I went to a drop-in session today. I had the flyer, LSS (Learning Support Service) drop-in session from 2:00pm till 4:00. Meet other local SENCOs, discuss the new Code of Practice, referral criteria, tea, biscuits – it was sounding good! Naively I thought it was a session that you could drop into any time between 2:00 and 4:00 and other SENCOs would be there, the LSS team would be there and we would chat about the new Code of Practice over a cup of tea, whilst nibbling a biscuit without having to deal with 101 other things that seem to arrive in my room. I had some other jobs and meetings to do and toddled along to the hotel where the drop in session was being held, parked my car, wandered into the room, only to find the PowerPoint on graduated responses, what a successful lesson might look like for a child with SEND, evaluating whether interventions were cost effective amongst other things in full flow.
I decided not to go and get a cup of tea, I found a space to sit that didn’t disturb too many people as I sat down, then decided that the hotel’s heating system was so efficient I’d need to take my coat off so had to struggle to remove my coat without causing a major disturbance. I must have been there 5 or 10 minutes before I was actually cued in to what was being said. Even then my brain was worrying over the fact that I was supposed to be back in school for 3:30 for the launch of an exciting new project and how I wasn’t going to be able to get out. I was also thirsty. I had had a meeting before leaving school but I hadn’t worried about not having a drink with lunch as I was going to my drop in session.
This was all very minor stuff, I have the printout of the PowerPoint, I heard enough of the talk, I can catch up. No one was asking me questions to check my comprehension, there isn’t a follow on lesson tomorrow that depends upon having understood today’s lesson.
Some of our children arrive at school having had little/ no breakfast – if we know we can sort it. Some of our children know all the ins and outs of their families’ relationships. Some of our children know that their mother’s are pregnant almost as soon as they have conceived. Some have too many details about evictions, prison sentences, terminal illnesses. We can put up visual timetables, we can tell them which lesson is coming next but perhaps we should not be so surprised that some of them seem not to be switched on and ready to learn. Perhaps we should be asking, how do they concentrate at all?