If your first mental image upon hearing the term ‘shadow teacher’ was a samurai ninja masquerading as a teacher in a primary school, you’re not the only one. But as cool as that sounds, the truth couldn’t be farther.
Shadow teachers may be ninjas but they just might be the heroes that children with learning disabilities can rely upon.
A shadow teacher is a fairly common term in Singapore and common in education circles. You may have heard it from another parent, teachers or caregivers. They are educators who help children with learning needs in a mainstream classroom setting.
With the growing awareness of shadow teacher qualifications, more parents are opting to have shadow teachers in classrooms. So what exactly is a shadow teacher and what should you know about them? Read on to know more.
Who Is A Shadow Teacher?
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A shadow teacher can simply be a para-educator or an educational therapist. They work with children who have special educational needs or learning disabilities during the preschool or primary school years.
In most cases, students with behavioural issues, autism, language learning difficulties, ADHD, and more, may require a shadow teacher in class to show support. Kids with these disabilities struggle to integrate into mainstream classrooms and schools, which can be helped with the presence of a shadow teacher.
The shadow teacher qualifications include learning about different disabilities and how to manage a child’s behaviour accordingly.
They also play an instrumental role in the child’s development and learning needs.
All of this happens in the mainstream class where the school teacher may not be able to special attention to every student in a class of 40 kids (primary), especially in a task-oriented, curriculum-driven framework that offers limited flexibility. Instead, the shadow teacher fills that role.
Why Should Parents Engage A Shadow Teacher?
Here are some of the reasons why parents should engage a shadow teacher for their children:
You want your child to be a part of the mainstream schooling system instead of admitting your child to a special school.
A shadow teacher will help the child cope with the syllabus at their own pace and learning abilities instead of a rushed form with the rest of the class.
Recruiting a shadow teacher at an early age will only help in early intervention and help kids cope with their learning disabilities right from the start.
Shadow teachers are able to offer one-0n-one attention to children or in a small group that further helps kids in achieving their educational goals.
Shadow teachers will help the student pay attention to classroom instructions.
They also act as a bridge between the classroom teacher and the student and their learning needs.
A shadow teacher will also facilitate interaction with other students in class, especially if the child is introverted or shy in social settings.
They can also help with speech, language and occupational therapy goals within the classroom.
What Are The Shadow Teacher Qualifications To Look Out For?
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If you are on the lookout for a shadow teacher, make sure they exhibit these qualifications:
A shadow teacher is accredited and trained to handle special needs children
They’ve worked with students that have had different disabilities
A shadow teacher who has already worked at a mainstream school is always a big plus
Someone who openly communicates about the progress of the child with the parents and teachers
And fundamentally, a shadow teacher needs to be someone who bonds well with kids and is patient enough
With the right support from a shadow teacher, students despite their learning disabilities can thrive in a mainstream environment.
As a parent, you will be assured as well that your child will be able to cope and get the best education possible. It’s also about allowing your child to have a normal school life and having a shadow teacher by their side will do wonders in building their confidence.
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