Learning difficulties. How to help learners with difficulties whilst teaching the class as a whole? Special needs of students.
Reflective Diary submitted by Mia, Valencia.
Every classroom as a learning space has to be a friendly environment where children are provided with a sense of stability and permanence which they need. For the students this learning zone has to represent a pleasant working space where their abilities will be utilised to the fullest. Considering that the students are individuals and they have different needs as learners, the classroom can become a volatile surrounding. This in turn can pose a challenge for the teachers, especially with the students whose needs require special assistance and guidance.
Teaching students with difficulties demands more time, patience and specialised instructional strategies that can support and enhance their learning potential. According to their distinctive learning abilities, we as teachers need to provide our learners with varying learning methods that can satisfy their capacities and competences. From my own experience it can sometimes seem as an unexplored territory because you can never know in what kind of situations can you find yourself in and what kind of disabilities and abilities will you find in a person sitting in front of you.
Every week I have classes with a boy who has an attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and whose inattentiveness and impulsiveness are always making my lessons more complicated and not held as planned. Despite preparation and detailed organisation of the lesson, his disabilities are sometimes making learning more hard and at times it seems impossible to make the most of his full potential. The guide “Supporting Students with Learning Disabilities” defines ADHD in the following way: ADHD is a regulatory problem of attention, activity level and impulse control, and it can have a significant impact on a student’s ability to learn. (p. 12)
Sometimes it can be very difficult to carry out the lesson with him and it takes a lot of patience and improvisation. It is necessary to prepare his learning materials according to his interests and abilities so he can remain still and carry on the instructions of each task. Those are usually smaller, manageable exercises set up in a very simple way and in most cases with multi-sensory strategies. For example, his process of learning is much faster if he is listening to an audio material suitable for the age of a nine year-old and then drawing certain objects which he had seen in the previous task. He has to be taking part in each segment of the session because in that way his need for excessive physical movement will be fulfilled.
To conclude, in order to conduct a successful lesson one must be not only theoretically well prepared, but also prone to improvisation. Only in this way can we deliver a successful lesson and maximise student’s learning potential.
- Province of British Colombia. Supporting students with Learning Disabilities, A Guide for Teachers, 2011, (p. 12)