By Lewis Wynne
Teaching a class where there is a child who suffers from learning difficulties who cannot call on the help of a teaching assistant can often be challenging, especially with large classes. Due to the large number of students who have a variety of barriers to their learning in our school it is not always easy to have one-to-one support available to them in lessons. A number of students require support in every lesson and more often than not they receive this, but on the odd occasion there maybe lessons where it is just not possible for a T.A to be present.
I had an idea which I thought would be able to help solve this issue and to help ensure that students who had these difficulties could access as much of the curriculum as possible without the support of a teaching assistant.
In my experience of working as a teaching assistant at Beaumont I have noticed that students who have learning difficulties (especially autism) react well to visual cues in lessons. I have noticed that if they can physically see what they might achieve by the end of the lesson then they are more likely to work productively. For this reason I chatted to two new members of staff who I knew taught groups where some SEN pupils were unsupported. We talked about the challenges that the students may face when accessing set tasks so we decided that it may be a good idea for me to produce some subject specific target sheets for a couple of students on a trial basis to see how the students responded to them.
So far these resources have worked especially well with one pupil in particular and it would be really interesting to see how these could help other pupils across the school who maybe do not always receive the support of a teaching assistant in their lessons.
The two members of staff who have used these are Megan Anderson in Geography and Hannah Fraser in P.E and they have given feedback on how they have worked in their lessons with certain pupils. This is shown below.
We have been using target sheets to focus KC both before and within lessons as she is without a teaching assistant in my lessons. There are various general targets that both Lewis and I have set for her to achieve during the lesson. After the lesson both she and I sit down and go through the targets and if we both agree that these targets have been met, we put a big green tick next to the target. We aim to have ticks in all of the boxes and if not, we work towards having them all in there by the next lesson. If all of the targets are met, a positive green slip is sent to her via her tutor tray to recognise the good effort and participation within the lesson.
Hannah Fraser, PE
The targets work really well for OS. It sets clear boundaries of my expectations of him in the lesson. He seems to like the sense of achievement at the end of the lesson if he gets all boxes ticked off. This works well for OS, as I don’t believe he appreciates the importance of school and education. He therefore needs small motivating factors and achievements throughout the day to ensure he is focussed and remains on task.
ML on the other hand, is less responsive to the targets. He is motivated to learn and understands the importance of applying himself in the classroom. He really wants to do well in geography and he is also interested in the subject. ML seems to work better with verbal prompts to ensure he stays on task, as opposed to a check list. This is perhaps easier for me in a year 10 group where the majority of students can remain on task and focussed for prolonged periods of time, this ensures I can ‘keep an eye on’ him and provide verbal prompts and further one-to-one explanation as and when required.
Megan Anderson, Geography
If you are interested in knowing anymore about this then please let me know. Either find me around school or contact me by email (firstname.lastname@example.org).