唐詩韻老師有兩個身份,一個是SEN學童媽媽,另一個是特殊幼兒工作員,現職在博思會工作,這機構專門幫助讀寫障礙的小朋友。

讀寫障礙是與神經系統有關的學習障礙,小朋友雖然智力正常,但由於腦力發展及功能有別於一般人,以至在聽寫及聽寫文字方面遇上很大困難,出現閱讀理解及寫作上的問題,但要謹記,家長的支持和陪伴對有讀寫障礙的兒童成長與發展是非常重要。

 

早前唐老師接受商業電台《有誰共鳴》訪問,分享如何與 SEN孩子相處以及工作點滴,以下是詳細訪問內容。

— 第一節 —

01. 《小天使》

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我嘅機構是專門幫助讀寫困難的小朋友,負責擔當學前組老師,服務對象係學前階段嘅小朋友,每次上完堂之後我都會同家長分享返小朋友喺課堂當中學習到嘅內容,以及觀察課堂中小朋友有冇一啲特別狀況,因為SEN嘅小朋友都會有一啲情緒,而呢啲情緒會影響到佢哋嘅學習效能。

 

有時會聽到老一輩嘅家長,初時會質疑:「點解要帶小朋友去上呢啲課堂?我覺得呢啲課堂冇乜用喎!佢而家唔識啫,佢大個啲就會識㗎啦!」「唔使嘥時間同埋錢去上堂啦」等等!當日子一路過去,佢哋就會慢慢睇到小朋友嘅轉變。

 

如果家長早於學前階段已經發現小朋友嘅情況,繼而幫佢去做評估並初步確診,再讓小朋友去上一啲相關課堂支援,小朋友慢慢成長,由佢幼稚園高班到佢畢業進入小學,對於小朋友之後嘅學習係有好大嘅幫助同效用。作為家長,或者你會覺得佢哋學得好慢,經常學完都唔記得,但我深信將來有一日,小朋友會突然間好似火箭咁上升得好快。剛才我講過陪住小朋友去成長需要多啲愛,自己作為媽媽,喺陪住小朋友嘅成長過程裏面,縱使要去捨棄一啲嘢,如工作、目標等等,但係能夠陪住小朋友成長,我覺得係一件好開心嘅事,因為小朋友喺我哋心目中永遠都係一個小天使。

02. 《勇氣》

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喺日常工作裏面,有時我會觀察到小朋友或者稍遜喺某啲能力,家長或者暫時未係好接受到小朋友有SEN呢個狀況,當我哋想同家長表達學生嘅情況,溝通都需要一啲技巧。

 

作為一位媽媽,我都曾經聽過兒科醫生或者從臨床心理學家口中話我嘅小朋友可能有言語障礙,所以我好明白家長係會不太接受呢個事實。作為老師將心比己,都要諗下點樣同家長去溝通,讓家長聽落不太抗拒,俾多啲時間佢去接受SEN嘅狀況同需要。

 

呢幾年我睇到家長心態上嘅進步,依家嘅家長如果懷疑小朋友有讀寫困難,佢哋無放棄之餘,更會主動幫小朋友尋求相關服務,例如交評估申請表,我十分欣賞佢哋好快就已經消化咗自己小朋友嘅問題,畀小朋友盡快得到支援,呢個係一個好好嘅心態,對於過來人嘅我來講,要接受自己小朋友有SEN嘅狀況,真係需要一份勇氣!

03. 《世上只有》

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當小朋友有情緒時,佢可能喺屋企或者學校發生過一啲事,當佢踏入博思會門口,我就會察覺到佢同平時有啲唔同,或者以往佢會好開心同我分享佢嘅事,但今日入到嚟就見到佢冇出聲,心情好一般,咁呢啲時候我都會去關心一下佢。我會主動同佢傾偈,唔好一嚟就問佢發生乜嘢事,或者調返轉,我會主動同佢分享今日發生咗嘅事,從而令佢發現到自己有啲唔開心想搵人傾下,疏理一下佢嘅情緒,讓佢心情好返啲。縱使喺課堂上我希望佢哋可以去做我預設咗嘅內容,但當小朋友有情緒時,抽返少少時間比佢去傾吓計,可以牽動到佢之後學習上面嘅效能,我覺得呢點係需要,亦係重要。

 

喺機構裏面唔單止得我一位老師,仲有其他老師,有時我都會同其他同事交流傾下學生嘅情緒狀況,大家亦會分享自己嘅經驗,睇下點樣幫到學生,希望學生來到嘅時間,可以幫助到佢解決學習上嘅困難之餘,亦都希望將愛俾到佢哋。當佢感受到有愛,有人陪住佢一齊成長,佢自己慢慢都會有一個繼續進步嘅心態!呢個愛唔單只家庭要有,老師比學生嘅愛同樣重要。

04. 《紅日》

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陪小朋友去搵支援服務嘅同時,作為家長亦要幫自己打打氣,我哋可以透過類似家長資源中心去搵我哋嘅同路人。當你搵到同路人,你嘅心情就會好舒服,好似我之前喺照顧自己小朋友嘅歷程上,我有時都覺得唞唔到氣,好想同人傾吓,但又怕個啲無SEN問題嘅家長唔知點諗而難以啟齒。但當搵到同路人,例如參與一啲SEN家長小組,情況就會好唔一樣,因為呢度有好多SEN小朋友嘅家長,大家都知道有SEN小朋友嘅心情,可以好暢所欲言同其他家長交流。當你慢慢去接觸唔同嘅家長,發現原來唔淨只得自己一個有相同情況時,你嘅情緒亦會有所調整!我覺得呢一方面對家長支援來講都係好重要!

 

最後我都希望帶出一個訊息,家長若發現小朋友有SEN,首先唔好覺得係一件難以啟齒嘅事,應該抱著正面嘅心態,就係幫小朋友及早介入,及早畀佢哋有適當嘅支援!在此我想送「紅日」呢首歌比大家,人生裏面係會有高高低低,問題總可以解決!

— 第二節 —

05 《歲月如歌 》

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我係一位媽媽,或者我先由媽媽嘅角度去同大家做一個分享。

 

我有一個小朋友,佢有特殊學習需要,如果聽眾屋企都有好似我哋叫SEN嘅小朋友,大家都會好明白呢個狀況!

 

仲記得我嘅小朋友去到一歲左右,應該可以發到「爸爸」呢個音,又例如單詞「奶」,佢會叫「奶奶」,佢開始會有一啲意識。我以前喺幼稚園都工作咗一段時間,憑住自己嘅觀察就發現我個小朋友喺講說話上面比同齡嘅小朋友好似有啲慢,手指郁動唔係太多,只係發出「嗯」「嗯」「嗯」咁樣,見佢情況咁樣我就開始教佢,但經過一段時間狀態都好似停滯不前,我哋就開始着緊同埋有啲擔心佢。家長如果有小朋友都知,小朋友會去健康院打一啲疫苗,好好彩嗰邊健康院有姑娘就問我「你對於自己小朋友嘅發展上面有冇一啲擔心?」跟住我都好直言、好坦白就同姑娘講:「有啊」,好快健康院嘅姑娘、健康院嘅醫生就幫我小朋友做咗一個初步嘅評估,佢哋都覺得我小朋友有一啲言語上面嘅問題。

 

喺呢度我想分享一首歌「歲月如歌」,當我聽呢首歌嘅時候,會諗作為一個家長,我有個小朋友係好開心,但係原來小朋友嘅成長過程當中或會出現一啲狀況,就好似歌詞「天氣不似預期」,所以今日就帶呢首歌同各位分享。

06 《陪著你走》

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頭先提到我小朋友有言語問題,就轉介佢去評估中心做評估,喺佢兩歲零十個月嘅時候,評估結果就話佢有言語遲緩嘅問題。當時我嘅心情還好,由於我自己過往嘅工作,令到我明白到當家長知道自己小朋友有SEN問題,就要去搵一啲支援去幫助我嘅小朋友,我好相信及早發現、及早戒入可以幫到我小朋友有更大嘅成效,於是我就抱住呢個態度,不斷喺我屋企附近去搵一啲相關嘅資源。

 

其實喺呢個年齡來講佢仲未正式入學,就算入到去學校亦都要睇嗰間學校本身佢有冇一啲資源去幫我小朋友。正正就喺我屋企附近,好好彩我就搵到一間機構係有一個持續服務嘅親子小組,其中有一個小組就係幫助有言語遲緩、言語困難嘅小朋友,可以比家長陪伴小朋友一齊去上堂。小組嘅導師係一位言語治療師,佢哋會搵能力同年歲相近嘅小朋友夾埋同一組,咁上完堂之後佢又會伴隨著有一啲相應嘅訓練,即家居訓練,我覺得呢樣都好重要。第一可以比家長學習多啲方法去幫助小朋友點樣喺言語上面嘅發展,同埋了解需要注意嘅地方。第二就係可以俾小朋友多一個方法去重溫,對小朋友係有好大嘅幫助。

 

跟住落嚟呢隻歌叫做陪著你走,點解我會揀呢一首歌,因為我會覺得我雖然知道我小朋友係SEN,但係我自己都希望可以一路陪住佢成長,所以就想同大家一齊分享呢首「陪著你走」

07 《愛得太遲 》

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心態好重要!我自己好好彩,屋企人知道小朋友有言語遲緩,大家都會互相扶持。我之前喺一間幼稚園做全職嘅工作,同我先生商量之後,我就決定唔再做全職,一心一意去陪住我小朋友,安排多啲時間喺屋企同佢做家居訓練,例如幫佢重溫句子,可以嘅話將佢融入係生活裏面,例如佢想飲奶,咁可能最初係單詞,跟住就變詞語,將「奶」變做「牛奶」,慢慢去引導佢加長句說話。直至我個小朋友入學,明顯見到理解同表達方面都比同齡嘅小朋友弱,雖然佢而家係咁樣,但唔代表佢將來一直都係咁,只要我陪住佢走呢條路,我覺得總有一日,佢都可以好好成長。

 

小朋友不經不覺就K3畢業,我真係好開心,因為嗰日言語治療師同佢做完最後嗰份評估,就同我講囝囝喺言語同理解嘅發展都合乎年齡。呢一刻我真係好開心,我同仔仔嘅努力,推動到去做到呢件事。

 

如果家長真係發現到自己嘅小朋友係有特殊學習需要的話,千祈唔好白白浪費咗啲時間,唔好太遲去幫助你嘅小朋友,更加唔好放棄!在於我作為過來人分享,要趁早喺佢哋細個嘅時候作出支援,總有一日你就會見到曙光同希望,亦都睇到佢有相當大嘅進步。在此送上呢首歌:愛得太遲。

08 《在世界中心呼喚愛 》

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如果言語遲緩落後得比較慢嘅小朋友,其實係會影響到佢嘅社交能力。喺幼稚園階段,裏面嘅老師、職工等等佢哋都係好有愛,當見到小朋友有啲情況嘅時候,佢哋都會好主動走去問小朋友。但係去到另外一階段到小學時,情況就會不一樣,小學要靠佢哋自己,有問題嘅時候要舉手提出,例如佢要鼓起勇氣,舉起隻手同老師講要去洗手間,但係言語遲緩嘅小朋友唔係好識去表達自己,因為講得唔好,令到佢哋更加冇自信心!

 

去到小學嘅時候,最初頭嗰年,我一路觀察住我個仔仔,睇吓佢認識朋友同社交方面係點樣樣,同老師溝通時會唔會都唔敢講。我小朋友都算好順利咁樣適應咗嗰一年,學校嘅老師都好好,會同我主動去溝通,我亦都會問返老師仔仔同同學仔相處有無啲唔係咁理想嘅地方。我覺得我好好彩,老師話佢哋相處唔錯,仔仔會識得點樣去同佢喜歡或者志趣相投嘅朋友仔一齊玩,喺相處過程裏面亦冇見佢出現爭拗,喺小息或者放學期間,大家亦會互相打招呼,傾吓幾句,咁我就知我小朋友真係長大喇!

 

仲有之前喺出面嘅一啲服務,甚至我自己喺屋企裏面同佢重溫嘅練習,佢都可以應用返出嚟,呢個係好重要!小朋友有SEN需要嘅時候,大家都需要付出多啲愛,我覺得愛係可以幫助你去解決一啲困難,所以同大家分享呢一首歌:「在世界中心呼喚愛」。

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希望各位支持一下博思會!博思會已經成立20年,一直幫助有讀寫困難嘅小朋友,同時亦會資助經濟上有困難家庭嘅學費,想呼籲有心人都可以幫下博思會,讓博思會可以繼續支援有經濟困難嘅一群小朋友。

支持博思會工作

博思會致力以專業及實證為本的教學方式,幫助有讀寫障礙嘅兒童跨越困難,重拾學習嘅興趣同自信。博思會擁有中英數及早期讀寫支援嘅專科教師團隊,另有多位長期合作嘅臨床心理學家、教育心理學家、職業治療師同言語治療師作為專業夥伴,為數以百計嘅讀寫障礙學生喺課餘同埋校內提供適切以及持續嘅學習支援、專業評估同埋支援服務。此外,博思會亦都會定期舉辦家長講座活動,同公眾分享有關讀寫障礙嘅最新知識同埋教學嘅心得。

Sharing from English Subject Teacher Miss Vicky Shek
Trust and Understanding are Catalysts for Students’ Learning

Miss Shek can take care of each student’s needs through small group learning

 

When it comes to learning English, quite a few students with dyslexia will choose to avoid or even dislike it out of feeling helpless and not knowing where to start.  To them, English is like an alien language.

 

After becoming Pathway’s English teacher, Miss Shek noticed that every student with dyslexia has his/her different needs, with varying learning ability and difficulty.  That is why she starts by understanding the student’s psychological condition.

 

“Every student has his/her strength and weakness, and students with special education needs often resolve to negative behaviour as an expression of their shortcomings or fear. As long as the teacher does not form conclusions about them based on their behaviour, or negate that they also have a desire to learn, trust and understanding will eventually develop and become catalysts in the students’ learning.”

 

Miss Shek recalls her experience when she provided in-school support at a secondary school and how impressed she was about the changes that occurred in one of the boys.

 

“John* was a Form One student. He was a typical boy who liked to appear strong, and created for himself an image of being ‘a little bully’. At first John was always causing trouble in class and arguing with his classmates, but gradually he became eager to learn and was the first one to arrive for class. His worksheets also became much neater! I was extremely pleased and appreciative to see this change because it reassured me that my teaching was effective.”

 

Before joining Pathways, Miss Shek had taught secondary school students with special learning needs such as autism, hyperactivity and a minor degree of reading and writing difficulties. She admires Pathways’ small group approach in teaching 2-3 students per class, and feels that the students here are quite lucky to receive the individualized intervention support which was much needed.

 

 

 

Overcome Difficulties One Step at a Time

 

And then there was another Pathways student Ken*, a Primary Five student who was caring and clever. He was prefect and boy scout at school, and was also part of the elite class; who would have thought that Ken had to deal with the helplessness and difficulties typically faced by students with dyslexia?

 

“English reading and spelling cause Ken great frustration, and he often tries to avoid them. He still has a lot of room for improvement. I hope he will not give up, and will strive to manifest his talents in other areas.”

 

Miss Shek often encourages her students to face difficulties with courage.

 

“No matter how unwilling you are, you have to continue to take forward steps and keep going, even though it may be small bird-like steps. No matter how big the challenge ahead is, you must try to overcome it one step at a time. For example, if you cannot remember the pronunciation of certain words, use your mobile phone to record its sound; if you have difficulty reading a whole paragraph, start with one sentence. If you dislike reading English, watch a TV show or a movie. Reading comics can also be a good way to learn!”

Providing real-time online classes at the centre

 

Importance of Collaboration with Parents

 

Besides the student’s own effort and hard work, it is important to collaborate with parents.

 

“Every parent who sends their child to Pathways is caring, and is willing to work together with the teacher to help their children continue their learning at home. There were parents who told me, “Miss Shek, xx is doing better in his dictation, or xx’s examination scores have improved, thank you!” And I replied, “That is a result of your child’s hard work, your praise should go to him/her.”

 

Miss Shek continued to explain that parents and teachers of children with dyslexia in most cases can only “see” their learning difficulties, but not really “feel” it personally. If their child works hard and succeeds, parents should give clear verbal encouragement; if the child has tried but is not making it yet, parents should continue to show support with patience and love.

 

This year, face-to-face class was often disrupted by the pandemic, and students often had to take lessons from home. This brought great challenge for students with attention deficiency. In order to motivate their concentration in front of the computer monitor, the teacher has to spend time to create and design more class activities, and to break learning units down into smaller parts.

 

”For example, for regular reading activity, I will record the content in advance and use it for listening exercise material. After showing the video and introducing the new vocabulary, I will ask the students to do one or two listening exercise, before reading the sentences or short paragraphs for the students to check their answers. This makes the students more willing to read,” Miss Shek explained.

 

The thoughtfulness behind Miss Shek’s teaching is well appreciated by her students and their parents.

 

*pseudonym

 

Source from 2019-20 Annual Report

 

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Help Children with Dyslexia
Bridge the Learning Gap

Ms. Shum is a hard-working teacher.  She is always deep in concentration preparing for class when you meet her at Pathways.  During her close to 10 years tenure as a teacher, she has come across students with different special education needs (SEN), such as physical disability, intellectual disability, visual impairment, attention deficit/hyperactivity, autism spectrum disorder.  At Pathways her focus of course is on students with dyslexia.  To her, they are students who have varying learning difficulties and need professional intervention.  With experience gathered from mainstream schools supporting students with special education needs, she understands the kind of pressure students with dyslexia are facing and knows how to steadily help them especially to increase their self-confidence.

 

Below Ms. Shum shares her world of teaching at Pathways…..

By using the original Japanese “Where’s the Fish?”, the most unforgettable class was created.

小金魚逃走了2

The Most Memorable Class

That was the class where the picture book “Little Goldfish Escaped” was used as teaching material. This is a classic work by Japanese picture book writer Gomi Taro.  I happened to buy the Japanese version while travelling in Japan.

 

During the first lesson, I asked my two primary one students: “Can you read if you are illiterate?” One of them shook his head and hands.  The other one said you can look at the pictures.  Then I showed the Japanese version of “Little Goldfish Escaped”, pointed to the words 「きんぎょが にげた」, and asked them to read the name of the book.  Naturally they could not read it.  Then I said, ”Neither can I. Why don’t we try and see if we can understand it by going through the book?”

 

During that class, we went through 《きんぎょが にげた》 three times. The first time, the students told the story while looking at the pictures. The second time, they tried to guess what the words in Japanese were saying. The third time they read it, I encouraged the students to write the words or sentences on post-it-notes and stick them onto the book.  As soon as they heard they had to write, they started moaning and groaning. But when I told them this was to help the other lower grade students to read the book, they immediately sat upright and tried to convert the verbal language into written language sentence by sentence.  I wrote the sentences on the whiteboard, and they carefully copied them onto the post-it-notes.  Finally they read their created version confidently.

 

When the next lesson came, I showed the students the Chinese edition of “Little Goldfish Escaped”.  They were very surprised and could hardly wait to read it. After reading it once, I turned to their ‘created’ Japanese version of “Little Goldfish Escaped” and asked them to compare the two versions. Like detectives, they went through each word and sentence to compare their similarities and differences. When they came to a sentence which was exactly the same, they screamed in excitement!  I praised them for becoming young writers, as great as Gomi Taro. They left that class feeling very satisfied.

寶雯老師 (左) 參與博思同樂日,並與博思會執行幹事林太 (中) 及同工拍照留念。
Miss Shum (left) joined the Pathways Foundation Activity Day and took a picture with Mrs. Fanny Lam (Middle), Pathways’ council member and her colleague.

 

 

The Most Memorable Student

 

Student A on his first day of class, entered the classroom pouting and looking angry.  He said without even greeting the teacher, ”I don’t know any words, I don’t know anything!”

Teacher: “Do you know how to count?”

Student A: “I know how to count, but I don’t know any Chinese words.”

Teacher: “Not even one single Chinese word?”

Student A: “No!”

Teacher: “That can’t be true.”

Student A: “I’m not lying, I really don’t know one single Chinese word.”

Teacher: “You must at least know 3 words!”

Student A looked puzzled. The teacher wrote the student’s name on a piece of paper and asked him to read it.  He read it aloud immediately.

Teacher: “I thought you said you didn’t know any Chinese words.”

Student A laughed.

 

Two years later, his mother told me what he said one night when they were having a tete-a-tete talk. The student told her since he was learning Chinese and Mathematics at Pathways, he only had to go to Pathways and did not have to go to school. The parent’s intention was to share with me the fact that the student liked to come to Pathways to learn, but it led me to think how long had the student been harbouring this thought in his mind.

The Most Unforgettable Parent

A parent used her spare time to teach the student writing at home. She saved the “model essays” to cope with his tests and exams, filling up several exercise books.

Several exercise books filled with model essays! I cannot imagine how much time and effort that took.  If it were me, I wonder if I would have had the persistence to do so.

Ms. Shum has been in the education field for many years. She understands well that the more one learns and teaches, the more one realizes the difficulties

and has increasingly discovered her own deficiencies. There are times when she feels discouraged, but she is thankful to Pathways in providing teachers opportunities to try different ways of effective teaching.

 

寶雯老師與中學老師分享中文教學技巧及個案實例。
Ms. Shum shared Chinese teaching skills and case studies with teachers from a secondary school.

Challenges of The New Learning Era

In response to the pandemic forcing face-to-face teaching to be halted, Ms. Shum had to adapt to the new learning era like other teachers and switched to teaching online. In the process of change, the biggest challenge was the need to reproduce teaching material which must not only attract students’ attention with pictures and texts, but also think of ways to interact with each other to get immediate feedback.

To be more well-prepared, she searched for different interactive teaching materials on the Internet, tried about 20 games, did role-playing with other Pathways teachers, and simulated online classes in the strive for excellence.

 

When asked what words of encouragement can be given to children with dyslexia and their parents, one famous saying came to Ms. Shum’s mind: “God closes one door and opens another window.“ Some may think it is a cliché, however it brings out an important positive message of encouragement that there is no need to dwell on the disabilities of these children, and instead, through the support of teachers and parents, they are given some opportunities for success along the way to make them feel that “I can do it”.

 

Source from 2019-20 Annual Report

 

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Help Children with Dyslexia
Bridge the Learning Gap

“When parents learn that their child may be dyslexic, it is natural that they will go through a difficult time accepting it. It will be hard work helping their child cope with their studies, but they must never give up.”

Ms. Tracy Tong is Pathways’ Early Literacy Support teacher. Being also a mother to a son who has special education needs, what she wants to see most is for parents to support and face the challenges together with their child, instead of being frightened and avoiding the “difficulty”.

“If we, as parents, are not committed to helping our child, then how can we ask for help from others?”

Ms. Tong used to be a kindergarten teacher.  She noticed that many parents do not understand dyslexia. When a teacher discovers that a child had apparent learning difficulties and wishes to explain and suggest support methods, often parents are  unwilling to accept the reality, and avoid facing the problem. They simply hope that the teachers at school will help their child overcome such learning difficulties.

In contrast, parents who seek help from Pathways mostly possess a fair amount of knowledge about dyslexia. They understand that children with dyslexia have normal intelligence, they only need a different way of learning. That is why most of these parents accept the suggested intervention methods, and are willing to help their child face the difficulties.

To encourage parents to support their child outside of class, Ms. Tong tries her utmost to maintain close communication with the parents.  Every time after class, she pastes the content of what she taught in the student journal; if the parents come to pick up their child after class, she makes it a point to brief them on their child’s progress.  For those who are unable to pick up after class themselves, she communicates with them every month to understand more about the child, so that she can design customized content for them.

Since Ms. Tong mainly teaches kindergarten students, she is experienced in handling pre-school children with mood problems in class. If a child does not want to participate in the small group activity, she will tell them softly: “It is fine if you don’t want to play now; you can join us when you want to play later.” Usually the child will be aroused by the group interaction, and will gradually overcome the negative mood and join the group activity.

Ms. Tong has taught over 50 students. The one who impressed her the most was a student whose progress in literacy learning was very slow. That student had been at taking class at Pathways for almost two years, and had experienced different methods of literacy learning. Yet he did not seem to be making any progress. But in the third year he was like a changed person all of a sudden, and made great strides in learning. He became even more confident when he entered primary school.

Ms. Tong revealed that her feelings during the time she taught this student was like a roller coaster ride. “I doubted whether I had used the correct method to teach him.  Looking back, I realized that what he needed was time to absorb the knowledge he had been taught. As long as the direction is correct, the reward will eventually come. When I shared this case with my colleagues, they were just as amazed and delighted as I was.”

As our students grow up, they will be able to master and apply the skills they learnt. This is the source of satisfaction for our teachers.

Source: 2018-19 Annual Report

Ms. Tong used group games to make students more engaged in learning.
Ms. Tong used group games to make students more engaged in learning.

Teachers used different picture books and teaching materials for preschool students.
Teachers used different picture books and teaching materials for preschool students.

 

Ms. Tong has joined Pathways for five years, and she enjoys the company of her colleagues.
Ms. Tong has joined Pathways for five years, and she enjoys the company of her colleagues.

 

Mr. Panny Chan (also known as Chan Sir) is into his tenth year at Pathways. With a total student service count of over 200, Chan Sir is one of Pathways’ most experienced mathematics teacher.

Back then, following the reform of the local education policy, the administrative workload of full-time day-school teachers became very heavy. Chan Sir, however, wanted to keep his focus on teaching students. So when he came upon the opportunity of working at Pathways’ for its After School Support Programme, he took the offer, and has been teaching students with dyslexia until today.

As classes in Pathways are mostly in small groups or even individual-based, Chan Sir can design individualized teaching plans to suit each student’s pace of learning.  When a new student joins, Chan Sir will start by establishing a mutual friendship. He will observe closely and communicate often with the student during class, so as to understand whether the student’s numeracy difficulty is due simply to a weak memory, or if it is a problem with number sense. Sometimes Chan Sir also pays attention to the emotions of the student, identifying the reason behind the fear or dislike of mathematics, so that the correct intervention method can be applied.

“Students with dyslexia are usually also less confident and lacking in social skills. That is why it is very important to understand their feelings. Once there was a student whose parents consistently urged him to do mathematical exercises. This led to his dislike and refusal to learn mathematics. When I come across students who have poor learning motivation, I try to teach them through games, hoping that they slowly grow to like the subject. Only by increasing their motivation to learn can marked improvements become evident, and this process takes time,” Chan Sir explained.

Among his students, Chan Sir finds most impressive a girl who has been his student for almost seven years. She came to Pathways when she was in Primary 2.  She was disengaged in class, and reluctant to do any math exercises. Chan Sir used different multi-sensory methods to arouse her interest in the subject, which facilitated her understanding of the mathematical concepts. Her grades at school gradually improved; she came second in the whole grade when she graduated from primary school, and remained among the top students in secondary school. Teacher and student are like friends now, and every class is a happy experience.

Through his many encounters with students with dyslexia, Chan Sir discovered that it is very important to identify and support children with the difficulty as early as possible.  “Parents should pay attention to their child’s learning starting from lower primary school, or even before that. Generally speaking, if a child has difficulty counting numbers or skipping over numbers at pre-school stage, parents may want to have screening tests done to identify whether the child is at risk of dyslexia, as this may cause the child to have numeracy difficulty,” he said.

He explained, “The thinking pattern of younger students is not fixed yet, so they are more open to new concepts. This helps to make learning efficiency more apparent than in older students, and effect from the appropriate intervention support will come even sooner!”

Source: 2018-19 Annual Report

Chan Sir showcased teaching materials to parents.
Chan Sir showcased teaching materials to parents.

 

Build friendship with students and pay attention to their emotions.
Build friendship with students and pay attention to their emotions.

 

The most important task is to enhance students' learning motivation.
The most important task is to enhance students’ learning motivation.

 

Chan Sir discussed students' performance with parents on Parents' Day.
Chan Sir discussed students’ performance with parents on Parents’ Day.

 

Ms. Nonette Tsang has been teaching at Pathways for 12 years. She enjoys teaching as it is an exceptional opportunity to make a difference in a child’s life, and moreover she considers it as learning process for herself, too.

“Every child is unique. One has to think of the best way to teach every child,” said Ms. Nonette.

She holds this view that students with dyslexia should be regarded as “different learner”, or “differently-abled”. Given good opportunities and a suitable environment, they can be motivated to learn.

Some kids can have a bad day in school, so Ms. Nonette will observe their mood first. If they are not ready, she would talk to them about their day or have games to make them relax, in order to get them engaged in the lesson.

“In the teaching-learning process, everyone around the child counts to make that child feel confident and motivated,” Ms. Nonette emphasized the importance of creating good learning atmosphere.

Fifteen-year-old Alex Hoeflich is one of her former students. When Alex first came to Pathways in 2011, he only knew five letter sounds. Also, his writing showed inversions in some numbers and letters. With efforts given by Ms. Nonette and in partnership with Alex’s mother, the young boy is now a confident learner. In 2018, he won the Hong Kong Young Writers Award in fiction, and his poem was published in the book “New Journeys to the West.” Alex is now studying in a boarding school in the United Kingdom.

“Parental support is crucial to the success of a child,” said Ms. Nonette, “Parents should totally accept their child’s condition and be that child’s number one fan.”

She also admired the mother of another student Lucas, who came to Pathways when he was seven years old. Lucas’ mother always finds the best support for him so that he can unleash his potential, helping him to become a confident boy. “She believes in her son’s talents and capacities, even if he struggles in the area of language. She always makes sure Lucas gets the best resources and support available, even though it means he has to change schools a number of times,” she added.

Teachers at Pathways have always regarded the building of trust with students and parents as top priority. Ms. Nonette appreciates the parents who are involved in their children’s learning. She also enjoys working with people who share the same passion and love for children, and values the regular training opportunities that allow her to interact with experts in special education.

“Teaching at Pathways is both challenging and rewarding. I believe there is still so much more to know about children with dyslexia.” Ms. Nonette concluded.

Source: 2017-18 Annual Report  

Alex (first from left) was excited to receive the Hong Kong Young Writers Award on stage.

 

Pathways Staff Development Day

Ms. Crystal Chan joined Pathways as Chinese subject teacher in September 2017. Before then, she had taught Chinese at a secondary school for eight years, and was also the SENCO (Special Education Needs Coordinator) in the school. Ms. Chan felt that the move from a conventional school to a non-profit organization gave her greater opportunity to apply the theoretic principles she learned to actual practice.

“Working within a school, I had to make sure that the students can keep up with the curriculum. Yet it was difficult for me to closely follow up with each individual student who had learning difficulty, and I could not fully utilize what I have learned to help them due to resource limitations,” said Ms. Chan. Incidentally, Ms. Chan came across an opportunity to know about Pathways, and realized that Pathways was an organization that specializes in supporting students with dyslexia, led by experienced professionals in the medical and education fields. Hence she decided to join the Pathways team.

From her teaching experience at Pathways, Ms. Chan is pleased to find that she can attend to the individual needs of her students within the small group setting of two to three students. Teachers can also design various learning activities to rekindle students’ learning interest and build their confidence. In addition, under the guidance of Professor Cheng Pui-Wan, Adjunct Associate Professor at the Department of Educational Psychology of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the Pathways teaching team constantly shared insights in teaching to help students with dyslexia bridge the learning gap.

Ms. Chan was most impressed by one Primary 5 student who had very good memory. He was able to remember Ms. Chan’s explanation on how to understand a character by separating its different parts, and then apply the technique to learn new characters on his own. His significant improvement was also the result of his mother’s effort in cooperating with the teacher. As the child was not very talkative, Ms. Chan suggested the mother to share with her son each other’s happy and unhappy events every day through the use of mobile phone recordings. After practicing this for more than a year, the child showed improvement in his ability to organize his speech, while also scoring better grades at school. Moreover, this helped to strengthen the mother-child relationship.

“At Pathways we always focus on communicating with parents because we firmly believe that the support from parents at home is essential. The teacher offers support and guidance, yet eventually it is the parents who can provide continuous training to their child. As their teacher, I can see my students making improvement in learning while developing a better relationship with their parents. This brings me a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment that is hard to find in a conventional school environment,’’ said Ms. Chan.

Ms. Chan also added that children with dyslexia is like a“mini computer” with limited memory capacity. Hence their learning should be guided in simple and systematic ways, while teaching them to apply the knowledge to other situations. This way they can memorize less, and avoid jamming up the memory space in their “mini computers”.

Source: 2017-18 Annual Report 

Ms. Crystal Chan introduced Chinese support programme to a parent and her child.

Ms. Chan participated in a parent seminar.

A group photo of teachers at Pathways.