The SPELD NSW Member spotlight shines a light on our individual, school and professional members to share their stories.
This month Janelle Ryan tells us why she joined the Teachers’ Certificate Course and SPELD NSW.
I began my teaching career over 30 years ago. I had heard about the AUSPELD network and became more interested in their services when I was teaching in a learning support role. In 2017 I enrolled in the SPELD NSW Teachers’ Certificate Course, and soon became aware that despite my years of teaching experience, I still had a lot to learn about how to best meet the specific learning needs of neurodiverse students.
The course was excellent, giving me insights into teaching methods backed by research which would enable me to really make a difference in the classroom. At that time I also began tutoring one-on-one, and was able to apply my skills in designing individualised programs to address the unique learning needs of each of my students.
How does your SPELD NSW membership support your practice?
Since commencing as a SPELD NSW tutor in 2017, thanks to my additional training I have been able to individually assist over 30 students presenting with learning differences such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, ADD, ASD, 2e, or a combination of these. I receive referrals when my details on the database match those of families seeking one-on-one learning assistance. The referral officers at SPELD take a number of phone calls each day from parents seeking advice and support for their children, and parents speak highly of their experience and knowledge. The Parramatta office now also offers screening and assessments by educational psychologists, and I have been able to recommend this service to families many times with confidence.
Which SPELD NSW services have you accessed and found useful?
I have continued my involvement with SPELD by attending further professional learning courses run by them, and by volunteering at working bees. The SPELD NSW Tutors Facebook page and regular morning teas for this group are further points of contact, offering support and enabling interaction and exchange of ideas with like-minded educators. I have had an article published in the SPELD newsletter, which serves to keep teachers and parents of students with specific learning difficulties up-to-date with current research, resources and seminars.
The library at the SPELD NSW office is a valuable source of decodable readers, workbooks, teacher manuals and texts which I utilise in my teaching and tutoring for a nominal sum, and which may also be borrowed by parents who are SPELD NSW members. I have recommended the organisation’s highly informative and practical parent seminars to the families of my students, and have also attended these myself as a further means of broadening my knowledge of ways in which to accommodate students’ diverse learning needs.
Thanks to SPELD NSW, many teachers and tutors, including myself, are better informed as to how we may utilise evidence-based teaching methods to assist students with specific learning difficulties, either in the classroom or in an individualised setting. Parents also know they have an organisation they can turn to for help in making decisions about the unique needs of their children. The work done by SPELD NSW is invaluable, and the educational journey of many students and their families is being enhanced every day by the services they provide.