What does research say about SEND classroom practices and how can you support a beginning teacher to implement best practice?

In this section, we consider more specific research about working with pupils with SEND in science lessons. It is important for a beginning teacher to consider planning for pupils with SEND more broadly, because (i) being prepared for every individual SEND would be challenging, and arguably an unnecessary task, since (ii) there will be individual differences amongst pupils with a similar conditions and (iii) suggestions for teaching pupils with SEND share many features with high-guality teaching for all pupils. Moreover, Davis, Florian and Ainscow (2004) conducted a literature review and concluded that there was no single strategy for teaching pupils with SEND, nor were there recommended methods for particular groups of pupils with SEND. Therefore, it would be beneficial to support a beginning teacher you are mentoring to adopt a manageable number of teaching strategies in their planning to have an effective impact on pupils' learning across the different categories of SEND in a full class context. Three useful strategies are discussed below.

Experiential learning

Kang and Martin (2018) investigated the impact of engaging beginning science teachers in experiential learning to improve learning opportunities for pupils with SEND. They suggested that any opportunity that can be given to the beginning teacher to teach science to pupils with SEND outside the classroom not only helps them to see that experiential learning improves attitudes towards the learning of science by pupils with a wide range of learning needs, but also enhances pupils' interest in science and their feeling of competency in the subject. The beginning teacher could adapt/adopt an experiential learning context, highlighted by Kang and Martin (2018), such as a visit to a science fair, including activities tailored to specific needs. While supporting planning an experiential learning context, in this way, you need to remind the beginning teacher that embedding experiential learning could be a challenge for them, but it is important to embed in their practice, as it provides opportunity to connect all pupils with science without the challenges that a traditional classroom setting may pose them and can be of benefit to the full range of pupils, not just those with SEND. You might like to revisit Chapter 18, which provides some useful mentoring steps in supporting a beginning teacher (Chen) to plan and conduct a science field trip as an enrichment activity. The mentoring steps mentioned in Chapter 18 could be tailored to make reasonable adjustments for pupils with SEND.

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