Audio version below.
What is Special Education Teaching?
Special education teaching is very different in ethos from mainstream education. In terms of pedagogical approaches it is highly specialised but not different. In terms of knowledge of the child and your teaching approach it gets to the root of why education is so beneficial a career. This is especially true for NQTs.
Specialist Teaching but Never an Expert
If I write that I fully understand the issues faced by my students, and can immediately identify the best intervention to support them I am dangerously deluded. If I expect my students to fit in with my highly differentiated learning environment and excel I will be failing them.
We cannot be experts in all need types. Special education teachers can become experts in the children they teach.
If I apply all the alternative communication systems consistently, and expect all communication based frustrations to evaporate. I will not succeed in interpretation of every communicative behaviour. If I apply every piece of evidence based practice I will fail. By sticking to every initiative that has proved successful in the past, I will still not be providing the best possible education.
If my team support the students too much they will be limiting their life choices. If they leave the child to become frustrated, they will be reinforcing a deficit the child has had applied to them throughout their lives.
Education in a neurodiverse learning environment is a balance of techniques and experience. We should strive to provide both at the right time, and in the right way. For the whole time the child is in our care. Not because we think they seem like a good idea, but because we believe they will be effective for that child at that time. We should also not be afraid to cast them aside if they are not.
We are not responsible for league tables or creating outstanding academies but for providing the education our children need to succeed.
This post was updated in December 2019.