I have always been of the belief that Professional Development is first the responsibility of an individual and then an organizational investment. Over the years I have invested in my ponderings to sharpen my skills in special education and to analyze my current practices. In an environment such as this one where finances stand in the way of needed development one has to be opportunistic and create an environment where one can grow regardless.
So recently, I embarked on training in a decoding program that has been part of community development efforts in Zimbabwean local schools for a few years now. My goal was to see what strategies are being used in the community and evaluate the strategies I currently use. It was nice to have discussions with other educators outside of the “IB world” and I found the same issues discussed in international communities of which I am part of, such as the ECIS, My IB and the online course forum Coursera, relating to decoding have the same strands. Perhaps with different names and pronunciations the same rules apply across the board.
Decoding has always been an area of great interest to me as it is one of the most essential tools and skills needed by children and especially children with Learning Challenges, more specifically Dyslexia. The part that stuck out to me the most was the use of rhyme and rhythm in decoding and breaking up word sounds, I know a few students that will enjoy this particularly. I had been thinking of new ways, particularly multisensory methods to teach phonemic awareness, decoding readiness skills such as breaking words into syllables, graphemes, diagraphes, trigraphs, quadgraphs etc. The introduction of spelling rules also allows for the growth of vocabulary and this area will be beneficial to my EAL students. I plan on using the multi-sensory elements of this program to liven up my phonics lessons and am hopeful this will be an exciting improvement.