Author: Gemma Kenny, Former SEN Teacher and Google Trainer at Wizkids
As a trainer who has been working closely with teachers throughout the school closures of 2020 and into this year, I am asked frequently about accommodating Special Education Needs (SEN) Students in addition to the Safeguarding measures surrounding this area.
As a former SEN teacher prior to the Coronavirus Pandemic, I can only comment on how difficult providing remote teaching and learning is. SEN students often require more support, direct instruction and 1:1 care, which has been difficult, if not impossible, to maintain during school closures.
However, there are ways that educators can improve and maintain their SEN teaching and safeguarding during school closures, through the use of online tools.
Top Tips for Safeguarding During Distance Learning
Safeguarding for Google Classroom
Try to have a second adult present in the Google Classroom, this may be an SEN teacher, the class TA, a member of school leadership or another teacher within the school. The secondary adult is there primarily to ensure there is an ‘extra set of eyes’ over the classroom – just to be on the safe side!
Use the settings within Google Classroom to keep you in control. Decide if you want to allow students to make posts or comment or not. Every teacher has their own viewpoint on this, just be aware and know who to contact if something were to go wrong.
Safeguarding for Instant Chat in School
Instant chat is a great resource for communicating with students in regards to their learning. You can enable it within Google Classroom. However please refer to your school policies in regards to distance and initial learning. Alternatively, please speak you your school designated safeguarding lead (DSL).
Safeguarding for Video Chats in School
Check your schools’ updated policies in regards to remote learning and if video chats are permitted.
Consider the following: video on or off? Will you mute students’ microphones during lessons? If the video is on, please consider your background, try to make it as neutral as possible, if there is a bookcase behind you, are there any books, decorations or photos that may not be appropriate for students?
Do not have video chats from bed or anywhere that may look compromising. If a bed is the only place you can work, try to not lay down looking ready to take a nap after your lesson! I know this is an obvious one, but I have heard a lot of stories over the past year. I always mention this, just in case!
You can make pre-recorded lessons through Google Meet and share these to your Google Classroom. This is a great way to have students watch and rewatch lesson content. This gives you more time to attend to students and their questions or distributing work.
….In a nutshell, remember, your privacy is just as important as your students. It is important to remain professional and to remind students this is a time for learning not a time for them to ask personal questions regarding your house, its location or who or who isn’t in it!
Special Educational Needs (SEN)
SEN Staffing During Distance Learning
Add an SEN teacher(s) to each class where a student normally works with SEN teachers. Alternatively, ask the teacher or IT manager in your school to set up your own Google Classroom where those students can be added. You may wish to have one classroom or a classroom per Key stage, whatever works best for you, Google Classrooms are unlimited!
Collaborative worksheets, Google Docs, Sheets and Slides can replicate the feeling of sitting down with a student and helping them with tasks. These tools have live editing capabilities which means everyone with access to the worksheet can see changes happening in real-time.
You can ease the teacher workload through Google Drive. Users can transfer part/whole (depending on images and formatting) Word documents, Powerpoint presentations and Excel spreadsheets into Google Docs, Slides or Sheets. This means you can still use your past lessons and tasks to support your students.
Make Assessments Engaging
Use Google Forms, it’s a great way to make assessment engaging and supportive. You can use Forms to create quizzes and surveys and it’s very user friendly, you can also add photos and videos to them.
Gemma provides training to school staff on all things Google. If you or your staff need extra help with G Suite for Education you can get in touch with gemma by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch with Wizkids below:
If you’d like to read more about what G Suite for Education, assistive technology for Special Educational Needs (SEN) Teaching, check out our latest posts: