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FundLife Holds Capacity Building on How To Handle Differently-Abled Learners

On April 1 and 2, 2023, FundLife organized Capacity Building 2: Handling Differently-Abled Learners at HIS Capsule Hostel, Tacloban City. This followed the first Capacity Building in mid-March of this year. The seminar-workshop was participated by FundLife teachers and coaches as well as 32 public school teachers from DepEd Tacloban and Leyte Division. The seminar-workshop, which is part of the FundLife Leadership Academy: Reach to Teach (FLA:R2T) Program, aims to equip general education teachers with knowledge on how to spot red flags in the classroom so that they can help address the learning needs of their students.

On the first day of the seminar-workshop, Ms. Firie Jill T. Ramos, the resource speaker, facilitated a baselining exercise to identify current school practices in terms of policies related to enrollment, retention, promotion, and assessment of students with special needs. Through thematic analysis, the current practices are categorized into teachers’ knowledge and skills, policies, facilities, attitude, and curriculum. Teachers also shared their challenges, examples of these are the limited number of SPED teachers for every district; inaccessibility of assessment centers; lack of training for teachers; unclear policies on referral; lack of resource/pull-out rooms, among others.

The legal framework of Inclusive Special Education in the Philippines was also discussed. After which, the teachers were asked to design their action plans so they can start advocating for change within their respective schools.

On the second day of the seminar-workshop, Ms. Ramos discussed the biological basis of learning. She also tackled how parents’ behavior, specifically how substance abuse and alcohol dependency can affect the brain physiology of their offsprings which can then lead to learning difficulties. The Pyramid of Learning by Jean Ayres, which shows that sensory systems support academic learning, implies the importance of play-based learning in early childhood education. According to Ms. Ramos, “To learn better, kids should be able to calm down. Problems in senses can lead to problems in learning.”

Before discussing developmental red flags, the speaker clarified that teachers are not allowed to diagnose learning difficulties, but they can take note of behavioral manifestations by keeping anecdotal records which will help the developmental pediatrician. Being able to spot red flags and getting an early diagnosis is important because it will help facilitate early interventions that will help manage the child’s condition and improve the child’s abilities. Ms. Ramos shared ways on how teachers and the schools can support children with special needs: 1) behavior management and sensory diet, 2) accommodation and modification of curriculum, 3) functional literacy and functional numeracy skills, 4) job immersion programs.

According to Ms. Ramos, schools can advocate for SPED programs since there is already a legal basis. She also mentioned that LGUs have an allocation for the Special Education Fund, citing Valenzuela City as a municipality with best practice in terms of Special Education. She also emphasized the need to plan for educational pathways for children with special needs by focusing on meaningful functional literacy which will teach the kids adaptive skills, life skills, and technical-vocational skills. “As general education teachers, may we advocate for a genuinely inclusive school where no one child is truly left behind,” Ms. Ramos said.

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