How To Be The Most Effective Teacher For Your Special Needs Student
Each of us had a smile on our faces, as we finished watching this video.
In fact, it filled our hearts with joy.
It was part of our Professional Development Course.
A trainee commented on what a joy it was to see a child enjoying a session so much. “Normally I see students crying outside a teacher’s door as at the start of a session. This was such a welcome change.” She commented.
Take a look at a few simple pointers you can follow to make your teaching experience pleasurable.
1. Plan the session
Figure out in advance what you’re going to work on. That is half the battle won.
I recently did the following exercise with an outstation parent who found herself repeating the same activities over and over again.
During our session, she put together a list of 5 activities she would work on the next day.
Her assignment was to find a quiet, comfortable place to reflect and write down the activities she would use to engage with her child- the next day.
She couldn’t repeat the same activity till the 4th day.
She did this every day and today no longer feels the anxious tug about repetitive activities.
It’s a simple tool you could try too.
At SAI Connections, teachers and parents use a simple framing sheet.
If you want a copy, don’t hesitate to reach out.
2. Work on learning readiness
Before jumping into a learning session, check if your student is ready to engage with you.
Songs, finger plays, walking together, passing a ball back and forth, are all examples of regulation activities.
They ensure that the child is connected with you.
They prepare him/her for learning.
Working on these before the main teaching task, could revolutionize your session.
You can come up with innovative ideas to implement in your teaching session.
3. Mix and Vary
Variety is the spice of life.
While our aim may be ‘mastery’, it should not be at the cost of repetition.
Can you imagine how bored the child may get? We can teach the same concept but be innovative about it.
For example- if we’re teaching writing the letter F- we could try teaching writing on paper, feeling the letter ‘F’ on sand paper, on the black board, in a sand bin. We could create a collage with the letter F.
We could sing and write. We could view a writing exercise and write on a tablet.
Really, the sky is the limit.
We use the Blueberry curriculum for our students. This curriculum is based on the theory of Multiple Intelligences.
Feel free to reach out for more information.
4. Challenge your student
Every child needs to feel challenged.
Do not underestimate students.
Most times I find myself saying to my students, “ I know you can do it.”
That lights them up.
Have confidence in their abilities. And trust them enough to show you that they can do it. Use the one step ahead model to keep them challenged.
5. Reflect on your work
Completing a session is not just marking off a checklist.
Each session is an learning opportunity for the child. (And teacher)
At SAI Connections, every teacher fills in a log book- each day.
The 3 columns in the log book are:
1. What do I want to achieve?
2. What was the outcome?
3. What can I do better next time?
This helps each teacher to deeply reflect on his/her work.
This book comes to me once a week, so I can help teachers think through their sessions and provide additional guidance.
I learned this from a coach a few years ago.
I’m happy to pass it on to you.
Feel free to use this technique. It works well and helps teachers reflect.
6. Be joyful
A dear friend Apeksha, always has a smile on her face.
I see her brimming with joy and sharing laughter wherever she goes.
She’s blessed the gift of laughter.
As I reflected on this gift, it dawned on me that she’s a teacher.
A smiling, joyful teacher is a blessing to students.
Years ago, I had attended an autism workshop.
The instructor, Merry Barua, gave clear guidance to teachers to ‘leave your moods and emotions at home, before interacting with a child.’
I’ve carried this with me over the years.
When we get to our work place, we need to be fully present with our students.
And we need to be joyful.
It is a game changer.
I am confident if you apply these pointers, you’ll feel fulfilled at the end of each session.
Do this hour by hour and you’ll have fulfilling days.
After all, this is why we chose to teach, right?
If you need additional tips on how to teach effectively, do reach out.
Our aim is to provide respectful education to students with special needs so they can flourish.
We’ll be happy to help you set up a comprehensive plan for your classroom.
Kamini Lakhani is the founder and director of SAI Connections. She has been providing services in the field of autism for more than 25 years and is the authorized director of Professional Training for RDI in India and the Middle East. She is also the mother of a young adult with autism.