Baytree Special School – Verbal Valley

| November 2, 2007 | 2 Comments 

Today, at Baytree Special school, after a superb sensory session yesterday, the focus was on a more verbal approach, speaking and listening extension but still with a tactile and sensory element where appropriate.

The first session, this morning, with the older groups of children in the school, was, without doubt, a highlight of my whole time of developing these visual literacy ideas.

I decided to use a location I have used frequently and often with very able children: the very start of Myst III:Exile, a dry desert-like, barren landscape with a solitary bird winging overhead. I can honestly say I have rarely heard such good quality questioning, description and all done with such a warm humour. Remarkable!

The students were incredibly supportive of each other, offering great encouragement to those who felt more self conscious about speaking out loud, so much so that everybody made really fascinating contributions to the lesson. They also developed some excellent listening skills, showing great respect for other people’s offerings and suggestions.

We talked, as a staff afterwards, about the idea of returning to the same location as a follow up, this time recording (through scribes perhaps) the results of the explorations. This might mean that the pace (of movement through the landscapes) could be kept slow and detailed. It might also ensure that the emphasis remains on the language elements, rather than the “wandering and getting somewhere else.” In fact, one student even expressed a desire to investigate the room we were in RATHER than go anywhere else. This showed a remarkable level of maturity for me.

Thank you to Claire for some superb questioning with the children and really helping the flow of the lesson.

Well done to students Carol, Sash, Darren, Marc, Victoria, Laura, Jason, Louise, Conner and Aaron for making this session ONE OF THE MOST ENJOYABLE EXPERIENCES OF MY TWENTY-BLAH-YEARS TEACHING CAREER.


The afternoon session was a superb experience too, but “wild” in comparison. I think I made many mistakes with a very LARGE group of children, with very varied needs. They were all incredibly keen, but all incredibly keen …at the same time. đŸ™‚

I really appreciated the help from Wendy and Claire, and their colleagues, in making the session go as well as it did. We had great fun getting going with a more sensory approach, but I feel that the lesson was not led by the landscape as I had hoped.

However, as head  Carol Penney, said “If you’re going to lose, don’t lose the lesson.” We didn’t. We learnt from the experience. The children responded amazingly well despite their huge range of needs. Claire has e-mailed, as I write, with some astute ways that the ideas will be carried on. Thank you and well done! We all have lessons that don’t feel SO spectacular and I am glad that one of mine still felt full of laughter and, at least, some progress.

Thank you to ALL of the staff and children of this SPECIAL “special school” for an enchanting couple of days.

I am sure that many of the things we investigated as “FIRSTS” will be able to be applied with great effect elsewhere. I hope I may be a part of it.

I REALLY enjoyed my own personal learning experience over the last two days.

To arrive, cold, into any setting is a challenge. To arrive into a particularly challenging setting and leave with such a warm glow, is a joy!

Category: 1) Events and Training days

Comments (2)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Claire Burgess says:

    Thanks Tim. It was a good learning experience. We are planning to continue to work hard and provide a more sensory approach when needed, to give the children the time to speak to us. Come back for more fun, games and learning times when ever you want !! Claire B in Class 3

  2. Carol Penney says:

    The buzz around school whilst you were in working, Tim, was exciting and busy, was a great learning experience for all involved. Thank you for the comments about your session with the senior group, it was great news to hear about their ‘thinking, feeling, caring’ approach. A attitudes and values for our seniors to go out into the world with!!
    A big THANK YOU for the experience
    Carol Penney, Headteacher, Baytree

Leave a Reply