Tag Archives: learning

The busy start of term..

Whether you are a parent or a teacher, the last weekend in August marks the start or end of your freedom but those first few days offer a hectic similarity to us all as we readjust to the early mornings and return to the loss of our evenings and weekends to planning, preparation and marking. The countdown to half term begins the moment you step across the threshold and pick up your timetable for the weeks and months ahead. Still, the process of educating and entertaining our charges keeps us going and quickly the arrival of over 300 new personalities serves to reawaken the passion and move on from a relaxing 6 weeks.

The transition period for some young people is a tricky one. Routine is absolutely essential as they try to get used to approximately 15 slight variations of the school rules and have to get to grips with how they will transport the hoard of new books and PE kit in their newly purchased undersized ruck sacks.

The early days do serve as stressful times for the newbies and as teachers it’s important that as we start to set and establish classroom routines and discipline rules in our way, we remember that a collection of nervous faces look at you judging how ‘safe’ they will feel in your class. Hopefully some are not weighing up what they can get away with but a confident approach in the first lesson combined with a nice mix of  assertive humour you will have the kids eating out of your hands.

As you start to see the production of work try and look out for the following traits you may wish to raise with your Head of Department/SENCo as potential areas that may need attention.

  1. The grip the student uses with the pen/pencil. You are looking for a classic tripod grip between thumb and first two fingers. The child doesn’t need to stop and shake their hand from fatigue associated with a tight grip.
  2. The speed at which the student writes. This could be due to poor processing speeds, poor spelling or because of attention issues (which could be temporary and dealt with via a swift prompt and refocus)
  3. Do all students complete tests in the time you have allowed. If not, it could be because of a couple of reasons. Potentially there are processing difficulties which could be alleviated with the application of 25% extra time.  Alternatively a student with an average processing ability may not have yet developed the skills to plan and organise their writing efficiently and some strategic coaching may be all that is needed.
  4. Watch out for spelling errors.

Any of the above observations should be raised with the SENCo who is likely to look into transition data as potential additional evidence to build a picture of need.

Lots to think about but the new term wouldn’t be the new term  without a reminder of the job we trained to do and the reward it offers on a daily basis.

Watch out for next week where my first guest blog post will be uploaded. Keep a close eye.

Enjoy your first half term everyone.

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We never stop learning…

During my last 15 years in school I have met thousands of young people, hundreds of parents and hundreds of like-minded professionals who share (to a greater or lesser extent) my aim of giving young people the tools required to access the education system upon entry (however much we agree or disagree with the central establishment at the time) and exit it as successful learners able to make the transition to employment and sustainability. I don’t yet have children of my own and I am certain that when I do, the decisions I make as a father will be as difficult as those I have helped parents and young people make during their educational journey. What I love about education and learning is that no two learners are ever the same and the challenges faced by each learner and their family are unique. However, there are a number of common themes I have addressed over the years and I will begin to address a range of them in no particular order. Since I took on the role of Special Educational Needs Coordinator in 2008, I have learnt masses about a range of needs spanning the moderate to the complex, yet my approach has always been the same. As I begin to upload more and more posts you will hopefully be able to relate to some with your own experience and context in mind and begin to see a recurring pattern of pragmatism and creativity. As you will have seen already, I will try to include hyperlinks to websites I think may find of use. There are lots of websites out there designed to support parents and carers and if you find any of what I post useful please share this and feel free to make comments and ask questions.