Yes, I can: Special Needs Students and Inclusive Education

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Special needs is an umbrella term for a staggering array of diagnoses: physical (e.g. muscular dystrophy, chronic asthma, epilepsy), developmental (e.g. dyslexia, processing disorder, autism), behavioural/emotional (e.g. ADHD, oppositional defiance disorder, panic attacks), and sensory impaired (e.g. blind, visually impaired, limited hearing). Understanding the characteristics of special needs and their implications for behaviour, learning and the ability to process information is critical for anyone working or interacting with special needs students. This course will give participants a fundamental understanding of different special needs diagnosis, planning inclusive lessons, creating inclusive school environment, teacher’s emotions and attitudes working with special needs students and working with parents.

The main objective of the course is to prepare participants to work effectively with different special needs:
- While teaching other subjects
- For working with parents
- For creating inclusive school environment for all learners
By the end of the course participants will have a substantial understanding of different special needs characteristics and consequences for learning. They will also practice to use evidence-based practices to provide effective interventions and explore typical strengths and weaknesses of individuals with special needs. The course will address the specifics of working with parents of students with special needs and creating inclusive school environment.

The course is designed as an interactive process with emphasis on establishing a mentor relationship between participants and trainer. The format of the course is didactic, experiential, and interactive along with discussions, individual and team exercises. The focus is on experiential learning and workshop approach. The participants will also see examples of inclusive education for special needs students in Slovenian education system.

Introductory meeting, explanation of practical arrangements, presentation of timetable, information about course venue.

-Understanding differences: this part provides an overview of different types of special needs including physical, developmental, emotional/behavioural, and sensory impaired. The emphasis will be on introducing the consequences for teaching and learning and making effective contact with students with special needs.
Patterns of strengths and weaknesses: participants will learn about strengths and weaknesses amongst special needs students, especially as these pertain to learning differences.
- Special needs of the physically and sensory impaired students and their learning process. The emphasis will be on introducing the consequences for teaching and learning and making effective contact with them. Design and development of learning material: we use the term “universal design” to emphasize the inclusive design of instruction to make it meaningful and useful for all students. We will also look at best practices for documents such as using clear fonts, organizing text with headings, and describing images with alternative text.

Cultural evening.

The phenomena we will briefly look into are: hyper- and hypo- reactivity, autistic spectrum, body awareness, ability to focus, aggression, depression, defiance, psychosomatics, as well as traumatic experiences, early relational trauma, and transgenerational family role and pattern transmission. We will consider how they affect the learning process and the relationships with peers and teachers. Once the students’ underlying and invisible experiencing is better understood, their possible strong emotional and behavioural reactions to situations can also be seen and experienced by the teachers and caregivers in a different way, thus making the adults and even schoolmates more successful in their prevention and coping strategies.

Best practices in inclusive education, benchmarking and exchange among participants.
Half day excursion.

Creating an inclusive school environment: participants discuss the process used for deciding on reasonable accommodations for students with special needs. We identify specific accommodations that students with special needs might need in order to fully participate in broader life at the school.
Working with parents: parents’ perceived competence, parents’ attitudes and beliefs towards school, communication with parents (discussing concerns, listening, producing written information), involvement of parents in school life and their child’s learning.

To be able to help the special need students and their schoolmates in creating an inclusive school environment, tolerating and appreciating differences, each other’s personal space, and promoting positive behaviour, teachers (and parents) need sufficient self-care, supervision, and supportive peer and home environment. Teachers’ professional and personal growth, the availability of support for it, and the motivation for it, might be the most important factor in dealing with these challenges in classrooms. In working with parents, their perceived competence, their attitudes to school, family relationships, and past experiences regarding difficulties and getting help, are all important to consider, as well as how the responsibilities and guilt are being distributed.

Key learning points. Planning follow up activities, dissemination and implementation of learning outcomes. Discussing possibilities for future cooperation among participants.

* Some changes in the programme are possible. The participants will receive the Informational Booklet a few weeks prior to the start of the course. ​

Course organiser
Primera Courses
Ljubljana, Slovenia

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