Articles for Collaboroo

Update May 2021: Collaboroo is currently only in Archive form. This page now redirects to our internal posts or the Archive. I want to thank everyone who has visited, May has seen the most visitors ever! However I have not updated my site for a while. I have been working with a great new site for teachers called Collaboroo. Their highly visual Pinterest style site hosts a serendipitous array of creative teaching ideas and really positive discussions.

You can interact by commenting and leaving smiles on posts you like. This is not a sponsored post I just really like what they are trying to create. So in the spirit of collaboration I thought I would share some of the articles I wrote on there. (Click through to read the whole posts).


Top Tips for NQTs in SEN

It is that time of year when trainee teachers are finishing their placements and looking for a school to begin their teaching career in.  I hope some of you consider moving into the SEN sector. It is a great opportunity to build so many essential skills. It is also a great way to get to know the child behind the label, behind the stereotypes and textbook generalisations.

Don’t get me wrong it will be challenging in ways you couldn’t dream of, but I guarantee you will develop a lifelong passion to work with the children who need your expertise, advocacy and commitment the most.

ITT providers seem to be getting better and better at including SEN in courses. Time pressures in a 10 month PGCE means you can never hope to experience everything. My sole exposure to SEN was being told not to write in green as it can be hard to read. Fortunately awareness has moved on a lot since then.

Even if you decide not to apply for a job in an alternative or SEN provision I urge you to arrange a day at your local special school – or even better, mine. The insight you gain into adaptations and different approaches to learning and engagement will be invaluable….

Demand requests and processing time autism

SEN: Demands, Requests and Processing Time

If there was one single piece of advice I would give to those working with children with SEN it would be to give them time. Your time to build trust and a positive relationship but most importantly time to think, time to learn.

Time is our most important and in demand resource. We don’t have enough as teachers to complete most of our tasks. Often our timetables or lesson plans don’t actually allow our students to use time to their advantage.

I have had the opportunity to observe many lessons over my career and I want to apologise to any teacher where I have ever mentioned the pace of a lesson. Getting work done, show lessons and gimmicks do not mean learning is happening. The current trend towards not grading lessons observations should improve this. Even better is having lessons observed by peers or specialist staff like speech and language therapists with a clear focus on looking at that aspect of the lesson.

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My point is that the pace or pizazz of a lesson is in no way indicative of the learning that is occurring. Having a lesson where answers are prompted, or easily found, or even supplied by staff is worthless. It takes a brave teacher or TA to set a task or question and then sit back and wait, especially whilst being observed. It takes a strong will to let the student sit back and plan their action or answer but this is exactly what we must do..

Autism Awareness: Anxiety and Classroom Considerations.

Autism Awareness classroom.jpg

Awareness of autism is not something that can be achieved in just a week. It requires an ongoing commitment to understanding the barriers to our student’s learning. As teachers it is our responsibility to ensure the needs of all our learners are met. Every autistic child is individual in how they perceive the world and the extent to which this will affect their interactions and learning. There are a number of adaptations we can all make to our classroom to make them more accessible to all our students. Although these are written with autistic learners in mind many of your children will benefit from these ideas.

A major barrier to learning is anxiety around expectations, transition and day-to-day interactions. I have grouped the causes of anxiety in school into four main areas and tried to come up with some simple strategies that may alleviate this anxiety. 

This is not an exhaustive list and the only way to start building a picture of your students is to really get to know them, ask parents and the child what they find difficult to deal with and what coping strategies they use.

The Importance of the hook.

The hook teaching autism.jpg

Education shouldn’t be about gimmicks, one off show lessons or flashy “look at me” teaching. It should be about engagement and all schools need a bit of pizazz from time to time. This is where The Hook comes in. You already do it without realizing. You might know it by a different name, an attention grabber, a motivator.  Anyone in any setting can use a hook.

What is the hook?

The hook is what you use to grab the students interest. It’s the device you use to haul in the sleepy, the dispirited, and the disillusioned. Before the starter, before the teacher input, it’s the first thing that the children notice as they walk through the door. They notice if you dye your hair, or put up a new display. It is this same awareness we can use to hook them into their learning.

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