I teach at Tettenhall Wood School in Wolverhampton, a special school with 97 pupils. It is the local authority's dedicated autism spectrum disorder unit. My current role is acting phase leader for pupils aged 11-19, but I also teach a class of six 14- to 16-year-olds.
My work day starts at 8.20am, after I've ensured that my own boys, who are 14 and 16, are up, showered and ready for school. Once I arrive at Tettenhall, my teaching assistant and I prepare the classroom for the day. This involves displaying a visual timetable, which is vital because our students rely on structure: if this basic resource is not available, it can send some of them into crisis mode.
At 8.45am, we meet the students at their transport. We want to encourage independence so we simply greet them and let them walk to the classroom by themselves.
During the morning I receive some of my management release time, so one of our higher level teaching assistants takes my class. We work together closely: I provide the medium-term planning with learning objectives, outcomes and assessment opportunities, and she creates inspiring and engaging lessons for the pupils to participate in.
My morning is spent on tasks such as contacting local employers to set up work experience placements for our older students, which involves site visits and completing a risk assessment. Despite the students' special educational needs, we want them to be able to contribute to society.
I am currently negotiating with post-16 college providers to offer suitable placements so that our students can obtain qualifications. Excitingly, I've just secured a wonderful programme of study at Telford College of Arts and Technology.
At 12.30pm I go to lunch. I always have some downtime because it is important for my well-being, and I usually pop into the staffroom to chat with colleagues. It's a chance to hear about the wonderful things going on in their classrooms, but equally my presence allows them an informal opportunity to sound off at a member of the senior leadership team.
In the afternoon I like to teach the core subjects myself. I also help the students to work towards their individual targets. One of my non-verbal pupils is developing their communication to a three-word level using the Grid Player iPad app. They press buttons to say things such as "It is sunny" or "I like apples".
Being in class is my favourite part of the day. I adore the interaction with the students - helping them to master new skills gives me a buzz.
At 3pm we take the students to their transport, but my day usually ends whenever our site manager kicks me out. After the students have gone, I record my observations from the day and use them to adjust my lesson plans.
I am president of the Wolverhampton branch of the NUT, so before heading home I often attend a union meeting. But, however my day ends, I will feel as I did at the beginning: happy to work at such an amazing school with wonderful governors, colleagues, parents and, above all, students.
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