Fifteen years ago I decided to join a tutoring agency as I was interested in primary education. I had no previous experience apart from working as an assistant at a primary school, teaching my own children and limited knowledge of special educational needs ( SEN).
|When I started. A look back!|
I researched tutoring agencies, joined one and within a week I was contacted by a keen parent! I was so keen that I immediately purchased some primary school text books and a range of different teaching aids.
This parent wanted one hour per week for their child who I shall call student B. I was thrilled to get my first appointment and I started researching lesson plans, course material and worksheets online.
I started teaching student B in September. However, after about 3 months, I realised that progress was slow. I would teach a topic and have to reteach the exact subject week after week – as their retention of the information was extremely low. However, I persevered and would challenge myself to get better and more creative ways to teach, and I also adapted my lessons to suit Student B\’s personal needs.
We eventually started to make good progress and their mother and father were extremely pleased. A year later this child had to sit primary school exams. Again, I found it difficult to get student B to remember key facts and Student B struggled with the basic elements of maths and English, but I persevered and researched better and more productive ways to help.
Child B did the best they could and achieved a full pass for science and just under a grade for maths and English. Of course, I was disappointed that they did not get the pass for all three subjects but was happy that they achieved almost average mark for maths and English. This was something we could work on.
When I attended the lessons after her results her mother was beaning about what child B had achieved. I was a little taken back as I felt her mother might be disappointed that student B did not achieve the pass grades which would deem her an average student. Student B\’S mother informed me that they was thrilled with the success. It transpires the primary school had stated, for student B\’s entire primary school years, that been able to give them a grade as Student B\’s work did not even fulfil the minimum criteria. This means that the primary school were never able to give her a grade for individual tests.
Student B\’s mother did not expect her to even get a grade and would only ever had imaged that she would get a full pass for science and near passes for maths and English.
For me this was a lesson learnt. When I started teaching I was inexperienced so did not even consider asking about SEN. My concern was to deal with any issues and find a solution to them. I never even considered this to be an issue. My issue were how was I to get student B to a standard that would be achievable and show that she had been learning and progressing . I did not make excuses for their lack of understanding but endeavoured to find a solution to the problem.
Had student B\’s mother had told me about their special educational needs would I might have restricted the curriculum? Would I have given student B the rich,vibrant education that we both enjoyed and learnt from or would I have stated, \’poor student B they cannot do that\’? I do not know, but what I do know is that we must not limit our children\’s progress. There will be topics within a subject they enjoy. To say my child is not good at maths is ridiculous. Maths is so vast it covers number, geometrically to algebra. Is this parent telling me that their child cannot even learn what different shapes are called?
Because of this experience, I never ever limit children. I teach a rich and vibrant curriculum and give all children a chance to shine in what they are good at. Yes, there will be topics which they find difficult but we can overcome that by teaching in bite size chunks or to a level appropriate for them. Challenge and support children and you will see a vast improvement in their education attainment and their self confidence.
My final words are:
1: Give every child the opportunity to study the vast range topics
2: Do not use the label of SEN to stop a child from achieving
3: Listen to the child and find out what they enjoy
4: The entire UK population has special needs! Okay, that\’s a bit of a hyperbole – but you know what I mean! Some are more severe than other and I understand that some are so profound that they are limited in their educational achievement. However, children should not be limited in their educational achievements. Give them the tools and patience to learn to the highest level attainable for them.