Today I met a French man - communication and SEN teaching.

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You arrive at school and you’ve been told there is a child in your class who has special needs and communication difficulties. Where do you begin? Well picture this.

You’re a child sitting in a reading group. Everyone is thumbing through their copy of the same book. A teacher approaches the group and speaks quickly in French. His language is fast and he speaks for two minutes without pausing while looking around at each member of the group. You recognise a few words but, while trying to process, he has moved on and you can’t remember what he has said and try to now concentrate on what he has moved onto!

When he stops speaking, everyone else springs into action turning their pages quickly; they have obviously understood what is going on and are now setting about a task. You suddenly realise that he is now looking directly at you... He speaks quickly. How do you feel? Anxious? Confused? Nonplussed?

Now consider the same scenario again…

The teacher comes over to your table speaking to you in French. This time he is speaking slowly. He has removed some of the words from his sentences and simplifying his language. He is using his hands to point at your book and directing your eyes to a picture. He uses your name and asks a direct question. You understand he wants to know your opinion on something in the picture, and he gives you two options “yes” or “no”. He waits, not speaking for a few seconds. When you do not respond immediately he asks his question again slowly breaking down the language. You realise that you do understand what he wants and answer his question. How do you feel? Better?

For young people with a communication difficulty, language is confusing. Before they can begin a task they need to understand what is expected. So how can you help? Follow these seven simple steps to make a real difference in your classroom today.

  1. Use their name at the beginning of the sentence to show that they need to focus on what is being said.
  2. Simplify your language and use key words - this is something that usually comes naturally when we speak to young children whose language is less developed.
  3. Use visual cues to support what you want you would like them to do.
  4. Ask closed questions with two or three choices to support understanding.
  5. Give processing time – try not to ask another question whilst they are still thinking about your last.
  6. Remember when working with someone with a communication difficulty the words you use are key to their understanding.
  7. And remember, it all starts with you. Be part of making a difference.

At Pulse Education, finding amazing teachers and matching them to a school that suits them perfectly is our passion.

Good teachers are the ones who make a difference; the ones who take the time to listen and understand, or who push us to achieve. They’re essential to improving student learning and closing the achievement gap.

So if you’re looking for a teacher who’s an ideal fit for your school, or a qualified teacher looking for your next opportunity, contact us on:

T: 020 3319 3235
E: education@pulsejobs.com

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