Tag Archives: disabilities

Making technology work for you.

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I’ve just returned from the Critical Agenda’s Annual Conference “Supporting Students with Special Needs”.

One of the workshops I went to was presented by Megan Iemma (@megsamanda), focusing on using ICT in the Special Needs classroom. Megan presented us with a large range of different websites and apps that (I thought) were for students to use in the classroom. However as I listened more, I realised that a lot of these tools were for teachers to use in the planning stage of their lessons and that sometimes the students would benefit from the technology without actually using the technology themselves. I was particularly focused on the literary/dyslexia side of things.

Examples of these include:

The Readability Test Tool

Rewordify

AAC Ferrett App Directory

Megan’s workshop really made me think about how I use technology in the classroom and that sometimes the biggest advantage for the students is when the teacher has used technology to differentiate the learning task.

What sorts of apps/programs do you use to help differentiate tasks for students?

Feeling broken

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On Wednesday I arrived home at 5:30 and crashed on the couch in tears. I honestly felt like my students had broken me.

Over the last four years of teaching, I have prided myself on having fairly ‘good’ behaviour management. I’ve had behaviour management ‘systems’, visual strategies and classroom expectations. All have worked well.

This year is different.

I have lots of external classroom support, but it means so many of my students are in and out of the room at different times, in different rooms, with different teachers and aides…that it means I have to be planned and organised to the utmost degree…and God forbid that one of them is away, because I’m turning into that pedantic teacher that cannot handle any change to the timetable because it means that a) the students cannot handle it and b) their teacher is about to explode.

I spend my days given instructions at least 8 times over. I also use visual cues and hand signals to give directions to save my voice – however they only work when the student actually cares to look. By the time all of them have worked out the directions, we’ve lost 20 minutes of learning time. Use a timer you say? Yes, there’s a massive countdown timer on my interactive TV…but there are some students who are oblivious to any sort of timeframe.

I skipped my yoga class on Thursday afternoon and went home in tears again. My job overwhelmed me. The insane combination of behaviours and learning disabilities had made my head spin.

I feel like I am failing the children who are actually wanting to learn.