Sunday, 14 March 2021

Success in School: Down Syndrome

Last week I was given the privilege of attending a Success in School: Down Syndrome Workshop on Monday and Tuesday. It was organised by the Auckland Down Syndrome Association (ADSA). It was in attendance of primary and secondary school educators, as well a few parents and educators from Early Childcare centres. This workshop took place at the Ellerslie Events Centre in Auckland.

Please find the timetable of the presentations here:

All the presenters were great. I really enjoyed hearing from members of the public with Down Syndrome that came to talk and share with us what life was and is like for them. It gave me a better understanding of behaviours, inclusion and friendships for people with Down Syndrome.

On the first day, I learned a lot from the presentation by Phillippa Lilburn. She presented two workshops about Behaviour and Friendships. One of her key ideas was to 'teach functional equivalent behaviour' which meant to do something different especially when what you have planned and trying to deliver is not working. A lot of what she spoke about made me think about my teaching practice and what I can do in and outside the classroom to help learners with Down Syndrome. Unfortunately, this was also Phillippa's last time to present at a workshop as she was moving to another part of the country. I wish her all the best.

On the second day, the presentation on Numeracy and how to adapt the curriculum by Dr Rhonda Faragher (via video - she lives in Brisbane, Australia) followed by Margi Leech. Dr Rhonda Faragher explained that maths is important for everyone. This presentation stood out for me because it is more than number, more than arithmetic, it's the use of maths in the context of everyday life. She also explained that the more children with Down Syndrome learn and develop in their child years, the better they are equipped for their adult life. Learners with Down Syndrome are capable. 

Margi Leech gave us ideas about how to teach maths using Numicon resources. She also explained that these resources can be for all learners in the classroom. I really liked the Numicon shapes and Cuisenaire rods that help children to visualise and talk about their maths learning which embeds understanding and confidence.

All the presentations were amazing and incredibly valuable. There were lots of ideas that I took from the two days. Thank you to the Auckland Down Syndrome Association for organising it. Please take note that World Syndrome Day is Monday 21st March, 2021. If you could participate (wear colourful bright socks) and donate if you can. You can check out more information here.

I was very privileged to have been able to go along to this workshop. It was an eye-opener for myself and to help me teacher learners with Down Syndrome.