THIS WEEK: Working with the ‘special needs’ of each child and how we do that at LIONS Self Defence & Leadership Martial Arts in Leicester.
#TipTuesday Post 11
There are many teaching styles and each teacher has their own way based on their personality and experience.
Some styles are best suited to teach infants, others to teach teens and others still to teach adults.
I make it a practice to read books and attend seminars on teaching principles to better myself and bring those learning to the LIONS student experience.
There are two key things that I have discovered from some European teaching methods.
1) make the learning process interactive / fun
2) understand each students individual needs
Making the process interactive / fun –
In today’s world, kids are used to being in control of their experiences. For example video games allow kids to be in control of their entertainment, computers and tablets allow kids to be in control of the content they consume etc. In school however most kids are taught passively which is contrary to how they experience everything else and therefore is a shock to the system. The New York City Department of Education has teamed up with the MacArthur Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to create a school called ‘Quest to Learn’ which is centred around game-based learning. The intent of this school is to make education more engaging and relevant to modern kids.
Working from the same premise I took the martial arts learning experience away from the traditional (and somewhat mundane BUT TOTALLY NECESSARY) repetitive moves and put them into a ‘gameified’ system at LIONS. That is to say that the moves and concepts at LIONS are taught through high energy drills and games. This disguises repetition and keeps the kids attention so they enjoy the process of learning life saving self defence and safety skills.
Understanding each students individual needs
The words “special needs” or “learning difficulties” have become tainted in the school system. In Finland most educators view every student as having special needs. Meaning, that instead of teaching 1 class of 20 they teach 20 individuals and understand that each students individual / special needs and adapt their classes and teaching to best serve their students. THAT IS POWERFUL!!!
So the teacher understands each students special need (what their goals are, what their strengths and weaknesses are, what they most want to learn, what they are good at etc.). At the same time they understand each students learning difficulties (what they are not so good at, what they find challenging, what they find frustrating etc.).
After learning this I have worked hard to reframe my understanding of the terms special needs and learning difficulties from something negative to very positive concepts that need not have anything to do with physical or cognitive disabilities.
Furthermore, I have many students who have been diagnosed with ADHD, dyslexia, autism etc and their parents have specifically sought me out to work with their kids either 1-2-1 or as a part of the class (sometimes they have been turned away from other activities or martial arts schools – which is never OK!). I think one of the reasons they seek to work with me is because I don’t treat anyone differently because of a label that they have been given. Rather, I acknowledge the need they have which has been identified and seek to find ways to alter my teaching and lesson to best serve them. It is my firm belief that every student should be honoured, respected and nurtured based on their own needs for their own progression.
At LIONS I have been utilising this teaching method for some time now. While it takes significantly longer to assess each student every lesson and the plan lessons based on the individuals needs the return is that nobody gets left behind and every students needs are met! EVERYONE DEVELOPS to their full potential and that makes every second worth it!