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The Balance of Time vs Need

The Balance of Time

October 2016

For the past week @NAPCE1 has had the pleasure of delivering SEND training to cohorts of trainee teachers. It was a learning experience for both that provided the opportunity for some real world research to be put into place. Baselining what was known by each individual on the ITT allows a marker as to the extent that a year of training in mainstream primary and secondary education will raise their experience and understanding of additional needs.

The fieriest part of each training session was the debate between exclusion vs. alternative provisions. For some, having to argue against their beliefs and adjust to the alternative perspectives was a battle within themselves. The majority of trainees had limited experience of additional needs and therefore feared the behavioural and time demands a child could place on them. I felt this was understandable, although the rest of the training was geared towards changing and experiencing perspectives. The first few years of teaching places such demand on each individual that any additional demands can be perceived as a ‘threat’ to add to that burden- as was frankly pointed out- ‘that’s life’.

This set an interesting pivot to the rest of the training. Where is the line that marks the quality of life balance between learning and living for both teacher and student?

The first key message was that everyone has individual needs. Some can be independently sort but most require additional support in one way or another and some needs take priority. The second was that communication is essential to learning and human development. And the third I received through feedback- that this was the first session that had talked about themselves rather than the classroom. Upon reflection, what I failed to stress was that communication between ourselves and our institutions (school and home) is key to ensure our own and other’s needs can find an equilibrium, or if not, empathy.

When it came to discussing trainees own personal needs, they first identified the three most important things in their life. All candidates included family in this. Some quoted themselves as already saying to their own children ‘I will probably be spending less time with you this year as I will be busy with school’. Reflection on this balance led the trainees to plan in quality family time, but it left me pondering on how we prioritise both in and out of the classroom.

The conclusion I came to is that it is time. How we use our time will determine our own satisfaction with how each day ends and how we can support our new teachers may be creating a little more time for them.

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