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Looking For A Shadow Teacher? Here’s What You Should Know

By: Varsha Tue, 29 Sept 2020 6:33:37

Looking for a Shadow Teacher? Here’s What You Should Know

Does your child need a shadow teacher? Does the school provide one? How will your child adapt to one?

You must have heard the term ‘shadow teacher’ doing the rounds but chances are that you do not know what exactly it means. The term may sound daunting but many parents prefer a shadow teacher over isolated special needs set-ups or special schools.
Who are shadow teachers?

Shadow teachers are co-teachers or para-educators, who monitor and assist a specific child’s progress in class. In India, they are often assigned to children with special needs. They sit with the child in a regular classroom and make sure that the child is given social, educational and physical support in a classroom that outstrips them in all these categories. The goal is to make sure that they help these children to eventually become part of a mainstream classroom and give them the ability to function individually in such a set-up.

Lead teachers, especially in large Indian classrooms, are unable to pluralize teaching to suit children with specific learning needs. These can be children with behavioural, developmental or learning disorders. Shadow teachers bridge this gap and take the child with special needs under their wing.

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Says Dr. Dhaval Mody, Vrudhi Research Foundation, which offers a post graduate diploma course in shadow teaching, “Shadow teachers can also be trained to assist children with many things – children with autism or ADHD, those with physical handicap or visual impairment.”

Why opt for a shadow teacher?

Inclusive classrooms

Many parents of special needs children want their kids to be part of a mainstream, inclusive school instead of putting them in special schools.

Early intervention

According to Dr. Mody, shadows are especially beneficial to children in the 3 to 8 age group. This is when early intervention is possible and we can identify behavioural and developmental disorders early, thereby charting goals and making better progress.

Individual attention

For children with special needs, individual attention is immensely helpful.

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Behavioral needs

For children with autism and ADHD, shadows are assigned irrespective of class size. They make sure that a child blends in with the class.

Peer-to-peer interaction

With shadow teachers, special needs children can interact with their peers instead of working in isolation or in a resource room.
Constant change in teachers

A parent whose daughter had Asperger’s syndrome opted for a shadow because there were constant changes in teachers. Some were good, the others were not able to get a handle on the situation. There were also different teachers for different subjects.

What do shadow teachers typically do?

- Set tasks and work through a child’s challenges.
- Individualize the teaching curriculum to suit the child
- Ensure that the child does not disrupt the class. Any class, however flexible it may be, should follow a basic protocol and shadow teachers help their children follow this and understand the dynamics of social interaction.
- Help those children who are unable to understand instructions or process signals and cues.
- Be a bridge between the teacher, student and parent. A shadow reports to the parents about the child’s progress. A Montessori that we spoke to told us that the facilitator works closely with the assistant teacher and sets important goals for the child. The shadow and school teachers should work in unison, or else, they cannot be on the same page.
- Wean the child from her assistance and make him or her independent. This is crucial and should be the long-term goal.

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