The concept of shadow teachers is new to many. In fact, most people may not have come across this term before; I myself came across it only when I started working in a nursery.
Shadow teaching is a professional service offered by schools and families to help manage the needs of students who have learning difficulties. In other words,
a shadow teacher is a teacher who is mainly responsible for one student during his/her early school years. Some students have academic, behavioral or physical weaknesses, so they need extra support and more focus. A shadow teacher would help the child integrate and play with the other children.
What does a shadow teacher actually do?
- Ensure the safety of the student
- Observe the student’s behavior
- Follow school policies
- Be a role model
- Communicate with parents
- Promote interaction in the classroom
- Help the student build self confidence
A shadow teacher should help the child with their communication and social skills. They should help the child integrate and play with the other children, and must be patient and know how to give direct instructions.
A shadow teacher may also need to assist the child with his or her academic skills. However, it is important not to do the work for them. They help the child understand what is expected of them and give them the appropriate time to respond. In some cases, the shadow teacher might need to use visual cues such as pictures and signs to clarify any confusion that might arise. They must help their students with their needs, while ensuring they accomplish the task by themselves; this is very important as you don’t want your son or daughter to be dependent on others to finish their own tasks, not only at school but also in day-to-day life. What we want is to help the child become independent.
A Mother’s Experience of Using a Shadow Teacher
I came across a mother who hired a shadow teacher for her child at school. She said that it was really hard to find a qualified shadow teacher with any background in teaching children with special needs. She finally found one who needed a job and spent some time working with her and her child, training her to understand her son. It’s important to remember that patience is the key to success here.
When we talked more about it, she mentioned something very important and critical. There are two ways to hire a shadow teacher:
- The school provides your child with the shadow teacher. In this case, you will pay the salary of the shadow teacher besides the school fees. You can easily search for schools that provide this service.
- The parents will search and interview recommended shadow teachers and select the one they see is fit to work with their child. In this case, you will be responsible for the process and you will provide the shadow teacher with a fixed salary.
In both cases, it might be a little bit costly, but remember that the important thing is to provide your child with the care and help they need. In order to ease this process and make sure that your child is provided with the help he/she needs, you should have frequent team meetings with the teachers and therapists. This is fundamental to ensure the implementation of the program is actually working.