25 May 2020
The Aspire Teaching License, an internal learning development program on Special Education Needs for the Academy teaching staff, is currently underway through online means due to COVID-19 and one its participants, Aspire Science teacher, Anthony Kariru shares his experiences. From the comfort of his home, Anthony has been ploughing through, modules, a range of practical and theoretical tasks and assignments as he studies towards a certified license.
“The Aspire Teaching License is a 12-week program which is dealing with Special Education Needs (SEN). Evidently as the course has progressed my awareness with regards to attitudes developed towards SEN students has been raised and this helps me identify any biases and prejudices, I may have had towards them,” says Anthony with the excitement he always carries with him.
I am sure l speak for many of my fellow teachers when l says, that decision to adjust the program to run online rather than postpone due to the stay at home situation brought about by the Coronavirus pandemic outbreak was a smart one. To be able to proceed with the program albeit as e-learning course brought about challenging but novel ways to taking the course.
While the environment of taking the course from home online seemed weird once the modules and teleconference lectures got underway, l found out this unconventional way of studying did not impinge the goal of the program at all. The online interaction with fellow teachers almost removed the distance between us. The program has seen us cover some of the Special Education Needs that include; Dyslexia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Visual and Hearing Impairments, Gifted and Talented Learners, Curriculum Enrichment, Inclusive Assessment Approaches, Assessment for Learning, Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Difficulties, Multicultural Influences among others.
The program has afforded me chance to learnt of other needs that may not be found at Aspire Academy like Dyspraxia: the inability to perform coordinated movements; or how to deal with students with physical impairments. Nevertheless, the strategies used to deal with the above students were very useful to me as a teacher. My favorite unit was dealing with student athletes who have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) as I had a student with ADHD this academic year. My biggest lesson was separating my judgement of his behavior from him as a student athlete. Other practical methods included having him seat closer to me in class and giving him more individualized attention during our distant learning sessions.
Another topic that struck a chord with me was, the Gifted and Talented Learners, Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Difficulties and Multicultural Influence sessions.
The fortnightly assignments could be tough and tricky but nevertheless Harun has always there to give me a helping hand, in the same vein I am grateful to Carla for posting my Grades diligently as soon as I have completed my assignments
Finally, the forums have been very enriching, and it has been a great pleasure interacting with my colleagues and learning from their great expertise as well. Indeed, the uncertain and turbulent environment created by COVID-19 might have been the dark clouds of this period but undertaking ATL program has certainly been the silver lining and l would like to thank Mr. Jassem Al Jaber the Principal of Aspire Academy and the entire Management team for facilitating this program. I cannot overemphasize how helpful this license will be to me as a professional teacher and thanks too to Dr. Akram for his hands-on work with the program, Ms. Carla Palmer and Mr. Jorn Erickson for assisting us with the course work.