Someone else blogged on this recently, but I can’t remember who, please contact me and I’ll add a link if it was you.
The pupils that I teach are very special. They wouldn’t be at a school for sld pupils if they weren’t! They will go through life with a responsible adult always within shouting distance, and as a result learn to depend on those adults for everything, even things that they can do for themselves. This leads to a learned helplessness, where pupils won’t even try.
I try to run an independent classroom. Pupils are expected to do all of their self-help (dressing for swimming, ordering drinks in a cafe for instance) alone, or with verbal prompts if needed. I expect them to ask for help, they are all able to do this. When we are writing, I would like them to ‘write’ independently first, with staff then annotating or transcribing underneath as necessary. Pupils can then copy this so that they can practice further.
For some reason, it’s taking my class a lot longer to get to grips with this this year. I have pupils who won’t even mark make until an adult writes something they can either copy or overwrite. This does not reflect the p level that they are currently working at. I have pupils who suddenly cannot do up their coats, put things away, or get changed for swimming.
I think, in a way, this is happening because we too are being driven by targets. There’s so much to do in English lessons, we don’t have time. Also, (mostly?) because support staff have not been provided with the skills to help pupils appropriately. They want ‘perfect’ work, I want the pupil’s work. They want to rush the pupils on to the next stage, I’d rather they showered properly and got dressed independently. However, in a school where it seems that it has always been the done thing to produce work for the pupils, how do you set about changing that ethos?
In fact, I’m pretty sure that most of the pupils have had someone write and do for them since primary school, and will do again once they leave school, so some may ask why bother? That’s exactly the kind of defeatist attitude I’m trying to overcome.