Robert is a special education teacher who always goes the extra mile for his students. Applying many different techniques both inside and outside the classroom, Robert adapts his teaching and uses technology in innovative and appropriate ways to improve student outcomes.
First, he identifies pupils’ strengths and weaknesses through differentiation and task analysis (breaking a topic into simpler parts), to ensure that all students are able to participate according to their abilities. Second, students are encouraged to learn under their own direction within helpful guidelines: topics are given for private study, and each student is later given the opportunity to tell the class about what they have learned. Robert also monitors children’s vision and hearing in order to identify those with impairments so that teaching can be adapted.
Robert also uses inclusive methods of teaching that exploit available technology. Students with cerebral palsy and disabilities have been helped to use computers so they can sit their Basic Education Certificate examination for the first time, as well as using software that helps them prepare for the final examination. Robert not only teaches outside school hours, but also advises parents on how to take care of their children with special needs at home, and mentors teachers to help prepare them for specific jobs such as facilitating workshops.
A typical example of Robert’s helpfulness comes from a pupil who was able to listen and learn at school but could not use his hand to write. Robert temporarily provided him with a laptop computer, as well as training on how to use it. The pupil was able to use the machine effectively to sit his examination. However, the pupil’s parents said they could not afford to buy him a laptop outright for permanent use. Robert therefore took the boy for a hospital assessment to obtain a medical report which would enable an application to the Accra Metropolitan Assembly Disability Fund. Robert had to take the cost of transport to the hospital upon himself, but the application was successful and the student eventually got the funds for the laptop.
Ninety percent of all Robert’s special needs students have successfully moved on to hopeful next steps. Some have gone to vocational training institutions, while some have found permanent work and others are still in education at the IPMC and the Accra Rehabilitation Centre for training. If awarded the Global Teacher Prize, Robert would use the funds to help train teachers in inclusive pedagogies, as he believes this is the best way to assist children who will need specific technical attention. He would also set up a fund solely for their unique learning needs.