Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Secondary Project at the Special Needs School
A few weeks ago I found a school for special needs children near my house. The school is huge and has over 300 children attending. It is one of 10 schools in Rwanda for special needs students. They have deaf children in one part of the school and autistic children in another. I don’t think they have gone so far as to diagnose other mental disorders, they just combine everyone into these two categories. Sadly the teachers have not been trained in any way to teach or discipline these children. If they are running around outside not coming to class nobody seems to care. They told me they don’t know how to get the children to come to class. So my job has been rounding up the children who don’t come and dragging them to class and sitting with them to make sure they stay. Also positive reinforcement is completely lacking in the classrooms which is especially important when children have these conditions. It’s also sad that they place deaf students with autistic children because many of the deaf students have no brain disabilities at all. So I have been trying to stress positive reinforcement. Also for the children that act out they are usually doing this purely for attention. So I have found if you ignore the students acting out and pay attention only to the students being good, and giving the good students lots of positive reinforcement the children acting out and refusing to do the exercises eventually feel left out and learn that to get the teachers attention they have to be good. During my first week at the school I was shadowing one particular teacher. One day when I arrived he was not there. I asked another teacher where he was, and was told he was at the bank. So his class was left completely unattended, no one subbed in and no one seemed to car. So I just took over the class and taught that day because the teacher went to the bank. You can see the standard these teachers are held to…none.