change so maybe this is a good time to write about what a pastoral leader should be about.  Those who have done it for  along while it may be a time to reflect and ask whether some things that they sued to do would be a good idea to bring back.  You know your children so what is right for them?

the object of the pastoral system is to give support and guidance in various measures depending on the situation occasionally there will be a need to be objective and influence to ensure both the students and the staffs needs are met. This is what makes it tricky when staff member A comes and says child X is making my life hell…you listen and respond supportively then talk to child X. That’s if child X hasn’t already reached your door saying staff member A is a (expletive).  Again listen and respond supportively negotiate and influence better behaviour and learning. Then go back to staff member A without going into too much detail explain you have talked to child X and again negotiate a way forward without them losing self-respect or their authority but make sure that learning on their next lesson together occurs. NB know your staff and children then it is far easier to referee.

Our role is to nurture and support i.e. we must constantly strive to foster personal development through providing our students with counselling and guidance. They must always be given the opportunity to take responsibility for their own actions, to make decisions based on knowing the implications of choice. Self respect and respect for others must be key. Unacceptable action can be challenged  but not the individual or their background. As teachers we must work towards the students developing self discipline and understanding responsibility for actions. Ultimately we want students to behave responsibly because they feel it is important.

Suggestions for a referral system for challenging behaviour or under achievement in a secondary setting could be;

Tutor                 or/and                    Subject Teacher

to                                                                 to

Head of Year        or/and              Head of Department               or/and       Head of curriculum Area

to                                                                   to

School Attainment Officer / Learning Leader

to

Deputy Headteacher (Attainment or behaviour)

to

Head teacher

One of the best ways to ensure the students and staff (from a managers point of view) are all aware of the system is to be clear what the behaviour policy, attainment policy and marks scheme is.  Clarity from these adhered to by all ensures a more successful school.

Most schools have a clear marking scheme but if you are new to the job of coordinating or leading this maybe a good starting point. What makes this good is a child could have put E top effort in but got 1 for understanding making them feel their effort has been recognised. Whilst just on this subject it is also good to let parents and students know how you will be marking i.e. over a term you may mark 1/3 in-depth, 1/3 impressionistic and 1/3 self assessment.

In depth means marking to curriculum and subject/exam expectations of understanding and feeding back relevant information to help them develop their work to the next level or grade boundary.

It is also worth mixing things up a bit and also change seating so that students gain many experiences  and also develop their own learning strategies. once you are settled into school use a mix of 1/3 friendship grouping, 1/3 boy/girl seating and 1/3 teacher defined pairs (based on ability etc.)

EFFORT

PERFORMANCE

(Understanding/Knowledge/Skills)

Excellent Effort E 5 You really understand this work
Commendable effort G 4 You have a good understanding of this part of the work but with a   little more effort you will understand it better.
Satisfactory effort S 3 You seem to understand it but you need further work to understand it   better.
Unsatisfactory effort P 2 You don’t seem to have understood all of it, ask me for help.
No effort made C 1 You haven’t understood this. Please ask for help.

Lessons to be learnt – How much trust should we give EAL TAs?

Lessons to be learnt How much trust do we give EAL TAs?

After observing some planning and teacher training in London last week the following occurred to me not as way of criticism but more as reflective practice and moving learning in the classroom along.

Clearly we should not give any teacher or TA (Teaching Assistant) 100% trust until we have assured ourselves that they are giving 100% correct instruction. As no teacher is a super teacher i.e.  never needing support, mentoring or guidance then why should we give EAL TAs (English as a second language Teaching Assistants) this trust and change policies to suit them?
Don’t  get me wrong I think TA’s and EAL TA’s in particular are great but we should not implicitly trust them to guide our youngsters in the ETHOS of the school, the teaching of academic concepts and language and assessment without having an overview of their abilities and skills ourselves as senior managers and governors.
I watched a situation recently where a group of excellent teachers were planning and talking about the use of technology available to support maths teaching. They were thinking really creatively about how they could teach in their classrooms (and not looking at a withdrawal group) a mathematical concept that the rest of the year were  learning. For me it was brilliant they were marrying their skills with technology to save time for them when planning and delivering, but increasing the children’s learning ability whilst making it interesting.

All went well until the TA that supports them became part of the discussion and within no time suddenly the TA had convinced them the group needed to be withdrawn and that it could take time for the children to learn it. What struck me most as an observer was that I had been in that situation many times but could see now that the TA  was steering our teaching. Today seeing it this way made me wonder what made these excellent practitioners take another persons word and run with it?

Why didn’t they question or try out their theory and review it if it didn’t work? They had built a translation requirement in, their practice was excellent, their topic was interesting, their own personal understanding of the concept was excellent and yet they let someone without the same or better credentials influence them and their decisions.

Something worth pondering on.

SELECTING MATERIALS – DT /STEM

SELECTING MATERIALS

For any product, the materials and the manufacturing methods the designer chooses depend upon the answers to a number of questions:

•         Is the material available?

Is it in sheet, fibre, rod, bar or some other form?

•         Is the material easy to work?

•         Is the appearance suitable?

What does it look like?

•         What are the material properties?

•         Is the material safe? Is it hygienic?

Is it toxic or inflammable?

How does temperature affect it?

•         Is the material environmentally friendly?

Is it recyclable?

•         Is the material functional – does it do the job?