Inclusion Online tutor Jodie Mattingley explains approaches to supporting students with disabilities and learning difficulties for teachers to implement in their classrooms.
Inclusion Online offers blended learning courses that focus on the understanding, assessment and classroom support of students with learning difficulties including dyslexia.
As a tutor for the Understanding Dyslexia and Significant Difficulties in Reading online course, Cardinia Primary School teacher Jodie Mattingley feels confident in addressing this difficulty in her classroom, as well as supporting other teachers and education support staff to implement the most evidence-based approaches and resources to create meaningful and achievable student growth.
She explains how the Inclusion Online course has helped her support struggling students and improve her understanding of dyslexia.
'I completed the Understanding Dyslexia and Significant Difficulties in Reading Online Course myself in early 2016,' said Jodie.
'I was initially attracted to the flexible online and face-to-face mode of delivery and being able to manage this around the commitments of my role. Then once I started it I really enjoyed the content.'
Understanding dyslexia in the classroom
One size does not fit all
'This course has broadened my understanding of dyslexia and has made me aware that there is no "one size fits all" approach for students with this difficulty. And sometimes it can be quite frustrating: you use all those strategies you feel are going to help with most students, but don't help with students with dyslexia. But that's OK.'
Developing my practice to suit the students
'This wasn't a completely new approach or a burden. Instead, it built on my practice as a teacher and gave me the right understanding of the condition.
'Because these students aren't getting the link between letters and sounds, I had to ask myself: "how can I help present their learning in different ways to build up their learning bit by bit?".
'The training also gave me access to great videos and resources where other teachers are actually demonstrating their practice. As a result, I've felt really confident in repeating what I've seen and using these evidence-based approaches in my own classroom.'
Confident in the right approach
'I feel a lot more confident with what I can say to parents when they think their child has dyslexia.'
'Where before, I would say, "I don't really know much about that"; now I can say I have done a course on dyslexia and I have a much stronger understanding of the condition.
'I feel confident in suggesting the next steps to parents: approaching the school's speech pathologist to get a definitive understanding of what's happening with their child, and how the school and parents will form a partnership to best assist that student going forward.
Supporting students with dyslexia
The Understand Dyslexia and Significant Difficulties in Reading online course offers practical approaches for teachers to implement to support students in their learning – particularly with regard to assessment strategies and tools that drive meaningful growth.
Setting SMART goals
'Goals can all too often be a bit vague and hard to measure. The Inclusion Online training has really given me a framework that I can work through with – not only my students with dyslexia, but all my students,' Jodie explains.
'SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-based – really focus you as a teacher to think about what you want the student to achieve.
'Sometimes, as teachers, we can set our goals too high and too broad because we want all our students to be achieving. But in doing so we're setting goals that aren't realistic or achievable for some students.
'It isn't fair to ask a student with dyslexia to be reading or approaching their literacy in the same way as other students. So, by setting specific and achievable goals that are realistic in the given timeframe, we can measure their growth clearly.
Gaining confidence through successful growth
'Seeing the growth through SMART goals gives teachers confidence that learning is taking place. It gives parents and students confidence. And it helps us to coordinate with the education support staff and speech pathologists who may be working with that student.
'Involving the student in these goals helps them take ownership of their learning and gives them confidence. This is particularly the case for Year 5s and Year 6s, where we can get them really engaged and use visual cues like a sticker chart or data wall to really let them own their learning intention and goals.
Build your inclusive practices through Inclusion Online
'The real beauty of the Inclusion Online courses is that it doesn't feel like a normal PD, where I leave the day with notes on a piece of paper and I've forgotten a bit of it. Instead, it's always there for me to dive right back in when I have a student with dyslexia to refresh my understanding of the condition and the teaching strategies I should be employing.'
'Try a course if you haven't already. Inclusion Online supports your current practice, and it makes you more confident about inclusion and working with students with additional needs or learning difficulties.
'Teachers are already making goals for students; you're already trying to address their individual needs and difficulties. The course will just help you build confidence in delivering this in the most evidence-based way and with the most recent research.
'You can take the content at your own pace and it sits in with your own life. Wherever you have internet you can be developing your inclusive education practice.'
Supporting FISO Priorities: Excellence in teaching and learning
Effective teaching is the single biggest determinant of student improvement at school. At the core of this Framework for Improving Student Outcomes (FISO) priority is the culture of collaboration and collective responsibility explored in each of these professional learning sessions, which develops effective and consistent teaching practices and improves student achievement for students of all abilities.
To learn more about this priority and its supporting dimensions, see: Excellence in teaching and learning