Age of Awareness
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Age of Awareness

The Guide

I want to write about this guide in the most serious way, and in no way put a spin on my exposé. I will not use metaphors or subtle suggestions, not even mention the greatest Guide of them all (the hitchhiker's one…to the Galaxy, of course!). This will be the driest article, but there will be some illustrations to break the desert of text.

The first part of the Teachers’ Guide (‘The Guide’) is the same as the other two (for directors, for NGOs and parents), which presents the terminology and environment of inclusion and inclusive principles when it comes to education. It defines the vulnerable groups as well as specifics of each learning difficulty (LD). I can say that the first part is the universal theoretical background that each person who is a potential stakeholder of the vast project Transition to Inclusion should be aware of and familiar with. What I am going to concentrate in this article is the second part, which is specifically targeted at teachers. It is important to stress that the contents and attitude of The Guide suggests that it is mainly targeted at Primary and Secondary school teachers, which are the Head teachers to the students with LDs. The Guide is in French, so my paraphrasing will not be literal, but I willsupply the exact French text occasionally.

The role of the teacher

This is how The Guide begins, by explicitly suggesting the teachers to change themselves. The teacher should have a healthy attitude towards inclusion and understand, accept, that every child CAN learn, it is the methodology that will enable or disable him. Practical measures to sensitize the teachers in the realm of inclusion are:

o Work on self-development

o Planning that focuses on all needs

o Adaptation of teaching methods

o Create different learning opportunities

o Communication with colleagues and stakeholders who support inclusion

The Guide acknowledges that it will be difficult to change the ‘old ways’ of teaching, but the teacher has to change the paradigm of teaching methods, contents and evaluation to adjust to different needs. (p.35) The teacher should:

o Consider diversity of students as a resource to enrich the education

o Engage with all students to bring up their potential

o Cooperate with others

o Pursue professional training to update and upgrade your teaching methods

In their endeavors to transition towards inclusion, the teacher has to collaborate with the director to mobilize all necessary partners (p.41):

o Family — to ensure the student gets necessary care

o With other students: encourage diversity and teamwork

o Teachers: to share experiences

o Specialists and local council members

o Parent groups

How to create an inclusive classroom

Then the guide goes on to describe how to set in place the inclusive classroom. This is a fairly physical instruction, concerned about the layout, material, furniture, etc. The planning instructions related to how to create this classroom are fairly theoretical, and without any examples, let alone visual representations.

The management of constructing an inclusive environment is laid out in many steps (p.46). The teacher should initiate the adaptation of the classroom, according to the students’ LDs. This process of reorganization should be flexible and promote diversity. The classroom sections should be functional so that all the students participate in all activities and projects, yet they reflect the uniqueness and diversity of the students.

Differentiation and Evaluation

A diagram is displayed to explain the branches of differentiation: teaching methods, content, evaluation. This is in a nutshell a repetition from previous chapters, only paraphrased and presented in a different way. The teaching methods should be adapted to the specifics of each LD, the students’ tempo and style of learning. Contents and activities should motivate the students and be relevant to them. The mode of evaluation should be compatible with the nature of activity and the level of learning. The evaluation can be continuous, periodical and final (at the end of the learning period), and it can be focused on the process, the planning stages and the final outcome of the assignment/task/project. Then The Guide gives quite a straightforward outline about how to carry out the student evaluation. (p.50)

Individual Educational Program

There is a lot of space given to this concept and how to design it. It is an individual program for the LD student, created in cooperation with specialists and stakeholders. The resource they give for the principles of IEP is a Togolese document, and I will quote the complete extract here (p.52):

Quelques principes du projet pédagogique individuel :

- Être au service du progrès de l’apprenant.e dans son apprentissage scolaire.

- Être capable de créer l’intérêt et le dynamisme de l’apprenant/e, de la famille et des enseignant.e.s.

- S’appuyer sur l’idée que tout le monde est capable de retrouver l’envie d’apprendre et de progresser.

- S’appuyer sur les compétences et les acquisitions pour les développer et les renforcer de manière de manière progressive en rapport avec le quotidien.

- Être un facteur d’équité : n’oublier aucun.e apprenant.e, notamment celles et ceux qui ont un niveau inférieur.

Manuel de formation en éducation inclusive, République Togolaise, Ministère des enseignements primaire, secondaire et de l’alphabétisation, p : 95.

These are the inclusion principles, if I may comment at this point.

I will not go into detail as to how this is presented and explained, because it applies to primary school teachers, and how they can decide (with specialist’s support) up to which level they will teach particular subjects to students with LDs.

Class instruction and styles

After the extensive elaboration on the Individual Programs, The Guide tackles the types of classroom instruction (p.59). It goes on to affirm, and reaffirm, that teaching can be done in pair work, individually or students can be divided in small groups. One refreshing segment is when two sample activities were given and a different type of classroom instruction demonstrated.

After reiterating on classroom organization and a segment on organizing the material accommodations (p.64–65), The Guide deals with creating a classroom profile, in addition to the LD student profile (p.67–70). They reason that by saying that the teacher should know their students and will easily choose the projects and tasks if she knows their interests, strengths and weaknesses. It is also important to build team spirit of the classroom, which will help include the LD students.

Lesson Planning

And this is finally, where The Guide mentions more practical applications of the inclusion policy (p.74–75). Although it is targeted mainly to Primary School teachers, the guidelines may be extrapolated and applied to any other teaching context (p.75):

les activités du domaine d’apprentissage soient réalisées de manière systématique, en tenant compte de l’accent mis sur l’acquisition du comportement ou des compétences de l’apprenant.e. pour qu’il puisse passer progressivement de ce qui est tangible et personnalisé à la construction du concept visé par la leçon. Pour atteindre cet objectif, il est possible d’adopter trois moments de travail interdépendants dans la leçon.

o Moment d’observation et de découverte Il vise principalement à attirer l’attention et à susciter la motivation de l’apprenant.e à connaître le sujet pour l’aborder avec curiosité en émettant des hypothèses, qui serviront d’entrée aux activités d’apprentissages suivantes.

o Moment de manipulation et de construction Il s’agit d’une action organisée et dirigée dans laquelle l’apprenant.e est pleinement impliqué.e dans le travail manuel et intellectuel, avec ce que cela implique comme contrôles nécessitant coopération, intégration et partage avec des pairs, dans le cadre d’une action différentielle ou collective.

o Moment d’application et d’investissement Il s’agit de consolider ce qui a été identifié et acquis par l’apprenant.e et de le transférer dans des situations et des attitudes nouvelles pour vérifier le degré de maitrise de l’objectif d’apprentissage visé et le changement du comportement escompté.

The accommodations according to the type of LD are also given (p.79):

And it is easy to see that all these guidelines are very broad and not subject-specific. They are purely pedagogic and directed to the teacher’s attitude towards the learning process. Nevertheless, they are an excellent foundation on which each subject-teacher can then build their specific techniques.

The next pages are also dedicated to different kinds of accommodations, mostly broad ones like above, mentioning the self-esteem and socialization. However, there is also a cognitive accommodation which reads (p.81):

La remédiation cognitive

C’est l’ensemble des techniques de nature corrective visant à développer des fonctions cognitives incomplètes chez des personnes souffrant de troubles cognitifs, d’accidents cérébraux ou de troubles particuliers (autisme, dyslexie …), le bon emploi des opérations mentales facilitant l’apprentissage et l’acquisition (mémoire, attention, connaissance sociale). Ces techniques sont également utilisées dans le domaine de l’école au profit des apprenant.e.s victimes de difficultés scolaires causées par des troubles fonctionnels au niveau de l’activité mentale ou de relations affectives et sociales. Ce type de remédiation compte trois entrées essentielles interdépendantes, visant le développement et l’amélioration.

Finally, (p.83), The Guide tells us how to recognize learning difficulties, causes, and gives practical measures to reduce them, which are more or less general good teaching, education, and parenting practices.

Reviewing The Guide as a teacher of EFL in a non-mainstream (‘regular’) school, who is mainly interested in teaching dyslexic students, I must first admit that I am impressed at the amount of work some people invested to put together this extensive publication. Moreover, three variations, each designed for different stakeholders. It is seemingly pivotal that the awareness of inclusion is spread and that the schools start making the transition, even if it is mostly material (building ramps). The Moroccan society is in general fairly silent when it comes to diversity. There is also the evident need for teachers to change their methods the ‘lecture style’ of instruction to pair work or small groups instruction, and this is somehow seen as a possibility of overcoming or dealing with LDs. Although it might be useful to some head teachers in Primary Schools, I find The Guide fairly useless, superficial and annoyingly repetitive. They give a lot of similar information, shades of meaning and variations of same concepts under different terminology and perspectives. They are not practical (most of the chapters) nor do they give examples of case studies, or sample cases (with only one exception). Although there is a superficial description of differentiation, there is no mentioning of Multisensory Structured Learning, or any classroom technique that might be useful for teachers. However, the Individual Program principles are quite similar to the MSL: highly structured, cumulative, progressive and with continuous evaluation and adaptation.

This opens a lot of space for professional training and further subject-specific education of teachers in the forthcoming years.

For more teaching tips — EFL for poor readers and dyslexic students — see https://alc-poor-readers.weebly.com/activities

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Martina Matejas

Martina Matejas

English teacher, yoga instructor, massage therapist and much more. Life in Morocco gives fresh perspective on all the weird accumulated experiences.