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During our teaching – learning interaction in class, the teacher engages in a number of activities in class. Asking questions, give them some writing tasks, and so on, to ensure that the content taught has been assimilated by the students. Slowly the teacher discovers that there are different types of students. Some are brilliant, others can be clever, some average, and still others who perform very poorly. Those who perform well, the teacher, the parents and others shower praises upon them, and thus they are further motivated to perform still better.
In Dnyanamata we discovered accidently that there are a few students in every class, who are slow learners. They are far behind and they need more time and personal attention. The teacher has to teach the content again and again, and yet the student may not have grasped the matter. It is not only the content matter, but they even need more of the emotional pat on the back.
Every teacher in our school is expected to counsel all the students in their class. The teachers are also requested to maintain a book, in which they record the difficulties shared by the students, especially in the area of study. The teacher reflects on the problems faced by the students, and aptly tries to address them, and cater to the need of that particular student. There may be different types of learning disabilities, and every student is unique. This can be due to some physical damage to the brain, or the memory cells, or it could be deformity, or it could also be some emotional or psychological reason.
Our teachers also visit the families of such students, who cannot cope up in the regular class. The sharing of the parents to a great extent helps our teacher to understand the difficulty level of the student. It is not very easy to pin point the learning disability, one an effort can be made in this regard.
“Prerna” is a center for diagnosing and helping students with learning disabilities. It is a centre managed by the Don Bosco (The Salesian Fathers) we are in touch with the Director, Fr. Edward D’Souza. He has been guiding our Principal to a great extent. Fr. D’ Souza is of the opinion that the best age to diagnose and help such students is below 10 years. The students till class lV will deliver the best results. We have been moving strongly in this direction.
We have indentified about 12 students from the primary section. Our teachers have been paying special attention towards them. They check their books daily; the special students are also seated on the first benches of the classroom. While teaching the teacher ensures that these students understand the concept, before proceeding further with the content.
We have even formed a committee of teachers, who meet regularly and monitor the progress of these students, suspected of learning disabilities. So far, so good. Very soon, we hope to visit Nashik (Don Bosco) along with our committee and learn more the art of diagnosing, and identifying the learning disabilities of the students. Fr. D’ Souza will help us in this process. We shall also dialogue with the parents and will be in constant communication with them, as very little can be done without their help and cooperation. Fr. D’ Souza is of the opinion; these students can improve drastically, before they reach class five.
We are grateful, to our Jesuit Management and our Principal, for initiating into this wonderful process, and we hope to grow in this field. This certainly will give us more satisfaction, than regular teaching. Once we master these skills, we hope to invite more teachers of the Primary section of other schools, and share our experiences and empower each other. We have a long way to go, but well begun is half done!
M’s. Poonam Hiwale.
Dnyanamata Convent School,