Shadow teaching is a professional service offered to the school and family to better manage the needs of students who have a learning difference. The Institute for Innovation and Creativity (IIC): Learning Enhancement Programs (LEP) facilitates the process of helping the parents find the right shadow teacher that is knowledgeable in the specific needs of the students to then support the child in an inclusive environment. The director of the IIC: LEP/SNFLC seeks out shadow teachers that attend workshops/ seminars with a focus on students with learning differences and has some classroom experience. Shadow Teaching is a progressive form of assistance that acts as a resource for the school and the parent. Communication and collaboration between the shadow teacher, the classroom teacher and the parents is essential when striving for success. Meaningful relationships must be established to best meet the needs of the child. The shadow teacher helps provide the students with continuity in their classes, instills responsibility, fosters independence and encourages learning. The shadow teachers are employed by the parents to work with their child at school.
The Institute for Innovation and Creativity (IIC): Learning Enhancement Programs (LEP), assists the parents in the selection process by recommending shadow teachers that have been screened by the director of the IIC:LEP/SNFLC, and other administrators, and are considered the best fit for their child. Education, previous classroom experience and personality traits of the shadow teacher are criteria which are considered. The recommended shadow teacher will be knowledgeable in the specific needs of the child and able to support the child in an inclusive environment.
The parents will then interview the recommended shadow teachers and select the one they wish to work with their child.
Shadow teachers are expected to continue their learning by attending workshops and seminars that focus on students with learning differences.
Shadow Teaching is a progressive form of assistance that acts as a resource for the school and the parent. Communication and collaboration between the shadow teacher, the classroom teacher and the parents are essential when striving for success and meaningful relationships must be established to best meet the needs of the child. Shadow teachers work very closely too, with the Optimal Learning specialists, as well as, with the counselors, in the student services department. The shadow teacher helps provide the students with continuity in their classes and instills responsibility, fosters independence and encourages learning in their student.
When a Shadow Teacher is needed
The process begins with the student being referred to the Child Study Team (CST) by the classroom teacher or parent. The CST, which consists of the principal, the OL Coordinator, the K-12 counseling-psychologist, the school counselor, and the OL specialist, then works to determine if a shadow teacher provision is most beneficial to meeting the student’s individual needs. Other school professionals, such as the nurse, classroom teacher, director of IIC:LEP/SNFLC, may also attend the CST weekly meetings. A full battery of psycho-educational assessments, which are administered by non school-based psychologists, must be completed before a shadow teacher can be recommended to the family. Based on the findings and subsequent report, standards are set according to the individual needs of the referred student.
The Role of the Shadow Teacher
The role of a shadow teacher is to support the student that needs Optimal Learning, OL, support, in his/her school academics by helping fill in the gaps in the learning process, to help the student build self-confidence as well as to promote positive interaction in the classroom by helping the student focus on important concepts, and over all help the student to develop academic and social skills.
The role of the shadow teacher is to provide additional support, throughout the school day, academically and psychologically, to those students enrolled in the Optimal Learning (OL) program that need this additional support. The shadow teacher supports the student in many ways, including filling in the gaps that exist in the learning process, helping the student build self confidence, promoting interaction in the classroom, and ensuring the student stays focused in the classroom. The shadow teacher also helps the student be prepared and organized for class, helps the student with the approaches to learning and reminds him/her to be a responsible and committed student.
The student benefits from the shadow teacher because ….
- the student follows regular classroom instruction and interaction with his/her peers.
- the student learns to build on his/her strengths and not his/her weaknesses.
- the student receives educational enrichment.
The school benefits by the shadow teacher because there is a collaborative effort to meet the special needs of the particular student.
The parents benefit because they have daily communication with an adult who knows what is going on in school and what events are taking place. Additionally, the parents have a sense of safety and security for their child.
The role of the shadow teacher in the classroom is to help his/her student
- stay focused;
- participate appropriately in class;
- notify the teacher if he does not understand the material;
- function in an environment where there are many distractions;
- be positive in his/her approach to new tasks; and helping him/her to gain self control.
- improve communication by maintaining eye contact;
- encouraging him/her to ask for help from his/her teachers;
- having him/her share special interests with the children;
- helping him/her to respond appropriately to his/her classmates in social situations;
- seeing that he/she compliments his peers when appropriate;
- prompting him/her to initiate discussions with his/her peers;
- encouraging him/her to learn the interests of his/her classmates.
Every child is unique; therefore, the approach and teaching methods and techniques used by each shadow teacher with each specific student will differ.