Page 2185 - Week 07 - Thursday, 29 June 2023
time, a separate room to minimise distractions, a laptop to use in writing tasks, access to a scribe or note-taker, and even relief breaks.
Although these are great adjustments to have, I also believe that there are opportunities for improvements to be made to assist teachers in the classroom to better accommodate students with learning difficulties. The Teacher Quality Institute offers a range of accredited courses to support teachers with strategies on how to support different students. Many of the courses do not have any cost, which is great, and keeping these courses financially accessible is very important.
However, there are some issues. In one year, a teacher may decide to complete a course specialising in autism because they have a student with autism. The next year, if they have a student with dyslexia, the course they have completed on autism will not be relevant for the new student. The teacher would then have to do the dyslexia-specific course. Of course, it also takes a large chunk of time to complete these courses. Each of these courses can take around five to 10 hours to complete. That is a big commitment for a busy teacher.
The other issue is that the courses are very tailored to specific learning difficulties. This means that it is possible that some teachers could miss the opportunity to learn more about all of the different types of difficulties that they might encounter in the classroom because they are focusing on specific difficulties. The teachers do not have the time or the resources right now to do each and every specific course. So what is the solution? A short general professional development program on a broader range of learning difficulties could be developed to train and further educate teachers. This could involve a learning difficulty expert coming in to educate teachers on the many different ways that they can better cater for a spectrum of learning difficulties in the classroom.
For example, a common way of teaching in secondary education is to instruct students to read the textbook and answer questions. This method of teaching does not always work for people with dyslexia because of the high level of reading and writing involved in the task. Some people with ADHD may also struggle due to the focus needed to get through all of the content. Instead of writing answers, teachers could give students the opportunity to express their knowledge verbally and make the task more interactive.
A professional development program could be the place where teachers gain more strategies like this to add to their toolkit. Such a program would serve to increase the understanding between teachers and students with learning difficulties, as well as ultimately increase the number of accommodations available for these students in the classroom. Students with learning difficulties are capable. They just need a bit of extra support, and we should do everything we can to give them the opportunity to succeed.
I would like to thank Jasmin once again for writing this speech.
MRS KIKKERT (Ginninderra) (5.54): Today I would like to share the incredible journey of a young woman who has been doing her work experience in my office. It is with great pleasure that I highlight Rachel Hough, a student from Melba Copland