Being in a new school is always exciting and challenging, and this year has been no different. I’m in a completely new terrain though, so I feel the need to update you on my new setting, so-to-speak.
My school is a special school for children with learning disabilities (severe ones, so that children usually “fail” in the regular system). The disability range is rather broad and fluid though.
I have taken over a year 5/6 class with another teacher and we currently have 14 students. We are only in the class together for 4 lessons a week, but it is good to know we are working together even if we are not. The way we have arranged this so far is that while we both cover all subjects in a manner of speaking, my focus is English, Math and Art and her focus is German and Social Studies/Science. I have taken over the idea of working on a “big idea” (quite like a central idea in the PYP) based around concepts for a certain amount of time. So far, it is rather “interdisciplinary” approach, but it is, in my opinion, already quite well established in the class.
On top of teaching my class, I also teach grades 8 and 10, in a number of combinations. I have the grade 8 girls for sex ed, a mixed grade 8 class (there is grade 8a and 8b, and they are mixed up) for English and once I have grade 8a for English as well. Can you imagine how that is for planning? Yeah…
In grade 10 I have a boys and a girls group and I teach English in those groups.
So far, those classes have been my main challenge, as they are way out of my comfort zone. But, I have to admit that I love working with them as well. One of the perks of a special school is that I get to work across the age range. I am still unsure what I think of excluding some children from the state school system (but a post on this will inevitably follow), but the educational approach is SO MUCH BETTER. There is time for development, time for creativity and generally a lot less “have-to-do”s. The curriculum is barely a framework and the knowledge component is hard to define, as students are all capable of different things. I currently have students in my class that are working with numbers up to 20, some work up to 100 and others beyond 1000. It’s hard work, but seemingly I have sussed this out with Math.