Assistant principal and TES Author, Penelope Earp (pearp), discusses the current challenges facing special education teachers and reveals her top tips for creating resources for students with learning needs
Tell us a bit about yourself.
As a teacher at a special needs school in Bondi, I work with students who have moderate to severe intellectual disabilities. While the school has both primary and secondary pupils, I focus on teaching secondary classes, as well as fulfilling my role as assistant principal.
What would you like teachers and students to experience when they use your TES resources in the classroom?
I would like teachers to feel that my resource is just what they needed; that it is the resource they would have created themselves if they had had the time.
For students, I want them to be able to use the materials to the best of their ability and also enjoy the lesson. I believe that work should never feel like work, or if it does, it should be only because the feelings of happiness attained when it’s all done and dusted are so significant.
What are some of the challenges that special education teachers face today?
It is the duty of any teacher to try to impart as much as they can to their students in the space of a six-hour school day. That is hard for any teacher of any age group, anywhere in the world, but it is even harder when lessons must be adapted for each student individually. With learners having a range of behavioural and health needs, making lessons accessible and valuable to all is a significant challenge in a classroom setting.
What are your top tips for teachers looking to create resources for students with educational needs?
Do not reinvent the wheel! Have a clear idea about what you want to create and keep things simple. If you have extra time, then look at making your resource aesthetically pleasing.
Building in assessment to measure progress is essential, as I believe that, ultimately, a teacher’s focus should be on student attainment.
Finally, test out your working documents with the students, be flexible and keep adapting the resource until you are happy.
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