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SEN in secondary - help?

Discussion in 'Special educational needs' started by a_wrinkle_of_stars, Oct 21, 2017.

  1. a_wrinkle_of_stars

    a_wrinkle_of_stars New commenter

    I'm a trainee English teacher, just started in September. I've no experience at all with SEN and have had no training on this from school or uni. Have been working with a Y7 class who have a range of SEN diagnoses and behaviours between them - ADHD, autism traits, learning difficulties/disabilities. There are also some in the class who are low literacy due to EAL or have missed a lot of school due to medical or cultural reasons. There are 17 in the class and they are very needy, very very difficult to keep on task and behaviour. I have just found out this will be one of 'my' classes, i.e. I'll be teaching them a lot. I have been trying to find out the best strategies for teaching these children, especially looking for info on ADHD/ ASC, but I can only find online stratgies for 'managing' their behaviour, rather than actuall teaching them in a style that is adapted so they can better learn. As far as I can see the teacher is not adapting his style of teaching, which is quite traditional. Does anyone have any advice, please? I mentioned it to someone at uni and she suggested group and project work - is this really a good idea? Googling tells me that it can work but only if they are with good work role models - there are none in the group.
  2. minnie me

    minnie me Star commenter

    I get really frustrated/ angry when I read requests for help like this - with the setting I hasten to add not the OP ! So many points I would like to raise. You have observed one teacher ? Important that you see how the group works for others ? You mention a range of ( complex ) need but don't mention any documentation which details any specfic strategies which you can exploit or any additional TA support which you can deploy ? Where is the SENCO to advise and guide ? Do you have data ? ( eg CATs score / Reading / Spelling ) to inform your planning . Don't assume the students will not have strengths to which you can play ? Yes of course there are massive behaviour issues because the group dynamics ' need ' the ' control . ( When I was Head of Curriculum Support one if the first things I did was to place students in teaching groups to make progress commensurate with their abilities to try and avoid situations like this n) I suspect this would test the capability of a very experienced need staff member so ....... I understand why your tutor would suggest group / project work ( strong rationale for this ) but again this is very hard to organise and deliver if you are a trainee / in isolation ? I am going to conversation you my e mail add . Get in touch and I shall send you somethings which may help .
  3. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    One thing I have learned from experience is that while strategies for teaching certain groups or kids with specific diagnoses can be useful, the best thing for everyone is knowing what the individual child responds to. Sometimes that will go directly against the received wisdom for the diagnosis so you have to be ready to be flexible. I would try to talk to a range of teachers who have these children and ask their advice. Parents or the pupils themselves are also useful, but they may be fed up of having to explain (again) so it's best to check if the school already have relevant information.

    Make sure you differentiate for literacy needs, but again allow flexibility. I tend to offer a range of support and let pupils pick the level they need. Sometimes even very able pupils get reassurance and confidence from looking at the more scaffolded versions of things, even if they then put them to one side.
  4. a_wrinkle_of_stars

    a_wrinkle_of_stars New commenter

    Thanks very much for your advice. I will make a note of all this. I feel really out of my depth with this class and am concerned that I'm not going to do more harm than good. I am hesitant to sound critical because I know I am the least experienced person in the school, and for all I know I am missing something obvious, but I assumed that there would be some pedagogical plan in place and as far as I can see there is none.
  5. a_wrinkle_of_stars

    a_wrinkle_of_stars New commenter

    Minnie me, is there a private message service on this forum? I can't find an inbox for me.
    You have observed one teacher ? Important that you see how the group works for others ? - yes, only one teacher. I will ask to observe them in other subjects.
    You mention a range of ( complex ) need but don't mention any documentation which details any specfic strategies which you can exploit or any additional TA support which you can deploy ? - I understand that it is very unlikely there will be a TA. There is very basic info available (literally just a one-line statement of the diagnosis) and I think there is a page of very vague and generalised advice, much of which is focused on behaviour rather than learning.

    Where is the SENCO to advise and guide ? - we do have one but I've not had any contact with her. Can try and get in touch though I assume she has the whole school to deal with so I don't know how much time she will have for me.

    Do you have data ? ( eg CATs score / Reading / Spelling ) to inform your planning . - yes, but I don't know what the scores mean in practice for what they can do or not do, or for what my expectations should be; the scores are from primary and I have not encountered anything like this at all as I am on a secondary ITT course, so they are meaningless to me. Some have very weak literacy, others are stronger, but have weak comprehension/attention/memory. S I am aware they may display poor literacy for very different underlying reasons, but I don't know what those reasons are or how I can address the reasons. I feel they need so much personalisation and I don't know *anything* about SEN let alone how to apply theoretical understanding of SEN (which in my case I do not have!) to the practical teaching of children with a range of complex needs, to enable progress. I think there is just one day scheduled on the course about SEN.
  6. minnie me

    minnie me Star commenter

    Re private message. Click on my name under the avatar to the left of the page It will bring up a box with options. Click on conversation and take it from there. An email add will suffice and I can address your concerns at length then . I have already started a conversation with you with my details which you should be able to access by clicking on your avatar at the top of the page.
  7. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    It's a Y7 group, so don't worry, you won't do anything detrimental! Focus on building a relationship with them, getting to know them. Try to incorporate some of their interests into their lessons if possible.

    What's coming up on your schemes of work? Hopefully a nice text to engage them, something like Holes (fingers crossed).

    Do you have access to the SEN register? It may contain details about their capabilities, or advice about things they respond to. Speak to the SECO when you can.

    Go slow, give them plenty of time, scaffold tasks. Visual aids. Humour.
  8. dzil

    dzil Occasional commenter

    Hi, I come from a "special" school and teach English at secondary level. The strategies I have used may not work for you in mainstream, but I'm happy to share. I know some secondary mainstream colleagues have tried some of my ideas and found them helpful.
    I tend to assume the students can't read with much understanding and plan that way, so that the least able can make a contribution and learn. I do this mainly by keeping the reading and writing to a minimum until I've got the feel for how they are working.
    Also, I do lots of short quick fire activities (often the whole lesson is made up of ten minute starter type activities on a subject) giving them different ways to learn and practice the same thing - mixing individual work, pairs, small group work. Sorting, sequencing, diamond ranking, holding up whiteboard "Yes" or "no" responses to closed questions, hot seating as a character... that sort of thing. - sounds a bit primary, but they are year 7, they'll be used to some of this and as long as you make the resources feel secondary and adult (think of some of the good workshop type learning you've done yourself in your training and steal the ideas)
    At first you may not be teaching them anything other than your expectations, rules and routines. That can be enough for them to start with... you may only loosely link the activities to the topic at first. To satisfy your assessors, you may need to make it clear that this is what you are doing and add "teaching rules and routines" to your lesson objectives... discuss it with your teacher.
    Can be tricky to plan, but once you get a formula and a rhythm that works stick to it, - once the students know what to expect, they become comfortable with the routine and expectations and that makes your life easier. Then you can begin to teach.
    What are your topics / texts? I'm happy to share lesson ideas if I have any. PM me.
  9. Flanks

    Flanks Established commenter

    Good teaching for SEN is also best practice for non SEN, so regard it as a perfect opportunity to practice ;) the attainment gap for students with sen tends to widen in secondary, and year 7 transition is the time when most vulnerable students with poor resilience can really be lost. So year 7 really matters, whoever thinks otherwise is nuts.

    Manage the pace of your lesson appropriately. Don't be in a rush, if you move on too early you will have to try and work out what was missed our mislearned later, which can be very difficult. The students may also need a lot longer to think things through, understand, read, write etc, give them this time and let the class run at its natural speed.

    On from this, never move on completely after they have learned something. Always make sure the next lesson has a heavy overlap with the last one. Opportunities to revisit and over learn will pay huge dividends later.

    Don't be afraid to read aloud to the class. This can make a real difference to engagement. If any students want to help with this great, but don't push it if they don't want to.

    Go for very clear progression for each student (big ask this). As you see their ability develop, start to write specific targets for improvement after marking and use 5 minutes in each lesson to make sure each knows what you have written. Then, don't be in a hurry to write achieved! If they do it with support note that, then when they do it without. Then once they have done it two to three times without you say achieved and celebrate with them.

    You will make mistakes, get outbursts, misjudge moods, be a victim of external factors such as social misunderstandings in break time which were nothing to do with you, missed meals, poor sleep etc, all of which will swing in greater factors than for other classes. Try to remember it isn't personal, manage the tone of your voice, learn how to add strength to your tone without raising your voice (will take years!!).

    Finally, still be willing to take risks in the teaching. Any engaging lesson has opportunities to learn, and if a student finds heavy literacy based teaching (most teaching) difficult to access then try to introduce other sensory things. Write in sand, if you want creative writing give them models as prompts to see and touch, use story board planning and give then three times as long to get the while writing process done etc.

    Could go on, but my predictive swype text is going nuts!
    dzil likes this.
  10. a_wrinkle_of_stars

    a_wrinkle_of_stars New commenter

    Many thanks for all this advic e- and I have now found the conversation button too. I will make a note of all this to try in the next half of term. Thanks again!

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