Recently, we hosted a webinar with Dr Bellert, which focused on some of the key topics and considerations for teachers when teaching students with disabilities or additional learning needs. Below are some of the key takeaways and listen in to the podcast, which you can access and listen to for more information about this specialist area.
Dr Anne Bellert is a senior lecturer in inclusive education at Southern Cross University and the course coordinator for the online Master of Education. She is committed to achieving sustainable learning – learning for all, teaching that matters and learning that lasts.
She is a qualified primary school, special education teacher and consultant. who has worked in a wide range of school settings since the late 1990s. Dr Bellert has worked closely with classroom teachers, school executives and family members of students with disabilities to promote successful school transitions.
Learning for all
When it comes to students with disabilities or additional learning needs, Dr Bellert suggests teaching professionals should start with identifying students’ capabilities rather than their limitations. For example, if you have a student with Down syndrome in your class, there are many ways to provide this student with the best learning experience possible.
“I’m always a little bit cautious about labels as it focuses on what students can’t do, which leads to low expectations. We can’t make the assumptions that all students […] are the same. The language we use and the way we refer to people with a disability must always put the person first,” she explains.
Teaching that matters
It is important to make appropriate adjustments for any additional learning needs a student might have. If a student has a reading disability, for instance, you could prepare audio versions of a reading or use text-to-speech technology to help them learn.
Dr Bellert emphasises the importance of assessing whether children have understood a topic and achieved the learning outcomes of a lesson. To do this effectively, she recommends roughly grouping students into what stage they’re at, and what they need to know next according to the curriculum.
“Personalised learning is a way forward for teaching that matters. Personalised learning doesn’t mean that every student has to be taught individually. It is a matter of looking at the students and identifying what do they know now, and what do they need to know next.”
Learning that lasts
Today’s student population is diverse. Almost all students, at some point, may have needed support at school for a variety of reasons. Students may need emotional, learning or social support and if they have problems in any of these areas, it can affect their learning.
“It is essential for teachers to understand their students’ learning capabilities as well as their learning needs,’ Dr Bellert says.
“It is through building on those capabilities that you will be able to get students to engage. Student engagement is key, and I don’t think that’s an easy thing to achieve these days.”
So, how can teachers achieve inclusive teaching? Dr Bellert outlines an exclusive eight-step Responsive Teaching Framework in the podcast. If you’re looking to advance your teacher knowledge and become an educational leader, check out our online Master of Education.