Considering working in a Special Nees School? See below some insightful tips compiled by some of our amazing educators who have had successful experiences.
1. Be approachable! Talk to the students about what interests them. Building rapport is an essential ingredient in having a great day. Be engaged, be present and be intuitive – even if you are a one-shift wonder, be the educator that they remember years later! Take the time to introduce yourself and say who you are. Depending on a child’s needs, they may not respond to questions. Permanent staff are a great support in how to approach different children.
2. Pay attention to what each student likes – Be curious about everything! observing little things like characters on their pencil case can help you to form an instant connection. Some children may be more sensory in what they like, whilst others will verbalise. Remember, that all behaviour is communication. You can also look at how students interreact with each other to find out what students like. Again – permanent staff can be a great guide with this, often each student will have an individual profile stored in a file somewhere in the class, arrive early and have a read, it’s a great way to get helpful information!
3. Every child is different –We celebrate individual differences, there is no one size fits all approach. Be open-minded to learn about different diagnoses and their qualities. Use multi-sensory lessons to engage students. As a CRT, you will be supported to understand the uniqueness of each student. ALWAYS assume competence! The students you are working with may require additional support throughout the day but never assume they cannot do something. They may just do it in their own way and who knows, you may even learn something new.
4. Be Even-Tempered – Students with intellectual disabilities, emotional disturbance, or autism need teachers who are direct, firm, kind, and helpful, even in difficult situations. Watch yourself closely next time a crisis or emergency comes up and see how you respond. Do you remain calm and keep your wits? Maintaining a positive and calm outlook will support the students that you work with, to do the same. As with all children, they may act in ways that are upsetting, without necessarily intending on doing so. It is important that you do not take this personally.
5. Be Confident – When leading students who are unused to taking the lead themselves, you can start questioning your own decisions, but this can result in you losing control. Be self-assured, confident and leave no room for self-doubt. Follow the guidance of other permanent educators. Use common sense when making decisions.
6. Be Flexible & Adaptable – Having the ability to change which children you are working with, or the planned lessons throughout the day based on the needs of the student will support your success in SEN. Students in an SEN environment may require you to adapt more so than those in Mainstream.