Know Your LimitsJoseph Manja
“Know your limits” is always a great rule to live by, but nowhere, in your career as a Foundations teacher, is it more important to implement than in your relationship with your special needs students. It is NOT your job, as a teacher, to figure out whether a student has a special educational need (SEN). This is the job of a specialist. However, as a teacher you are, often, the first person to realize that a student is experiencing problems in class.
A classroom teacher doesn’t need to be an expert on every SEN. Here are common, though certainly not the only, SENs found among students: dyspraxia, dyslexia, ADHD, visual impairment and hearing Impairment. In this article I’d like to give you a brief overview of dyspraxia, and then cover the other SENs in subsequent articles in this series.
Dyspraxia is a disorder in which cognitive and motor difficulties are caused by sensory problems (Kirby, Edwards, Sugden, & Rosenblum, 2010). A checklist for dyspraxia would include the following markers (Kirby, Edwards, Sugden, & Rosenblum, 2010):
- General physical awkwardness
- Problems adjusting to a structured school routine
- Completes classwork at a very slow pace
- Handwriting that is very difficult to read
- Difficulties maintaining concentration
- Difficulty remembering more than 2 instructions at once
Finally, if you think a student might have a SEN, it’s very important not to jump to conclusions and make a diagnosis. Teachers need to be careful not to label and diagnose students. Always, first, seek the counsel of your supervisor & specialists here at the college regarding any of your special needs students.
Kirby, A., Edwards, L., Sugden, D., & Rosenblum, S. (2010). The development and standardization of the Adult Developmental Co-ordination Disorders/Dyspraxia Checklist (ADC). Research In Developmental Disabilities, 31(1), 131-139.