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What advice would you give?

Discussion in 'Special educational needs' started by charlouking, May 19, 2016.

  1. charlouking

    charlouking New commenter

    Good evening,

    I posted on these forums about a week ago as I had been offered an interview at an SEN school.
    I had my interview today and it went amazingly, they were really impressed and have offered me the job!

    I am so looking forward to starting in September, and really loved the school.

    Anyway, my question to you is "What would your advice be for an NQT moving from mainstream to SEN?".

    I have next term free in which I will be doing some volunteering at the school and preparing for September, I have been looking through this forum, but what else could I do to prepare myself for this new challenge?

    Charlotte :) :)
    Happy new SEN teacher!!!
  2. Jo3Grace

    Jo3Grace New commenter

    Huge Congratulations Charlotte, I have some free planning on http://jo.element42.org which could get you out of a scrape, but biggest advice would be to enjoy the holidays, rest and have fun, so they get a rejuvenated you in September.

    Second tip would be to get your local gym to create a set of back strengthening exercises for you and do them (you'd be amazed at how many people in special settings have bad backs).

    As for the creative planning and teaching, the school wouldn't have employed you if they didn't think you were up to that!

    If you want a skype coffee to chat through plans find me in the land of social media and send me a message (you can try on here but I'm hopeless at checking them)

    Kind regards
    charlouking likes this.
  3. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    No advice. Well, not a lot.

    You're very lucky and very privileged.

    Never forget these children will be adults for most of their lives. They may (but you can't guarantee it) want jobs and partners and children and fun. Your duty is to prepare them.

    Stay unflappable. You'll see some things along the way! ;)

    It's the best job in teaching 2016. It really is.

    Forget the label. You will have a small class. You can afford to give individual service. Try to get in sync with the child and the family.
  4. senlady

    senlady Senior commenter

    I completed my NQT year in an SEN school and loved it. It was a MASSIVELY steep learning curve but amazing.

    I'd say to try and be a sponge with a filter - listen to all you can but filter what will work for you, not everything works and not everyone knows better!

    Be adaptable and flexible. Grow a think skin to sights and sounds.

    As @grumpydogwoman says - remember these children with SEN will grow into adults with SEN and how are you going to give them the life skills they need?!

    Take breaks, relax and rest. Take support offered from all quarters.

    Don't expect to get it 'right' straight away, always, ever???!

  5. loodle1

    loodle1 Occasional commenter

    Congratulations Charlotte! It really is a privilege to work in special ed- you really can make a huge difference to the young people you teach, which us why most of joined the profession in the first place.

    Go in with an open mind and don't expect to apply everything you learned in your PGCE rigidly in this setting. It's a steep learning curve at first, but there will be lots of skilled and experienced people you can learn from, both teachers and support staff. In return you can contribute with your fresh ideas and enthusiasm.

    One piece of advice is regarding lesson planning - you always need to have a plan B ..and C...and D etc! Good planning combined with the ability to think on your feet will take you a long way!

    Volunteering is a great idea as it will give you a chance to get to know the students and build relationships, which is hugely important.

    All the best:)
    dzil, charlouking and grumpydogwoman like this.
  6. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    I love the fact that you're volunteering.

    You're going to love it. Treasure each moment. You can make a real difference.
    charlouking likes this.
  7. charlouking

    charlouking New commenter

    Thank you all for your wonderful replies.

    The school was really amazing and I am in awe of everyone there. I think the thing I worry about the most is that I will be teaching in the secondary part of the school, in the humanities department. However, the subject matter and teaching strategies are so very different from teaching GCSE and A-level classes for example.

    It may just be that I am not looking hard enough but there also seems to be a lack of information on secondary SEN schools and teaching strategies for this age group?

    I worry that I might not challenge the pupil enough, and don't want to 'baby' them for want of a better word too much, although I realise they need much more support and visual learning. I taught a year 8 class with levels similar to my mothers year R class, so its finding the balance.

    I am sure I will love it, however I am going to have to adapt my teaching so much that it is a very daunting prospect.

    Charlotte x
  8. Urbanfaerie

    Urbanfaerie Occasional commenter

    Congrats! My main advice would be that patience is the best skill you can have. It takes time to realise that sometimes lessons don't go the way you'd planned, but that long term it benefits the students.
    For example - I was supposed to be teaching the poem 'Nettles' to an SEN group when I realised they didn't understand what I was talking about. Cue a Google image search to show them pictures, and a discussion of how nettles worked etc, and half the lesson was gone. It DID mean that the next lesson they were happy to come in and learn about the poem.
    charlouking likes this.
  9. charlouking

    charlouking New commenter

    Thank you for your lovely response. I guess my main worry is that I will patronise these secondary age students.
  10. foxtail3

    foxtail3 Star commenter

    You're volunteering, so that will give you a feel for the abilities you'll have in your class. The trick is to adjust the content of what you're teaching without being patronising. One of the trickiest things I found was to garner reading material that has interest for teenagers, but content that is accessible to a much lower reading ability.

    There is huge frustration, joy, delight and heart warming pleasure in teaching SEND.
    grumpydogwoman and dzil like this.
  11. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Just because their learning difficulties are round about R doesn't mean they don't function socially as YR8s. Some will, some won't. You certainly mustn't baby them. Think of it as simplifying or digging down.

    Remember that they're not going to tell you they don't understand. Learn to read their body language. They are very accustomed to not understanding things so they won't necessarily 'play up' in the way mainstream kids might.

    Always remember - they are people first and pupils second.
    dzil likes this.
  12. dr_dig

    dr_dig New commenter

    Congratulations. I completed my NQT year in a special school then didn't leave. My key bit of advice would be focus on building a bond with the child, watch, and listen so you can pick up on the minutiae of their needs. If you want some further ideas try my blog

    Good luck and I really hope you enjoy it!
  13. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    I had that fortune cookie once.
  14. Urbanfaerie

    Urbanfaerie Occasional commenter

    Talk to them at their level, don't use a baby voice. I always say to my students "You're old enough to talk to you like I talk to anyone else" and I do. I would also say don't be afraid to use complex vocabulary. I will often say "Does anyone know what that means?" to check understanding. They seem to appreciate that I don't 'dumb down' for them.

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