Teaching Students with Special Educational Needs (SENs)

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by Katherine Reilly

Teaching is a privilege. It is the means by which we pass on our heritage to the next generation. Education is every person’s right and must be offered to all children with no discrimination whatsoever. Students with SENs are believed to be difficult to teach. What daunts most teachers, is the manner in which such a procedure must be handled. However, things are much more simple than they seem.

  • Students with SENs, need to be assigned short but feasible tasks. Upon completing these tasks, they get a sense of achievement and acknowledge the love of their teacher. We must always plan our lessons ahead and make sure that the lesson’s objectives are split into smaller ones, tailored to the needs of the learner. One does not need any special training to do this, nor do we have to follow any specific training courses (although these courses are HIGHLY beneficial to teachers).

 

  • Many believe that these lesson preparations take up a lot of the teacher’s time. A teacher MUST know his students’ strengths and weaknesses. Taking into account the specific needs of  each student is a teacher’s obligation. If the student has SENs, the same approach applies to him as well. A teacher would more or less need the same amount of time to prepare his lesson for a class, regardless if one of the students has SENs or not.

 

  • Teachers should stop trying to ‘fix’ the student who has SENs. A student with SENs is not a broken student, nor is he of lower intelligence than his classmates. Instead of looking for a specialist to ‘help’ these students, it is actually the teacher who needs an expert, to be informed of acceptable approaches and methods in their students’ education. Schools need to adapt accordingly and become more inclusive through seminars and training courses which can further help them do their job more efficiently.

 

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  • It’s the teacher’s responsibility to promote inclusiveness in his classroom. Setting rules from day one, will not only assist the child with SENs, but will also benefit all students in class. Such rules are like the ones below:
    • respect your classmates and allow them to speak
    • assist one another when we need help
    • everyone is unique – never label someone as ‘different’

 

  • Use positive language in class. Never say ‘don’t’, and never discourage the child if he didn’t answer correctly. Focus on what he did answer right and praise him for that. Encouragement inspires the student to try even harder and the rewards are obvious after a few attempts at ‘getting it right’.

 

  • Multimedia stimulation is one of the most important, if not THE most important tool a teacher may use. There are many ways to interact with students, providing them with different audio or visual enhancements to intrigue their curiosity, to get their attention or simply make the lesson more fun.

 

  • Keep distractions away from students with a low attention spam. Students who sit next to a door, a window or even next to a nervous classmate, turn their attention elsewhere. These signs are usually noticeable from the first lesson and students must be rearranged in their classroom immediately.

 

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Every person is like a snowflake. Each and every one of us are different in our own way. What we all have in common though is the desire to improve ourselves, to learn and to be loved. Never deny anyone the gift of knowledge. It belongs to our children.

Katherine Reilly

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