I’ve found that catering for diversity to be challenging, but quite a satisfying experience. As mentioned before, the class contains many special needs children, and about half the class comes from single parent families. Mindful of ACARA’s (n.d.) statement on diversity, I’ve learnt to treat each student in accordance to their needs. For example, Aline who comes from a broken home and can shut down easily needed more personalised learning as she is currently at grade 2 level for literacy and maths. She needed to feel ‘safe’ at school. There were times when Aline would not start her work, simply because she didn’t want to, however, active encouragement and acknowledgement of her ability would be required for her to do her work. Another student Jan (a pseudonym) came from a broken home. Unlike Aline, she was very quiet, and the MT stated that the number one goal for her was for her to attend school. Like Aline, she needed much encouragement and acknowledgement of her ability to ensure she did her work. I had worked closely with her giving her positive reinforcement and as a result, she was present everyday at school while I was there (Rogers, 2011). This strategy also worked for Bella (a pseudonym), a student with high functioning ASD (HFASD), who suffers from high anxiety. I was able to use positive reinforcement, logic, and encouragement, and she was able to participate in the school concert after she informed the school she was not going to attend.
Roland (a pseudonym) was another student with HFASD with behavioural issues and an inability to concentrate for long periods of time. Using Drifte and Vize (2010) recommendation, I was able to break up his work routine, and give him personalised instructions. This helped his understanding of the task as he could not comprehend step by step instructions; he could only understand one step at a time, an attribute of students with his condition. The big issue here was that Roland also tended to chat a lot with his neighbouring students, and on the MT’s instructions, I constantly had to call him and his neighbours on their talking. When I gave him personalised instructions, there was a chance this could be misunderstood as me telling him to be quiet. I used positive reinforcement again to help him through the instructions. Being aware of his condition, I also celebrated when he followed instructions, and whenever he did great work. I celebrated both publicly to the class by awarding house points, and by having personal congratulatory talks with him. After only three days of teaching, Roland’s behaviour had improved, and he had spent more time on his work rather than talking although there were still disruptive incidences that I called him up on.