Working as a SEND teacher can be a challenging but incredibly rewarding career as they are helping young people with special educational needs or disabilities to thrive in and out of an educational setting.
Without the help and support of a great SEND teacher, children with specialist needs could experience academic and social barriers and never reach their full potential.
As SEND teachers work with children with various physical and emotional needs, they will need a varied skill set to support the children including patience and understanding, effective communication skills and the ability to manage challenging behaviour.
In our latest insights piece, we take a look at 11 strategies on how SEND teachers can effectively support children within the classroom.
Create a practical curriculum
A child with SEND needs might need an adapted or altogether different curriculum from other children. Specialist software or apps could be used where necessary to scaffold the learner.
It’s important to adapt the teaching to the individual learning style of the pupil.
When asking a SEND pupil to do something, ask them to repeat back your instructions so you can be confident that they understand you and that you are effectively communicating with them.
Praise the effort instead of the result
Children with SEND needs will all learn at different rates; instead of focusing on whether the child has completed the task or the amount of time it took them to complete it, positively reinforce the effort which was put into the task.
Even though a SEND teacher will spend the majority of time with their pupils, the child may come into contact with other members of staff including lunch time or office staff.
All members of staff must be aware of how to manage and respond to the needs of the child.
If you set rules with a child, all members of staff should be aware of them to provide consistency for the child.
It goes without saying that a good SEND teacher should be able to communicate effectively with their pupils. The children should have a clear understanding of what the teacher is saying and what they are being asked to do.
If the teacher has a lot of information to convey, they might need to break the information into smaller bitesize chunks.
Communication could include anything from body language to facial expressions to signing and the spoken word.
When speaking with a SEND child, try to address them by their name. By referring to them as ‘children,’ ‘pupils,’ ‘students’ or ‘everyone,’ they might not be aware that you are referring to them.
Create a constructive learning environment
Children with SEND needs could have a wide range of behavioural or learning difficulties including ADHD, autism or dyslexia. For children who might be easily distracted, you should aim to provide a learning environment which is constructive to their needs.
This could mean that you need to remove distractions for the easily distracted or enhance the environment for those who require extra stimulation.
Provide a safe space for ‘time out’
Children with SEND needs might need to take some ‘time out’ within the school day if they are feeling stressed or overwhelmed. You should provide a quiet and easily accessible area for the children to go to during this time.
If a child is feeling stressed or anxious, this is an area to help them, not punish them.
Encourage children to build healthy friendships
It’s important that SEND children can build relationships, interact and communicate effectively with fellow pupils to learn essential skills. Relationships should be healthy and facilitate independence. If the friend is absent from the class, the SEND pupil should not feel negatively affected by their absence.
The child should also be able to look towards other pupils as role models. Good role models will provide a stable and supportive influence for them.
Keep the children focused
It’s important that a SEND pupil always has something to do and that they are aware of what is expected of them. If the child becomes stuck or is waiting for the teacher's attention, they should have something else to do during this time to keep them focused.
Help children to understand their emotions
A good SEND teacher will help children to understand that sometimes you will have good days and sometimes you will have bad days. During those bad days, a great SEND teacher should be able to support them and help them to turn it around.
Listen to the needs of the child
One of the most important things which a SEND teacher can do is to listen to the needs of the child. In fact, it is a statutory requirement that the views and wishes of the child are taken into account when decisions are made about their SEN provision.
Rather than assuming how a child feels, ask the pupil to try and articulate their feelings. Ask them what they like, what they don’t like and what they struggle with. By truly understanding the pupil, the teacher will be able to build a healthy and effective teacher-pupil relationship.
Who is Spencer Clarke Group?
Formed in 2017, we're a multi-sector recruitment agency, specialising in a range of key disciplines including Education & SEND, offering permanent, temporary, contract and fixed term opportunities.
We currently specialise in 8 sectors:
Accountancy & Finance
Construction & Trades
Education & SEND
Health & Social Care
Interim & Executive
Technical & Engineering