Special education needs: Teachers trained to strengthen learning experience for children

Twenty-one special education needs (SEN) teachers of children with autism have benefitted from a training workshop held at the National Centre for Educational Resource Development (NCERD) to impart fresh knowledge on bettering their engagement.

Teachers engaged in the training exercise

This initiative was a collaborative action between the Special Education Needs (SEN) Unit and Childlink Inc, through the “One Life Too” Project. It featured teachers of children with autism in special and mainstream schools.
National SEN Officer Savvie Hopkinson reminded teachers of the need to grapple with, and refresh, their knowledge of the learning process, for it is not always the same for everyone, and learning can happen in a variety of ways.
Explaining that learning doesn’t always come easily, she stated that, often, obstacles must be overcome in order for new knowledge to be gained.
She reminded participants to be cognizant of environmental challenges, such as access to learning opportunities and other aspects of the learning environment. Additionally, students with special education needs and disabilities learn differently.
Further, she encouraged participants to embrace the maxim “all children can learn”, because this professional conviction is vital, and must permeate the minds of teachers and be present in classrooms. It is the single factor that compels the teacher to reflect on presentation, methodology, differentiation, and to treat respectably those who learn differently.
Moreover, it is the conviction that has compelled SEN teachers to expel pejorative descriptors and destructive labelling from their minds, and never to speak or apply them to their students.
Director of ChildLink, Omattie Madray, and “One Life Too” Project Coordinator Samantha Hutson, represented the organization which has been a pillar in the training programmes throughout the life of the project.
Hutson stated that as someone working with parents and children with disabilities, she has learned to be more accepting and to practise consideration when engaging with people.
“Often time, you would hear that a child is at this age or grade at school and does not know to read or write their own name, and immediately the blame falls on the teacher, without any consideration that the child may have a learning disability or have other things going on at home that are preventing the child from making progress,” she said.
She further said that it is the hope of Childlink that through these continuous training collaborations, teachers would have the tools needed to further help children, while also giving guidance to parents.
The workshop sessions were facilitated by SEN Officers Ms. Gale Layne Blue, who delivered on “Inclusive Classrooms and the Teacher” and “Student Collaborations”, and Ms. Yolanda Trotman Phillips, who engaged participants on “Embracing Diversity.”
Participants included in the training were attached to New Amsterdam Special School, David Rose Special School, Diamond Special Needs School, Beterverwagting SEND Centre, Schoonard Learning Centre for Diverse Needs, Linden Resource Centre for Special Needs, Amelia’s Ward Primary, Vreed-En-Hoop Primary and Gifted Hands Learning Centre.