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Love Tutoring Festival Late Night Live Podcast Transcript – SEND & Mental Health with Ludo, Nina Jackson, Amanda Cremona and Clio Tucker

 

The Qualified Tutor Podcast episode of this conversation went live at 11am BST on Thursday 8th July and you can find it on our website here, on Spotify here or on any other major podcast platform.

 

Host

Ludo Millar [Ludo]

 

Guests

Nina Jackson [Nina]

Clio Tucker [Clio]

Amanda Cremona [Amanda]

 

[Ludo]

Welcome to this episode of the Qualified Tutor Podcast. The first Late Night Live Podcast at the Love Tutoring Festival this week, Monday the 28th of June. We are joined here by fifteen attendees and speakers, tech helpers and, of course, myself. So, there’s a fairly big crowd here to listen to our three guests tonight. And, I’d like to welcome our guests. Nina Jackson, Clio Tucker and Amanda Cremona. I am so glad and very lucky to be hosting this podcast, where we’ll be diving into neurodiversity, access to education in this field and support strategies for tutors.

Nina is, as a little introduction, ‘The Ninja’. A force of nature and one of the most captivating speakers I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and listening to, including the event we’ve just had on supporting students’ mental health. 

Clio Tucker is currently completing a BSc in Biomedical Science at King’s College, London, and works for Manning’s Tutors alongside her study.

Amanda is an incredibly active and engaged community leader, runs AJC Tutoring, works as a supply teacher in a local school and changes the lives of a great number of students with dyslexia as well.

So, what a trio! Let us dive straight into the podcast with no further ado, and I’m gonna ask the three of you the first question, which is, what is your ‘why’ as an educator? Amanda, do you want to start?

[Amanda]

Why as an educator… I think it’s perhaps changed in recent months. It’s always been to help those that struggle for one way- reason or another and that has, sort of, led me into the dyslexia field. And, so, most of my students I have now have dyslexia. But I think, as well, in being self-employed over the last just over a year now, I’ve also become very passionate in trying to make some change, because I’ve had parent meetings that have blown me away with how some schools are not supporting their child and so, I have a very…I’m very passionate about empowering parents in order to be able to speak to a school to get the help that they actually, rightly deserve. So I have, you know, a mixed bag there.

[Ludo]

Yeah, always a great place to start is empowering the parents and getting them to understand the relationship to education which will then trickle down to the student as well. Clio, can I turn to you next?

[Clio]

Of course, hi everyone. So if you don’t know who I am, which I’m sure plenty of you don’t, I am pretty known for failing my A-Levels. That’s, I think, what Julia said, so I failed my A-Levels at 18 and I was diagnosed with ADHD about a year later. Which really, kind of, explained my entire, sort of, educational history and, you know, basically everything about my life I- I hadn’t understood up to that point. And, it really motivated me to get back into education and that’s why I pursued going into Biomedical science, which I’m currently doing. But I think that’s a lot of my ‘why’ as a tutor is that, although I did well academically in school, I really struggled in a lot of areas and, you know, I didn’t know why, no-one else around me knew why. I was, you know, not doing any homework, late every single day, you know, never brought books with me, or pencils, or pens, or, literally anything you could require a student to bring, I did not have! So, I think a big part of my ‘why’ is that I think I have a perspective about education and how hard it can be for some students that really makes me want to, you know, connect with them on a personal level and, you know, maybe show them some understanding, a compassion that they may not be getting in other places. And I also think that because education for a while there really kinda sucked the joy of learning out of me, really made me question whether I would ever, kind of, get that passion back. It makes me really want to, kind of, help students get that love of learning back and really enjoy the subject that they’re learning. I primarily do A-Level biology and, you know, I’ve certainly seen with my students, a lot of them are kind of going through the motions. I think that’s quite common for tutors to see their students doing, so I really want to empower students to think about their subject as something they love and enjoy again. So, I think that is my ‘why’, sorry if that was a little bit long.

[Ludo]

That was a wonderful answer, Clio, please don’t apologise at all. Thank you for that. We’ll be coming back to some of those themes that you’ve brought up there in just a second. Nina, please, what is your ‘why’ as an educator?

[Nina]

Good evening everybody, I’ve got two ‘why’s really. Number one is to give a nod and a thank you to educators, teachers and practitioners who, when I was a child, literally rescued me and recognised me as a human being, recognised me for my unusual ingredients and gave me hope and purpose in what was a really challenging time for me as a child. And what I then realised was, that my second ‘why’ is that there are so many, what I call “The Lost Boys and Girls” of the world who are misunderstood, who may not necessarily always have the language or the communication skills to say why their world isn’t okay and that teachers are not enriched enough to actually understand some of the complexities in areas of learning and living differences, the neurological and the cognitive side, and also in the area of mental health and wellbeing. So, there’s I guess, a number of whys and that’s from partly personal experience, but also as well, seeing how so many individuals were lost but, Clio, I am just thrilled that actually, you weren’t lost, you were found. And not only did you find yourself, but somebody somewhere has given you the support. So, as educators I think that we have this slightly invisible support blanket which is safety and security, to allow people to extend their magical ingredients. 

[Ludo]

Thank you. Thank you, Nina, and that draws together quite nicely, and that certainly wasn’t planned, but it draws together the three strands of education. Amanda talking about wanting to empower parents to understand more, Clio talking about wanting to help students fall back in love with their subject and Nina thanking the educators themselves for the work that they do and kind of how, recognising how difficult that can be. So thank you very much for those.

Now, let’s explore accessibility and tech a little bit further, this is an area of expertise for, for the three of you. And Nina has been delivering two sessions today on the importance of showing educators how they can use the phone, their digital learning device around them, to better support students with learning and living differences. So, first of all, I’d like to ask the three of you, and we’re gonna start with Clio on this one, if that’s okay?

How has accessibility improved learning for you?

[Clio]

Well, it’s improved it pretty hugely. I went from failing my A-levels to going into university. So, clearly, something did change and I think that a big part of that was that once I was diagnosed I could actually access that support. Weirdly, I think the biggest thing I have to shout out is that I have a tablet which has a pen. I know that seems like such a tiny thing, but if you think about it, it’s genuinely made such a difference in my learning and in my studies. So, I don’t have to bring multiple textbooks, or folders, or bits of paper. I am, I joke that I am emotionally allergic to paper, I don’t let anyone hand me anything on paper because I will lose it. I’ve lost every piece of paper I’ve ever touched, so please, never hand me anything on paper, you will never see it again! But, essentially, having it on a tablet and having all of my notes written out means that, you know, it syncs to the cloud. Even if, god forbid, I lost my tablet, all of my notes would still be there and, you know, it’s a lot easier to remember to just bring this one thing that has everything on it than to bring five billion different things that we all seem obsessed with making kids bring into school. I see that Jack is saying that in the chat. Yeah, so I think that it’s been hugely important for me and also, something that I think people don’t always associate with ADHD is perfectionism. I used to have massive note perfectionism, so I’d be like, if my notes aren’t perfect, what’s the point? And, you know, if you make one small mistake, or you get distracted and you stop writing, or they’re talking too fast and it’s difficult to keep up, I’d be like, well, the notes aren’t perfect, I’m just gonna give up, there’s no point, this lesson’s a write off. And now, I’m like, well I can just erase as much as I like, and just go back and change it whenever I want. Shuffle the pages, reorganise stuff however I want. So it genuinely has made a huge difference to me.

[Ludo]

Those are some different ways, yeah, okay and there’s a stern lesson for anyone not to hand Clio a single piece of paper. Yeah, a bill, maybe even, maybe even a note, maybe even a ten pound note, don’t hand it to her at all. 

Amanda, can we turn to you next? How has accessibility improved learning for you?

[Amanda]

Learning for me, I mean, I’ve been trying to, sort of, again, bring in some accessibility things for my students and get people, get them on board with what’s available, and I have had to learn myself and I am still learning massively. But, things like, you know, coming forward with the scanning pen that we saw earlier and, you know, things like that. And I’m, sort of, going forward with schools and saying, you know, why aren’t we looking at these? And, and interestingly it’s something that really needs bringing back to primary school but that’s, you know, so that by the time they go to secondary there will all of this accessibility is already in use. And I think that’s a really key thing that sort of needs to come in place and needs to change, because so much of this stuff doesn’t start until they’re at secondary school and sometimes then you’ve got all the self-esteem, you’ve got the confidence, you’ve got the, don’t wanna do that in front of my mates, kind of comments. Whereas actually, if it’s their normality when they’re younger then it- it just flows on and they, nobody knows. For- for me, I’m a big note taker, I have, you know, myself, I’m a very slow reader. I read a lot and I love to read but I, I quite, sort of, slow processing with my reading. I have to re-read quite a bit. And I think having things online a lot more that I know that I can, you know, do and flick back and I don’t, you know, and it’s there in front of me, and like I said, I write everything. So I’ll note take on my iPad and everything ‘cause that’s, my memory is shocking. So a lot, from an accessibility from one thing I have noticed with, over the lockdown thing, and for me with my work has been invaluable is actually this, the  students that are. I don’t know which way round to word this, are accessible to me, if you like. I mean, I’ve got, this lad I’m working with in Scotland, I’ve got some in north London now, I’ve got, and they’re people that were looking for a tutor that dealt with dyslexia around where they lived and they just couldn’t find people. Whereas now, you can pick and choose your tutor by what’s available because of being online and the accessibility of that.

[Ludo]

Sorry, Amanda, just to pop in, and that’s drawn it right back to accessibility and tech, hasn’t it?

[Amanda]

Yeah, absolutely, and I think we’ve, you know, we have been forced in the last year to learn it, you know? These tools were already there, we just never really made ourselves use it and everybody has had to learn and everybody has had to change and, like I said, for me it’s certainly changed my tutor base, for sure. And it’s enabled me to work with students that I love, you know, I really love, am passionate about working with.

[Ludo]

Nina, I’m gonna fire this straight over to you, what have you learnt about accessibility and tech, this year? In the past, since the lockdown first began? What have you learnt about accessibility and tech for those with living and learning differences?

[Nina]

I’ll come to that, but I was getting all excited then about, sort of, listing off about the amazing, sort of, like, thinking brain and the digital brain, ‘cause it’s not a phone. As you know, I never call it a phone, it’s a digital device but what I’ve learnt is that in the pandemic some of our learning and living differences have really, really thrived with the right use of tech, immersive reader, online, not being around some of their peers where they feel bullied, self-esteem, self-confidence, but slowly but surely, there’s been such a fear in education. Where education has not been fit for purpose, because everybody’s gone on about how bad tech is and ooo they’re gonna get their phones out or they’re gonna get their tablets out. But, as we’ve heard already, from Amanda and Clio, the allowance, okay? Of using a digital device for survival and progress has been huge. I’ve also been able to see how some- some young people, amazingly, have used new forms of artificial intelligence and augmented reality to enhance their learning, even with VR as well in their homes, to be really immersed in the experiences, but also, for so many of our young people, to really find their ways round coding and being able to. Or being allowed to use technology now more than ever, ‘cause they weren’t allowed to use it before because people would be scared. But they shouldn’t be scared because accessibility, that’s the only reason why Apple introduced the iPad into this world was that, because they wanted the autistic students in the US to have access to curriculum. And, I know exactly what people are talking about, a table with a pencil, you know, you’ve got a scribbler. Even if you’ve got really bad dysgraphia it sorts it out for you. So the empowerment, during the pandemic, finally, of allowing young people accessibility to inclusive world of learning is a ‘woohoo’ moment for me.

[Ludo]

The first of many, hopefully-

[Nina]

Yeah.

[Ludo]

Tonight. Amanda.

[Amanda]

Fear is very much what you said though, it’s been, we have been forced out of that fear a little bit, haven’t we? Because, you know, teachers, educators, everybody to use tech more and that’s- that’s been key.

[Ludo]

So, let’s go, let’s go further into that. What changes would you like to see in approaches to accessibility, you know, moving going forwards? I find that phrase so, kind of, cliched but, moving forwards what changes, what further changes would we like to see in accessibility in education?

[Amanda]

Who’d like to go?

[Ludo]

All three of you.

[Amanda]

Me, I would like it to be more mainstream. I think, you know, there’s, I think, to bring it in when we know that kids have got to a point where they’re really struggling. And, you know, not leave it. I mean, I was blown away this week. I had an email from a parent who sent me a copy of an email from the child’s school. They were trying to get their child screened or assessed for dyslexia. And the, one of the sentences at the bottom of the first paragraph was, our SEND team won’t assess or diagnose dyslexia unless the child is several years behind their peers and making little to no progress. I was blown away and I said to the parent, I can’t even imagine a member of staff thinking that, let alone writing it in an email to a parent. Several years behind? You know, so from, I mean, it’s just unreal. So, from that, and, and to answer your question, I think that tech needs to be brought in sooner. Like I said, certainly midway through primary, by the time a child’s got to, certainly, Year 4, if they’re still really struggling then there is something. There’s a difficulty of some sort, or a difference or a learning difference and- and things like that need to be supported. I mean, I’m a real advocate, it should be picked up much, much, much earlier than that. But just, to bring in that tech to help them before they get further, and further, and further behind.

[Ludo]

And off the back of that. This year has been a moment for education to stop and rethink its strategies because we weren’t allowed into classrooms. So, is now not the moment to rethink those areas that you’ve just mentioned there, Amanda? And certainly to rethink a school’s strategy that a child has to be several years behind where they are, where, where, you know, where the rest of their year are. So, thank you, thank you for bringing on that. Clio, can I draw on you here?

[Clio]

Yeah, of course. I think that is very shocking, we spoke about this when we were talking, catching up this week. Several years behind, I think kind of also speaks to an issue  that I have with the approach to accessibility, is that it’s very much, you know, you have to be struggling academically to be considered that you have something that’s worth assessing. And for me, I didn’t struggle academically until I hit my A-levels and then everything came crashing down, ‘cause all of the ‘not doing homework’ caught up with me. But if you, you know, looked at my school reports, for example, there were a lot of flags there that really should have been picked up, you know, the constant lateness, not bringing anything with me, not doing homework. It’s kind of showing there’s an issue, but, you know, the, the approach is well, if you do well in exams, you’re fine. And that just, it misses so many students who are struggling, it’s just not showing up in their academic work yet. And, you really don’t wanna get to a point where it shows up because, you know, they’ve failed their A-levels, for example! You know, as much as I think overall it hasn’t been an overly negative experience, it’s not something I would recommend to a friend, so I do think that, you know, Amanda is absolutely right. That the early intervention is key. And I also think that approaching accessibility as more of universal design, sort of, concept and thinking not just about, how do we improve accessibility for students that we know and have identified as having accessibility requirements but how can we improve accessibility for all students who may have some kind of struggle? Would, I know, I know a lot of students who benefit from approaches that you would consider, sort of, targeted interventions, you know, the use of tablets for writing things, who would not meet the diagnostic criteria for certain conditions but would still benefit from that kind of approach. So, I think, as educators, we should always be thinking, you know, is my lesson accessible? Is what I’m doing accessible for students with dyslexia? Is it accessible for students with ADHD, with ASD? You know, anything out there, you know. How, what am I doing to improve the accessibility of this content? And I think, that’s where we need to get in education, is to a point where, you know, you’re relying less on these targeted interventions for students who have fallen behind, but also on the, sort of, broad approach, that everyone should have learning be accessible to them.

[Ludo]

Yeah, and I think that’s such a positive attitude to have in one’s life anyways. Am I doing the right thing in what I do? Being self-reflective in your approaches and your strategies is, can really only be a good thing and there’s no reason why we can’t apply that to the tutoring that we do. Even if, we’re, it’s such kind of busy lives and we’ve got one student there and we log to another student two minutes later and there’s, we have to try and build in that time to reflect on the way we’re approaching it. Certainly, Clio. Now, I want to draw on a question that we’ve had submitted from Natalia which, Nina, I’m gonna point your way first. Natalia’s asking, what do we do, in terms of trying to encourage the use of tech in education if parents are saying no, no to excessive screen time. How do we manage that situation where we need or we’d like the student to use more tech, because it’s helping in their learning, but they’ve already used too much that day?

[Nina]

I guess, defining the difference between what is effective learning screen time and what is immersive play screen time. We have this thing in our house which is, it’s an ADO, which is an All Devices Off. And that’s very important to balance because we know from the big Stanford University research study recently, particularly with being on Zoom for so long, not only are there neurological and cognitive issues but also eye strain issues as well. But to come back to, I think there’s a difference between, we need to educate, not just the educators, but the parents as well, as to what accessibility for learning really, really is. It isn’t always about a tech tool, it isn’t always about a digital device. For some, for some children it’s accessibility to learning in a way that is individual to themselves, but if we’re talking about accessibility, for access to learning through a digital device, then only when we show parents what is possible with the marrying of the digital brain with the thinking brain that we’re empowering to see how well their children can do. For example, if a child can’t get to school unless they- they’re in a wheelchair or a set of crutches, you’re going to make sure they’re got a wheelchair or a set of crutches to actually, physically get there. If we’re not giving students that empowerment to use aspects of technology for accessibility then actually, what we’re doing, we’re breaking some of the UNCRC, the rights of the child, okay? Which is, to have a supportive aid to be able to make sure that they’re able to access learning, which is the best way for themselves. But I think that when we look at the term accessibility, we need to actually share with parents the difference between access for learning and general screen time where it’s gaming, watching TV etc. etc. Because it isn’t just a laptop, desktop, hand-top, okay? Which actually means screen time, televisions, watching billboards, all of that where it’s artificial, it has to be empowering parents as well to understand. And, parents need to get off their own digital devices. ADOs. 

[Ludo]

Right now! If you are a parent, right now, you have to get off. You have to leave. No! So, this is what, reflecting what Amanda was saying earlier in her ‘why’ is, is, almost educating the parents in best practices which will then, as we’ve said, filter down. So, so, certainly, yes, understanding, Natalia, I hope that helped a little bit with your understanding or whether you just wanted to introduce that as a topic, which was very much appreciated. Now, I’m just gonna shift the focus of the conversation a little bit now more towards school work and more towards homework. This is both, in line with where we wanted this to go with, but also Katie, I’d really like to get your question involved in this, and that was, not so applicable to the conversation we’ve just had. So I wanna turn towards that because our three guests might have a lot of experience in this as well. So, Amanda, I’m gonna, I’m gonna start with you on this one. In a year in which homework, and some of its potential shortcomings, have been highlighted really more than ever. Mainly, because parents now have been intensely involved in their child’s homework and have started to see the, kind of, banality of it at times. How can we rethink our homework strategy for students? I think you might be on mute, Amanda, or you’re just speaking very quietly!

[Amanda]

I was on mute. I was on mute. Do you mean from what they’re given from school or from us as a tutor giving homework?

[Ludo]

You know what I’m gonna say…it’s both. [LAUGH]

[Amanda]

Okay, so going on from a tutor, I don’t give homework. As, within my practice, I give, I will give if I’m working with a younger student that is mainly because of reading difficulties I will maybe give some key words to be reading through that week. You know, I’ll send the parents a list, you know, a few flashcards and say, you know, could you just do those each day with them? Something like that, but I certainly don’t give any worksheets or anything like that. But I, that’s the type of students I’m dealing with, I’m not really working with students that are out to pass their GCSEs or whatever. I mean, I do work with older ones but it’s more the strategies around, sort of, their revision and things. So, I don’t tend to. As far as school goes, I feel that there is an awful lot of homework given for homework’s sake and I just don’t see the point in that. If a student has not got a concept within class and needs a little bit of extra then yep, maybe. If they need to finish off something that they haven’t done for whatever reason in class, yeah, but to- to create homework just because, oh it’s Tuesday and they need to have some geography homework. I, you know, I don’t sort of get that. I don’t know and I’m open for discussion on that but that’s just my own personal one. And, again, probably from my own school days of, very much like Clio, not doing homework and things like that. But it’s, I think, for probably just so many, so many, so many, so many school children. It just becomes a battle, you know, it becomes a battle at home for parents. It becomes a battle with what they’re taking into school. It creates an enormous amount of extra work for teachers, you know, marking things and actually, if we can get learning right within school, is there that need? But I’m open for debate on that one! [LAUGH]

[Ludo]

You’re open for debate and that’s a big if.

[Nina]

I’m with you on that, Amanda. I, first of all, I just think that the whole use of language in calling it homework is wrong. 

[Amanda]

Yeah.

[Nina]

Okay, to spark a child, a young person, for anybody for learning, if we changed, if we didn’t even set this tick box exercise of homework but we looked at everything we did to empower ourselves to become better was all round own-work. Okay? So, number one, you don’t just own the work or what you do is, you’re actually doing what you get excited about. So what happens then, is that if a child or a young person gets really excited about something in tutoring or in school, they want to explore further, that’s brilliant, okay? Self-guided exploration, being adventurous, discovery, curiosity, awe and wonder, okay? That’s the form of best learning, because once an individual’s inspired and excited by something they’re more like to digest it, to process it, to reflect it and to be a part of it. However, some children can’t do “homework” at home. That’s stupid for, in itself. And it’s just been this thing for years, isn’t it? Oh, we must set homework. Why? Why should we be setting homework? Actually there’s a balance here between emotional wellness, mental health and wellbeing for children and young people, as well as when teachers are doing an excessive amount of marking at home, I think we just need to be really careful between the bridge between schooling, tutoring and real life. It’s gotta be a balance. It’s gotta be, hasn’t it?

[Amanda]

Yeah, I mean, I can say, like within, within some, I say I don’t set homework, and I don’t set any formal, like I said, sending worksheets or anything. But, I may well, I do quite a bit with mine with learning about the world and nature. And, you know, we did a topic on the Antarctic, Antarctica but bringing in all literacy to do with that. But it’s like, so maybe the following week, well, why don’t you google and find what you can out about, you know, the Antarctica, so we can talk about it next week? You know, that’s the homework, you know? Go and watch Finding Nemo, because I want to talk about the barrier reef or whatever it may be. You know, and- and that’s the homework, so it’s like you said, it’s conversational, it’s language, it’s everything else. But I know I can do that because of the students that I work with, I’m not trying to get them through their maths GCSE or their A-level biology.

[Clio]

No, actually, I completely agree with both of you. I know that I’ve said this, like, five times already, but I never did homework in school and, you know, while I was doing my GCSEs that didn’t impact my performance at all. It was one of the reasons they didn’t think that this was a problem was that it had zero impact on my learning to not have done any of this homework and not only is it, you know, a sign that, wow they probably should have been paying a bit more attention to what was going on with me as a child, also it was a sign that, why were they giving me this homework? And then, further to that, when I didn’t do the homework, I would be stuck with detention which is just more time of being sucked out of my life, you know, more exhaustion and, you know, less time to spend with my friends, to be out of the classroom to, you know, be a child. And I just think it’s really sad, to be honest. I think a lot of homework is just you’re making it a chore to learn. You’re making it something that students have to go home and do as a matter of, like, routine. When they would rather be with their friends, you know, learning something in a more, sort of, natural way to them. And, you know, I also think it’s sad because when I was younger I would get, sort of, really obsessive about different topics and wanna do a lot of research on them and all of that kind of stuff. None of that counted towards my schooling at all. None of that counted as homework, even though I was learning significantly more than what the homework they were setting me was, but, you know, I was still, you know, sort of chastised for not doing my homework, not doing what’s expected of me, and for what? And I’m with Amanda here, I also don’t set homework for my students because I think, you know, you’re already taking the commitment and time (I work primarily with older students) to see a tutor, you know, this is most of the time I find that my students want to be seeing a tutor. You already commit that, I’m not gonna send you off to do worksheets, you know? I’ll say, oh here’s something interesting you can read if- if you want to. I know that you’re interested in this particular aspect, whatever else. Just encourage them to do their own exploration, their own learning and that’s something I really had to, kind of, foster in myself as well when I got back into education was be like, okay, I’m not doing any of these formative assignments if I don’t think they’re gonna help me. I’m gonna do what I know is gonna be useful for me and I’m gonna save the rest of my energy and time to do the things that I love doing and that includes learning now. Whereas at school I had no energy and I also wasn’t doing homework, so, you know, it was a lose-lose for everyone.

[Nina]

I think what you’ve said there, Clio, actually really, really hits home to the fact that, you know, you were being punished for not completing homework and, of course, then, what happens is, that punishment then gets you labelled, then gets people talking. So your self-esteem and your confidence is rock bottom. Puts you off learning even more and I adore, Katie, what you’ve been putting in the chat.

[Amanda]

I do too.

[Nina]

Really, you know, this whole thing about the parent aspect of, well you know, they’re not keeping up with everybody else. Keeping up with who? You know. People say, you know, oh they say and we talked earlier about the disgusting word of the English language called “normal”, which is just awful ‘cause we’re all individuals. So, I’m really delighted to see that the interaction in the chat echoes so much of what we’re saying. You’re right. I mean, what is the point of homework? Is that just to test to see whether or not a) you can work on your own or b) whether you can remember something that’s gone on in the lesson or… and if we’re talking about learning and living differences, even just, you know, managing to get through the afternoon when it’s been a really challenging morning, physically and cognitively it’s just exhausting. Enough said.

[Ludo]

And it’s 9pm now, and it’s getting late.

No, it’s very important, I mean, podcast listeners won’t be able to see this. There’s so much going on in the chat and really that’s just a reflection of what everyone here is wanting to contribute to this conversation and this was always gonna be the issue. I knew with this podcast was gonna be trying to keep it to, to a manageable length. So, thank you, thank you, so far for all of those contributions. Both from our speakers and from those of you in the chat box. On, we’re talking quite a bit here about how the classroom environment can draw down and pull down on those students with learning and living differences. What are some of the drawbacks of sitting in a classroom and, and then being given homework and going home. What support strategies, let’s turn to this for a second, what support strategies for students with learning and living differences can tutors deploy that teachers perhaps don’t get the opportunity to deploy because of the classroom environment? How can tutors help with some of these support strategies for what we’ve just been talking about?

[Nina]

First of all I think that what tutors can allow students to do is to actually to have physical mobility and not be stuck in one space to a chair, but the fact that you can still learn by moving around. And you can move around with or without a digital device, you don’t have to have the eye connection with somebody else, you could be looking at, you know, a different point in the room but still have that engagement. And I think it’s the, it’s the freedom of learning that has to be through physical freedom as well.

[Ludo]

Amanda.

[Amanda]

Absolutely agree, I think, I was going to say create a safe zone, because there is just you and, you know, or small group, maybe two or three others, but, you know, anytime I do either one to one or within the school that I mentioned at the minute I’m doing some intervention but it’s very small and my first thing that I say is, this is your safe zone. You know, it doesn’t matter what mistakes you make, it doesn’t matter, you know, what you ask me. There’s no, you know, if you can use the word judgement if they’re at that language ability but, you know, they’re- this is the, and if you don’t get it you need to say because this is your chance to feel safe in doing so. You haven’t got all your peers here, you haven’t got to put your hand up in front of the whole class, you haven’t got to read aloud in class, this is your safe space and you need to use that. And that’s sort of, and I think that’s what tutoring provides massively, because it provides that, like I said, it provides that slight intimacy that you can, you can get. It’s like, it’s like the relationship building, you know and you can really home in on what their strengths and what their weaknesses are. And it’s the weaknesses that probably need as, you know, more support than anything and building that self-esteem, building that confidence, which is also really key. But I think that safe zone is probably the one thing I would say.

[Ludo]

Yeah, and isn’t it interesting how, you know, how just a few number of children would view their classroom as a safe zone, given that we understand very much that happy and safe children learn most effectively. That we can’t even create that in our centres for learning. Clio did you want to add something on that point?

[Clio]

Yes, very briefly. I know we’re slightly gonna run over time but I think, no, I completely agree. And I think the two things that we can do as tutors, that we can offer students, that they often don’t get in a, sort of, traditional classroom setting is just time and compassion. You know, we get to work with them individually, they have just more actual face to face contact hours with us than they typically do with their teachers. And, you know, for some students it will just take a bit longer for them to click and we can give them that, you know, space to get to that point and that support. I think a lot of barriers for a lot of these students is just in self-confidence and, you know, we get to work with them to build that in a way that their teachers often don’t and I think it’s it’s important for all of us to be a little bit, you know, educated about some of the different conditions that students will have, dyslexia, all of that kind of stuff. That we can really understand where they’re at and we can meet them there. Whereas a lot of teachers just don’t understand a lot of these conditions, many teachers are excellent and are really striving to work towards, you know, greater accessibility and understanding and, you know, there are many very empathetic teachers. But, in my own experience, you know, none of my tutors that I ever had in school would ever, you know, tell me off or punish me for doodling or anything like that because they were there to help me individually. But teachers told me off all the time for doodling in class, so, you know, we get to be more present for them, and empathetic and understanding of their situation. And I think that can be really valuable. Even if, you know, it doesn’t necessarily show up in grades, you know, we don’t always get students to where we hope they’re gonna be. I think the personal impact that that can have on students’ lives is, you know, indispensable.

[Ludo]

And how lucky we are that we get to, we have that space that can do all of that. Look at the reactions streaming in, I don’t know whether that’s ‘cause of genuine what you’ve just been saying, Clio, or whether Natalia has just reminded us all that we can, we can do lovely things with our emojis but absolutely, I couldn’t agree more. I’d like to say as well, that it is only recently in my tutoring career that I have come to understand this area a little bit more and that’s a hundred percent because of the community that we have built. And because of the podcasts that I have been lucky enough to host and I didn’t think that this was an area that I would be involved in, in kind of, the sphere of tutoring and in terms of actually being the tutor and having a student in this area. But it’s incredible what learning about this area can do for helping me and for helping loads of other tutors with students who are- who don’t have learning and living differences, so understanding the way that learning works for those that struggle with conventional learning can really give you insights into how to improve learning for, for those that that struggle with these areas that we’ve discussed. What society would call normal students, but what we are never ever going to name again. So, thank you all very very much for those contributions. I keep feeling that I am, I am thanking you for what you’re saying but that truly comes right from within. So, it’s been, it’s been a wonderful conversation, I know that no-one really wants to end this conversation now but we must do for the, for the listening attention span of our listeners but there was one more question that was raised in the community earlier today. And this one is just directed towards Nina, just before we finish. Stop it, Jack! Just before we finish, Nina, could you let us know if you have seen the speech to text tools that you were discussing, that you, that were involved in the first workshop, someone was asking in the community, have you ever seen these mentioned in a maths or formula-based subject setting? Can these be used not for just reading words, creative writing, English, that type of thing?

[Nina]

Yes.

[Ludo]

Thank you.

[Nina]

There is, there’s an app for that, right? There’s an app for that. There’s also a web-based tool for that where you can actually say exactly what you want to see symbolic, mathematic, symbolic on the screen and it sorts it out. Boom shakala. Sorted.

[Ludo]

Okay, well that’s the answer. I think you’re gonna have to keep picking your mic up off the floor because you’ve dropped it about four times.

[Nina]

Really?

[Ludo]

Yes, you have. But, no, thank you all very much. Thank you to Clio. Thank you to Amanda. Thank you to Nina. Thank you to Katie, to Serena, to Natalia, to Linda, to Hope, to Victoria, to Sadiya, to Natalie and to Jack for keeping the whole conversation going in there. If it wasn’t for Jack, we wouldn’t have had those wonderful contributions from you our attendees. Thank you for listening in to the first episode of the Late Night Live Podcasts at the Love Tutoring Festival. There will be three more of these on the Tuesday, the Wednesday and the Thursday evening. Tomorrow is the Business of Tutoring. Even more importantly I think for the discussion we’ve had today, Wednesday is our big Teaching and Learning day. So please do return to that where we’ll be finding out more about strategies for, for learning within the tutoring environment. Thank you all very much. Please don’t go because Julia has something I think she’d like to say but I’m gonna stop the recording now and thank you to our guests and our speakers.

 

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If you’d like to hear the recording itself, please click here (passcode: 46W@QKiW)

Jack Simmonds
Jack has been in and around education his whole life, as a teenager he was giving music lessons with his local youth music group and hasn’t ever stopped! He has worked in all sorts of different jobs from Hull to Fuerteventura, but most of his work has had some kind of teaching or facilitating element. Jack loves watching people in that moment where they realise they can do something they didn’t think they could manage before. He currently works for Nudge Education most of the time - when he’s not doing that, he can be found outside with his tiny dog.

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