EXCELLENCE IN TEACHING
As the case manager for Year 7 Special Education Program (SEP) students at Runcorn State High School (RSHS), teacher Benjamin Collier has sought to include his students in a full education like their peers, helped them all achieve a passing grade and introduced Australian Sign Language (Auslan) as the second language offered at the school.
Ben has written differentiated curriculum plans for all of his Year 7 SEP students. That may include as an example, modifying a student’s learning to a Year 1 level and incorporating sign language to ensure a student has the same access to age appropriate high school experiences as their peers. He provides support to students with Intellectual Disability, Physical Impairment, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Hearing Impairment.
Ben came to work at RSHS in the beginning of 2019 and that year 100 per cent of all SEP case-managed students received A-C results across core subjects. That required Ben each semester to work in nine different subjects with 17 teachers and six support staff.
Head of Special Services at the school, Stacy Edwards, says Ben is a teacher of the deaf and provides leadership in the teaching of Deaf/Hard of Hearing (DHH) students.
“He has been instrumental in the establishment of Australian Sign Language (Auslan) as a new language curriculum offering. He is also very highly regarded by Regional staff working in the DHH area,” Stacy says.
In Semester 1, 2020 100 per cent of Auslan class students received A-C results and 66 per cent received A-B. Ben had to plan all resources whilst working with students who had no prior exposure to the language.
Throughout his career, Ben has advocated for the educational rights of all children, irrespective of the challenges that might bring.
A case in point is a student Ben successfully worked with who had displayed extreme behaviour as a result of their disability. They came to RSHS with 209 previous behaviour incidents during their schooling years. Ben put in place an Individual Student Behaviour Management Plan and personalised planning for this student. So far in 2020 they have only missed two days of school due to suspension and had six behaviour incidents.
Ben case-managed another student who is deaf and has intellectual disabilities and who was transitioning from primary school to high school. Ben arranged specialised support staff to be in all of their classes, developed social stories to embed expected behaviour, individualised online learning resources during COVID, provided professional development to colleagues on the student’s diagnosis and advocated for the student to have access to practical areas of the curriculum, knowing it required intensive support.
Ben communicates with various stakeholders in support of meeting the specialised needs of students. Examples include being in regular contact with families and health professionals and visiting feeder schools in Term 4 to provide information to help ease students’ transition from primary to high school. He regularly discusses ways to provide a safe environment for students, including strategies for the playground, and runs an annual multi-disciplinary team meeting ahead of school camp to discuss access and support issues.
Ben frequently mentors other teachers and undertakes professional development to further his knowledge. He is a facilitator in the newly created Special Education Curriculum Cluster and supports teachers at other schools with the implementation of Auslan as a language subject.
Congratulations Ben on being shortlisted for the TEACHX Excellence in Teaching Award.