Our fourth plenary speaker is a lady who has inspired many of us with her pioneering work in the field of learning difficulties. Dr Anne Margaret Smith has been teaching English for 30 years, and is also a dyslexia specialist tutor and assessor. She founded ELT well () to bring together best practice from the two fields of ELT and SpLD support, and offers materials and training to teachers. She helped found the new IATEFL SIG: Inclusive Practices and SEN in 2016.
1. Your plenary session will focus on differentiation and inclusive learning. Which areas of classroom practice will the session mainly touch upon?
In my plenary talk I will be looking at the physical classroom environment, learning materials, and especially classroom management. I want to make the point that we don’t have to rewrite course books or totally change what we are already doing, but just slightly tweak current practice to make it a bit more inclusive.
2. Your follow-up session will be on the use of multisensory activities. What are some of the benefits of using such activities in the classroom setting?
When we use multisensory activities, we make it more likely that more of our learners will remember more of what we want them to learn. We give students the opportunity to try out different ways of learning, and help them to find ways that suit them best in different situations. Also, it makes for a more varied and enjoyable experience for students and teachers.
3. Based on your long experience as a teacher and dyslexia specialist tutor and assessor, which principles do you feel are the most important when addressing different learning needs and styles in our classrooms?
The most important thing is getting to know our learners as individuals, as well as possible, and helping them to get to know themselves, and their classmates. When we build supportive and respectful relationships, we put in the foundations for inclusive practice in our classrooms, and throughout the whole school.
4. Our 26th Convention focuses on practical suggestions to solving classroom issues . Which areas of ELT do you feel could benefit the most of a more hands-on approach?
I think perhaps we could look at the way we assess our learners’ progress, and be more creative in the way we evaluate what they can do and what they still need to work on. More practical formative assessment could be done, as opposed to summative assessment.