Wednesday, 15 January 2014

PECs, Ipads and Communication

Something new I'm trying this term - having a session a week purely aimed at developing the communication of the pupils in my class.

I have 8 pupils - soon to be 9.

1 completely verbal but suffers with word finding difficulties.
1 fairly competent on PECs.
3 that use PECs for snack/lunch only.
1 pmld that mum is attempting to use PECs basic exchanges with.
1 that has just been given an Ipad (Proloquo?) to communicate with.
1 very basic language but chooses to use PECs at times.

Trying very hard to develop PECs in my 3 that use for lunch/snack only - however it is challenging when the others need attention as well. I'm definitely finding it challenging to find holding activities that will keep their attention for longer periods while staff focus their attention on individual pupils for sessions like this. I've planned so I have 2 or 3 completing activities with pupils and 1 floating to occupy floating children... but it's finding the resources to have out that will hold their attention.

One thing I also find difficult is trying to get the 1 with the Ipad to understand it is for communication and isn't just  toy (pressing 'Ambulance' over and over and over again... isn't helpful!). I appreciate that the ipads are a great tool to develop communication, but when they all have one at home to play with, they're struggling to understand that this one belongs to that child and doesn't have the Cbeebies app on!

I feel that developing communication is important because in this group in particular there is a lot of frustration coming out because they are unable to say or get across what they want or don't want.

Suggestions on how to run PECs sessions with KS1 pupils' would be greatly appreciated. Or ideas for holding activities - messy play/treasure baskets etc.

Find me on Twitter - @Ria1984

Sunday, 12 January 2014

PE, Schoolsafe and the first week back

My class are a Rec/Year 1 mix and as I said previously adjusting from the management style of KS3 has been a challenge, which would've been difficult enough except the schools policies and general paperwork differs between EYFS and KS1 so I'm having to get my head round two different ways of working...I have 2 EYFS students and their assessment is completely different to the other 7 pupils who are KS1. Still finding it a challenge to find time to make sense of CLL, PSED, PD and 'Specifics'  much less to plan for them in amongst my KS1 lesson planning, in an EYFS classroom set up!?

Anyway, the EYFS set up... Haven't really had a chance to evaluate yet as only really have 2 days where it will be used properly, due to nature of where assemblies, visits to soft play and pe lessons etc. fit in the week. One of my SSAs isn't convinced it will work due to not being able to observe "lessons" if pupils are taught individually (the SSAs are responsible for writing Learning Journeys for each subject). Had a difficult time explaining how it would work... However, my other SSAs are from EYFS so they're behind it and recognise that this group of children just can't sit and learn as a group. On Wednesday and Friday I used plastic buckets, with a "colour" and "letter" theme as an exploratory activity whilst pupils were doing work boxes 1:1. I'm not sure these occupied them well enough, even alongside a home corner. With their asd the pupils in my class tend to flit very quickly between activities/toys - suggestions of "areas" or activities to occupy them, or even better, allow them to occupy themselves would be greatly appreciated.

I'm really facing difficulties getting one in particular to move away from what he wants to do and do any activity. Even a workbox now, with 2-3 adult directed tasks... With plenty of warning through showing him it well in advance, leads to tears. I'm aware that he's just been off two weeks for Xmas, but this has been happening for a long while. Any advice would be welcome. He's yet to attend an assembly - just realises it's not what he wants to be doing/where he wants to be and screams. 

My biggest challenge this week is teaching PE. I've not taught PE for 5 years, as when I was in mainstream secondary within a SEN base I only taught English, Maths, Humanities and PSHE. So, tomorrow is my first attempt, luckily our PE coordinator has planned it for me, but still feeling rather uncomfortable. The main reason for this is that the pupils in my class tend to follow their own agenda... All the time. It's pretty difficult to teach PE 1:1 while the others get on with what they want. So slightly nervous about managing it.

I did a SchoolSafe course on Tuesday, in my honest opinion I didn't find it very useful as it mainly seemed to focus on self-defence. In my case, and I'm aware it might change, I don't feel this is as important for me as preventing them from hurting themselves and how to manoeuvre them if they are endangering themselves. Hopefully, in the future I may be sent on an advanced course which will include this. It was, however, useful in a sense of hearing the legislation and my own rights with regards to defending myself.

Friday, 3 January 2014

Introductions and stuff...

The beginning (again - I just selected all and pressed paste on my ipad and lost everything I'd written so this is v2).

So... 2014 and I've just started blogging, I'm well aware that I'm behind many many excellent teachers as I've read some incredible educational blogs but I thought as it's a new year and I turn the big 3-0 now would be a good time to start.

Plus, in September 2013 I embarked on a new, challenging era of my career and now I've had time to settle and reflect I feel this also indicates a good time to begin a blog. 

Just a small FYI this is my career journey thus far...

2008-2010 Mainstream KS2 Teacher (inc. NQT Year).
2010-2013 MLD Teacher KS3-KS4 + AST for SEN and supporting SENCO in mainstream secondary.
2013-present SLD and PMLD Teacher current class KS1/EYFS mix with high proportion of ASD pupils.

It was a real culture shock to me and what I initially found the biggest challenge in my new job was the movement, not from MLD to SLD/PMLD but the transition from KS3/4 down to KS1/EYFS - mainly the requirement of modifying my language (not in the sense that I constantly swear etc.) going from sentence level instructions down to 1-2 word phrases. 

In the new term, having learnt the ropes, and more importantly learnt a lot about the pupils in my class I'm intending to run my classroom with an EYFS structure and moving away from a constrictive KS1 timetable. This is due to the nature of my pupils who have yet to move on from their time in Reception classes. I found this very difficult at first and struggled to realise that they didn't all have to be sat nicely at a table to learn. I'm still not quite sure I'm there yet! 

One of the things I've gained since September and will carry through my career is the beneficial nature of Learning Journeys, I'm still developing my understanding of how to write them and have used twitter as a cpd tool for this but will continue to explore how to demonstrate pupils learning. Such a great link between classroom and parents.

Further to this, I'm in desperate need of EYFS training and more specifically how I can use an EYFS structure but still ensure my KS1 pupils (my class is KS1 heavy) can tick all their NC boxes. Which has just reminded me that I still need to look at the new NC?!

So... Despite being an AST and at one point (after completing my Masters) feeling quite knowledgeable about my field, I have now quite deliberately embarked on a challenging new journey and have found myself back at...

The Beginning. 

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