You've probably heard the term “shadow teacher” floating around, but you're probably not sure what that entails. Although the word may appear intimidating, many parents prefer a shadow teacher to secluded special needs environments or special schools. Let’s understand everything below.
Who are shadow teachers?
Shadow teachers are co-teachers or para-educators, who monitor and assist a specific child’s progress in class. In India, they are often assigned to children with special needs. They sit with the child in a regular classroom and make sure that the child is given social, educational and physical support in a classroom that outstrips them in all these categories. The goal is to make sure that they help these children to eventually become part of a mainstream classroom and give them the ability to function individually in such a set-up.
Lead teachers, especially in large Indian classrooms, are unable to pluralize teaching to suit children with specific learning needs. These can be children with behavioral, developmental or learning disorders.
“Shadow teachers bridge this gap and take the child with special needs under their wing.”
Why opt for a shadow teacher?
- Inclusive classrooms: Many parents of special needs children want their kids to be part of a mainstream, inclusive school instead of putting them in special schools.
- Early intervention: Shadows are especially beneficial to children in their concrete operational stage. This is when early intervention is possible and we can identify behavioral and developmental disorders early, thereby charting goals and making better progress.
- Individual attention: For children with special needs, individual attention is immensely helpful.
- Behavioral needs:For children with autism and ADHD, shadows are assigned irrespective of class size. They make sure that a child blends in with the class.
- Peer-to-peer interaction: With shadow teachers, special needs children can interact with their peers instead of working in isolation or in a resource room.
- Constant change in teachers: Constant changes in teachers is a concern faced by parents with children with autism, ADHD or Learning difficulties and many have opted for shadows for assistance and uniformity of progress . Some were good, the others were not able to get a handle on the situation. There were also different teachers for different subjects.
What do shadow teachers typically do?
- Set tasks and work through a child’s challenges.
- Individualize the teaching curriculum to suit the child
- Ensure that the child does not disrupt the class. Any class, however flexible it may be, should follow a basic protocol and shadow teachers help their children follow this and understand the dynamics of social interaction.
- Help those children who are unable to understand instructions or process signals and cues.
- Be a bridge between the teacher, student and parent. A shadow reports to the parents about the child’s progress. The facilitator works closely with the assistant teacher and sets important goals for the child. The shadow and school teachers should work in unison, or else, they cannot be on the same page.
- Wean the child from her assistance and make him or her independent. This is crucial and should be the long-term goal
How do you find shadow teachers and what qualifications do you look for?
- Insighte shadow teachers usually have a bachelors/masters in Psychology. This is to ensure there is an understanding of child's socio emotional needs while helping them integrate with their classmates and facilitate inclusion
Other qualification you can look for a shadow teacher are
- Approach special education centers that offer training.
- With the RTE amendments ensuring that there are modifications in the B.Ed's course to include special education training and awareness, B.Ed's colleges are also good bets.
- Many schools that allow shadow teachers will have counselors or other staff members who can double as shadow teachers.
Schools in Bangalore that allow shadow teachers:
- Vibgyor High School
- Deens Academy
- Orchids International School
- Paramount Public School
- B.M. English School
- Bangalore International School
- Delhi Public School, East
- Euro School
- Roots Academy
- The Foundation School
- Inventure Academy
- Little Millennium School
Insighte offers trained Shadow teachers to assist children in Schools.
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