SET Classroom: 5 Tips to Set Up for Success!
This may seem obvious, but it is important to be organised for your day. You are in and out of your room, taking different groups and children as well as providing in-class support. I think the best thing to do is get into the classroom early to give yourself time.
Last year I colour-coded my groups so it was easy to grab their stuff. I would also keep all their folders in a magazine file on a shelf so that you can just grab and go. Another great trick I learnt last year was keeping my running records on a clipboard and I could write on them as I worked and see what we were due to cover.
My next top tip is to collaborate with the SEN team in the school. You can learn so much from others that have worked in the role and have the experience. Reach out and ask questions once you do you will feel much more at ease. Also ask for resources and share resources. If you have a budget be sure to use it wisely. Do not spend it all in one go! See what resources are available in the school and then think of what you may need. Some schools have a central store for SET resources and some teachers keep the resources in their room. End of the day, people are willing to share and help, especially if you reach out.
Research & CPD
I was never an expert nor am I an expert when it comes to SET. I have however always had a positive attitude to researching the needs of children I work with and learning more. I communicate with parents, external agencies and complete relevant CPD in the area. Sometimes there may be needs you have never heard of but that is your opportunity to learn new knowledge and gain experiences.
I realise that at the end of a school day the last thing you want to be doing is heading into an education centre or webinar, but it will make all the difference to your capabilities and empower you as a teacher.
School Support Plans
The new model of support offers a fluidity for children to move from different levels of support. A great thing about this new model of support is that a child may just need a block of intensive support and then return to the classroom. The support can vary from in-class to withdrawal.
In developing a school support plan you want to be very specific with your targets and ensure that you can measure the success. Keep it simple and focus on what you want the child to be able to do. Below are examples of targets I have set previously for children.
“Strengthen core muscles and muscle strength in fingers to allow ______ to button coat, open bag, manipulate small objects etc.”
“Complete categorisation, questioning and develop basic verbal reasoning skills.”
“Recall 3 to 5 items in a sequence/ working memory tasks using the black sheep press program.”
Targets form your baseline for working with children. The reason I think it is important to keep the targets simple, is that you are setting children up to succeed.
Get to Know the Children!
Obvious tip, am I right? Surprisingly however, some people will use the paperwork they have in completing their School Support Plans. It is easy to get caught in this trap of getting the plans done and out of the way, building on previous targets, looking at reports for continuation. This isn’t always best. A child may have changed over the summer, or between holidays or a report may not clearly reflect the child’s needs.
I am in no way saying that the reports aren’t an important element but what is more important is ensuring you are setting targets based on your experience with the child.
All teachers have different approaches to supporting children. I know from personal experience that when I read a report of a new child I was getting, I had prepared a lot of material. The report gave me a certain interpretation of the child’s needs but when I spent time and got to know the student when they started with us, I was surprised at how different this child was to the report. They exceeded my expectations and now I will always prioritise waiting to meet children, get to know them, learn about their likes and dislikes rather than focusing on reports.
There are endless opportunities in Special Education to develop your skills as a teacher. It is a role where you can experience many aspects of teaching and learn new strategies. I feel that my having been in SET, I am using my knowledge within the classroom and I can apply the classroom support model effectively with children.
Special Education is an invaluable experience that everyone should experience at some point in their career.
Thanks for reading!
We loved Emma’s tips and perspective of SET. If you would like to share good practice with us, please get in touch at email@example.com – we’d love to hear from you!
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The teacher was returning to work following maternity leave, worried and looking for tips to juggle her work-life balance so she asked the teacher community.
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