Monday, 29 June 2015

Supporting At Risk Students- Some learning from Jenny Tebbutt's workshop

Today I attended a course created and presented by Jenny Tebbutt about supporting at risk students in a mainstream environment. There were many valuable tidbits for me as a teacher to consider and apply to my programme going forward which is always a good thing. If you get a chance to have time with Jenny I thoroughly recommend it. 
Different learners have different strengths... think about the strengths your students possess.
A visual summary of some of the learning from today. 

The theory behind what she shared was even more valuable, it made sense and helped me to clarify my thinking. The basic theory introduced and discussed was focused on different groups within our classrooms spoken about as waves- 

  • Wave 1- our learners who are confident and competent learners 
  • Wave 2- our learners who are a little behind in their learning but with remedial programmes focused on building skills within curriculum areas can make significant improvement
  • Wave 3- our learners with specific learning differences such as dyslexia and autism 
  • Wave 4- our learners who qualify for specifically funded support due to severe learning or behavioural needs
The focus of the session was on addressing the needs of the Wave 3 learners as Jenny suggested that remedial programmes often do not address the specific underlying cognitive processing needs for these learners. So one solution offered was to address classroom teaching practice, taking on effective teaching practices for dyslexics which it is suggested improves outcomes for all learners... it is about teaching for DIVERSITY. 

Some questions to reflect on when considering teaching for diversity: 
  • Are we playing to the strengths of our learners? Do they get to pursue their passions? How do you support them with their weaknesses? 
  • How do we address VAKPOINT (visual, auditory, kinaesthetic, print oriented learning styles) in our teaching to provide a multi sensory learning environment? Glenn Capelli has some great resources around this. 
  • How well do you know about the learning needs of your students? (Consider BEES- Behaviour, Educational, Emotional, Social)
  • What other information can you gain from running records? Think about visual errors, substitutions, omissions etc. 
  • What structures do we have to support our learners? Think about your routines and learning environment... it is suggested that for 3rd Wave learners structure is vital to security in learning. 
  • Are you explicit in your teaching? Do you use WALTS or success criteria? Do they know why they are learning what they are learning? 
  • Are you teaching your learners skills and strategies so they can be self managing? Do they know how to use a highlighter to support their learning? What about mind mapping, brainstorming, using thinking tools, memory strategies etc? (For more information about these strategies check out Karen Boyes' Study Skills resources and courses) 
  • What supports are you providing for your learners? How are you accommodating for differences? 
  • How are you engaging with whanau (family) and the community to support learners? 
  • How do you ensure that learners have ample opportunities to practice and improve? 
  • How much feedback do you give to your 3rd Wave learners? It is suggested that we give these learners more feedback and feed forward so they know what their next steps are. 
  • How does the learning environment cater for different learning preferences? 
There is a lot to consider but as Jenny suggested what we are really aiming for is to make best practice common practice and that's what all our learners rightly deserve. 


  1. I love the questions - great for all learner waves I suspect! Love the "make best practice common practice" quote! Thanks for sharing :-)

  2. I agree Karen, definitely useful questions for us all :)