SEND-friendly teaching, antisocial behaviour and teacher wellbeing are the top picks of the education topics this week, chosen by James Pope
It can be so difficult, in the whirlwind of teaching a full timetable, to be properly reflective about the way we create an environment to promote learning for all students. In this post, Amjad Ali explores “SEND-friendly teaching”. As he says, most teachers’ lived experience of the job will have shown that some SEND students struggle with many aspects of the classroom environment.
These struggles reflect their own particular needs, but, Ali believes, they can be grouped into four areas. Pay attention to these and some effective inclusive practices will become habitual. Ali offers simple, well-reasoned hints and tips, which are all linked to his own writings on the subject, as well as relevant further reading and research materials. Anyone looking – or looking again – at how to have a positive impact on the classroom experience and learning of all their students should start here.
In a thought-provoking read for early years staff and school leaders alike, The Quirky Teacher explores the thinking and research she has undertaken while developing a research proposal about conduct problems and anti-social behaviour in pre-school and early years. “Peer rejection,” she says, is established very early on because some children lack the social skills necessary to engage effectively in social play with their classmates.
Conventional thinking and research leads us to tackle the issue through teaching social skills, intervention with parents, and pairing “social children” with “antisocial children” to promote peer learning. Quirky challenges this. In short, her thrust is that curriculum is vital in building a currency of knowledge that enables all children to engage positively in social interactions. Simple, yet devastating for the status quo.
Speaking of challenging the status quo . . . At a recent Heads Up event organised by my organisation Inspireducate, the wonderful Hannah Wilson, writer of many a blog review for Schools Week, asked another simple, yet devastating, question: “Since when did wellbeing become an educational strategy?” It’s a sad reality, but it has – and it speaks volumes about the education system in which we toil.
Accepting that, it is vital that we think about how we can look after ourselves and each other. Gareth Morewood does exactly that. Raising the obvious issue that effectiveness will be impeded if teachers are labouring with work-related stress, he provides techniques that will enable them to “put themselves first”. These include exploring reflective practice, establishing a personal stress and well-being framework and identifying personal flow activities. With useful links to further reading and research, Morewood provides a useful starting point for teachers looking to develop a set of sustainable practices that will help them in their personal and professional lives.
In what is a timely read at the end of the long autumn term, Anni Poole talks about feeling overwhelmed, how this can impact negatively on our roles and how to relieve the tension it causes. She explores how the feeling establishes itself and how you can recognise it for what it is, before going on to provide a simple and effective technique for moving forward.
She warns against the temptation to simply “push through”. This is a challenge for teachers because, not only do we have the propensity to push through our workload, as she points out, it is all too easy to do it with our self-care too. The upcoming holidays shouldn’t be about recovery, but growth.