Getting to know students takes time, but so worth it
Getting to know you
I started teaching at a wonderful SEN school in the Midlands at the start of this term, each week I teach 88 students, ages ranging from 6 to 16 years old. The children have a range of challenges including those who are PMLD and SLD, I have had to remember 88 names and start to get to know each individual, which takes time!!
One of the first things I discovered in my new role was that I need an incredible amount of material to work with. It seems that a series of short, focused and participatory exercises requires a lot of strong ‘starting points’ to work with. I am now getting used to this and vary things roughly along the lines, of ‘listen, play, dance, sing’ which rotates. So far so good.
Getting to know individuals really does take time, but it is so worth it, as you find out the student’s interests and activities they enjoy it becomes so much easier to engage with them. I have also learnt what some of the students really don’t like (e.g. sudden loud sounds) and this is very useful to know also. A few years back I received some training via Bamboozle Theatre, who asked parents to come in and talk to artists about their children and how to really get to know them. I had worked with one little girl for quite a while, and still felt I didn’t know her, or how to interact with her to really engage her in the music.
The information her mum gave was invaluable; she explained that for ‘Mary’ (name changed) she expressed her enjoyment or dislike of activities by rolling her tongue. I could never have known that without her mum’s input, and once I did know this I really felt I got to know Mary and was able to understand if she was enjoying the music activity or not, and helped me to really ‘make friends’ with Mary.
I am finding at the school that I am beginning to get to know each student and looking for the small signals that help to express their feelings. Also talking with the staff who know the students well to ensure I get to know as much about each young person as I can to ensure I am able to really engage with them, and get to know them properly. I am sure this experience will really help in all my work with the NMPAT musical inclusion team and looking forward to getting to know the young people we are working with. www.nmpat.co.uk