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Another week has gone by and after doing our observations, this week I dedicated some time and asked the Head some questions about the school culture in general, from which I have discovered very interesting information.
Today in a particular lesson all students were very involved, attentive and interested. I liked the fact that they helped each other and they seemed to like the topic. This could be because the teacher had such a close and warm relationship with them and spoke with lots of patience and care. S/he went around each one of them to check that they were doing their class work correctly and giving individual attention to those who needed it. This, I believe, was highly important since it was evident that the students were made to feel appreciated and it was much easier for them to build a good bond with the teacher. The teacher may have done this maybe to help them understand better the concept and eventually attain a higher mark. What might also have interested the students was the fact that they were not writing down notes like usual; but, they were discussing and scathing down different solutions in class, which was different for them. Furthermore, they were allowed to speak quietly with each other, and this made them feel that they still had a little more freedom than in other lessons, which, I personally believe, was vital for students to develop a love for school.
The same friendly atmosphere was evident with the form four class. There is this great relationship between the students and their teacher, the students being even more at ease and able to express themselves on anything even on personal matters. This made me reflect on the kind of relationship that the teacher should have in class, with each and every student. If there is an autistic student should the teacher adopt the principle of flexibility? I think that the teacher should be flexible up to a certain point. I believe that the teacher should act normally to any strange behaviour from this particular child. I do not think that the teacher should stop him, so the student will not feel abnormal or unwelcome but treat him as a normal student and try to involve him as much as possible. However, this should always be in a way that you have control and management in the class. The child’s class mates should be encouraged to look on him as a normal child, who however, needed some special type of attention. Despite all this, his/her condition should be treated very seriously and as an educator one should help him control his emotions by giving him ‘sensory breaks’. This includes allowing the child to go out of the classroom to do some exercise to calm down his nerves. I think such matters should be discussed with the head or assistant head and the teacher should work hand in hand with the support teacher for the benefit of the child.
From today’s experience I realized what a great deal of patience and what a degree of flexibility one must have to be a good teacher. Every student has to be treated differently according to his/ her needs. After the observation, when I asked about school cultures I also asked about how autism is dealt with in this school. I was informed that in cases such as having autistic students, most often, the teachers are advised by the assistant head and by the student’s parents to adopt a different approach to tackle such difficult students. However, it is very important to keep in mind that preferential treatment is abhorrent and and counter productive and a level of discipline has always to be in force.
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