Anne Margaret Smith

Anne Margaret  Smith

Anne Margaret is an English language teacher and a dyslexia assessor. She founded ELT well to bring together these two fields of education and offer training and advice to professionals on both sides.

Location Lancaster


  • I was thinking the same @JordanPutman - provision mapping seems to me like a management tool, which could be a really important aspect of implementing inclusive practices. But individual planning seems more like what teachers do, once the resources have been allocated.

  • @EleanorOdom great points raised here.

  • Interesting comments below about methods of formative assessment. I would just add that I try to get my learners to evaluate themselves, to build their self-awareness and their self-esteem. It can just be really simple questions at the end of the lesson / week (How did it go? What worked? What was hard?) but I hope to encourage self-reflection so that it...

  • @BiancaBotha thanks for the reminder that not all settings are the same - different priorities, different approaches.

  • I know what you mean @LamiyaMasmaliyeva but I feel like if we know our learners well, we can design more appropriate lessons, so they can work more effectively. Hopefully, we save some time in the long run.

  • Totally agree @HelenLi - getting to know our learners is the first crucial step towards including them, and it doesn't have to cost anything - we just have to pay attention!

  • @BrihaZainab I also chose 'challenge' and I like your comment on it. I agree that it is closely linked to other sections and that it is important that inclusion does not finish at the school gate.
    My perception is that in the UK a lot of stereotypes and preconceptions still persist, that we need to challenge. We are a very diverse country, and we need to...

  • Maybe:
    Champions of inclusion work with colleagues to implement inclusive practices across the organisation, for the benefit of all staff and visitors, as well as learners.

  • @VijilaJohnson I agree peer reviews can be really helpful - if there is a collaborative culture, and it's not just about picking holes in each other. It's a great example of having joined-up inclusion throughout the organisation. Not just including the learners, but the staff also feeling that they belong and they are valued.

  • I'm glad to see this focus on differentiation, with practical examples of how it works in the classroom. I like the way differentiation has been broken down into different categories. It's one of those words that gets bandied about a lot, but I do think many teachers are afraid it will mean a lot of extra work. Which none of us really needs!
    More than once...

  • Yes, Elisa, I agree that allowing friends to work together can be good - they are already comfortable with each other so they can focus on the task. It is a shame if they don't get to know the other members of the group. Also, there may be an established set of roles in the group (e.g. who will speak, who will write, who will nod and agree but not really...

  • @SofíaMingoranceGuerra I agree with you to an extent, certainly that students can bring different skills and perspectives to the task in hand. However, I think that it can be very good for learners who find the content easy to take the role of explainer / mentor to those who find it more difficult. Only when we can explain something do we truly understand it....

  • @MariannaChrysostomou I agree with you that if the teacher has managed to create an accepting classroom culture, it might be fine to give students different worksheets, because everybody would understand why.
    But I also agree with @VickyAnderson that it could lead to demotivation.
    I wonder whether one way forward might be to produce different worksheets /...

  • wow - sounds like you really differentiate in all sorts of ways. Great!

  • I think you're right here @SofíaMingoranceGuerra - it's about giving every student what they need, not giving everybody the same. And I agree that getting to know our learners is the most important thing we can do to be more inclusive.

  • I think this is a really important, @SamirHamani - those students who are very capable also need to be seen and encouraged to fulfil their potential. All too often, I'm afraid, if a learner is not failing, and not causing any problems, their individual learning needs are overlooked.

  • Looks like we chose the same ones :)
    Have you tried out either of these?

  • I really like 3. Three before me and 4. Random acts of kindness

    3) Encourages autonomy and co-operative learning strategies - they can ask a friend for help, but they know that they might be asked to help someone else sometime. It could be used, for example, when learners are writing, to check a phrase or a word they want to use.

    4) Nurtures a sense...

  • I think the pyramid discussion format offers a safe space for less confident learners to make their suggestions to a few peers first, before sharing them with the whole class. There is also some protection given by presenting ideas as a group. This takes the pressure off them, allowing them the time they need to formulate and refine their contributions to the...

  • I think learners have the right to be heard, and the responsibility to listen to others.
    They have the right to be safe in the classroom, and the responsibility to help maintain the safe environment.
    They have the right to be fully included in the classroom, and the responsibility to help others to feel included, too.

  • Some overlap with my ideas here, and I really like your first one!

  • I try to foster respect through understanding each other, and valuing our differences. This also helps to nurture a sense of belonging to a group, feeling safe in the learning space.

  • Maybe a value could be defined as a guiding principle that determines behaviour and choices in every day life.
    Recognising that we are all shaped by our individual experiences helps me to appreciate all the different ways that my learners perceive the world.

  • This is a great, no-nonsense talk. Love it.
    I particularly appreciate Stella Young's vision for the future where we no longer have very low expectations of disabled people and what they can achieve, and we are not surprised to find them doing 'real' jobs like teaching.

  • I think the medical vs social model framework is a good starting point to understand the shift in perception that is needed for inclusive practices to be implemented. We have to recognise that people are disabled by the environment and the systems that they encounter, and the socially just way of dealing with that is to remove those barriers, preferably...

  • I think this is an interesting way of categorising differences (cognitive / communicative / sensory-physical / emotional-psychological). It could be helpful for teachers to make sure they are considering all aspects of their individual learners' lives.
    It's also helpful to remember that these categories overlap, and students may be different from their peers...

  • @VeronicahMugure wow - 71 is a BIG class! I can see that could be a challenge. The thing is, though, that in a class that size you almost certainly have more than 2 students with these kinds of hidden disabilities. And it depends what difficulties they experience as to how you might handle the situation.
    Sometimes making small changes to the way classes are...

  • @AmirAli I agree - it's a nice idea to get the students to come up with their own set of classroom rules, if possible, then they are more likely to follow them.

  • @DenisRaúlCardosoRodríguez I think you're right - having positive relationships with learners is the foundation for inclusion, so knowing who they are (and where they come from) is really important. And we have to model the kind of behaviour we would like to see them displaying, too!

  • I think this is good idea, @VeronicahMugure - having a peer role model can be helpful for some learners. Having a supportive peer group makes a massive difference for everybody.

  • I'd love to! In the last step I was thinking that we didn't have enough information to make a decision, and now I see why ;)
    this could get people thinking.

  • I think one important point made here is that we all have unconscious bias about something. The very nature of unconscious bias means that we are not immediately aware of it (not aware of what our personal bias may be), so we need to be looking out for it and ready to listen to alternative stories to address our biases.

  • that's a really good point Ester. I think we often consider disability or ethnicity when we talk about ex/inclusion, but socio-economic status can have a massive impact on how learners can access education, in so many ways. Sadly, in many British schools, teachers start the day by making toast for those kids that have come to school hungry - they can't learn...

  • Thanks for sharing these experiences Esther. I really feel your pain. They made me think about when I was at school and my parents moved across the country. In my new school people laughed at my accent, and on the bus they used to tease me about being from 'the north'. There was one lad on the bus who always stuck up for me and chatted to me so that I could...

  • You're right @NgocDuong - the pandemic really exposed all kinds of inequalities, within countries and between countries. I was really hoping that people would start to take notice and address these issues but I'm afraid now things are going back to how they were, people are forgetting. Certainly in the UK anyway ;(
    These agreements might help to keep...

  • Agreed @UWINDEMEYEJeandeDieu - I think an inclusive school is one that everybody feels comfortable in. It's not just about those who have an obvious disability or learning difference - it's about building communities.

  • I also chose C (because I find it easier to read if I can listen as well). I liked that they contrasted inclusion with exclusion. I think that's important to keep in mind - the consequences of NOT including people. I agree with you that inclusion should be about more than just the learners. We have to model inclusion for all members of the school community.

  • Hi everyone, I'm Anne Margaret and I'm based in the UK. I'm really happy to see how many different countries are represented here. It's great to know that there are teachers all around the world working towards a more inclusive education system. It makes me feel more part of a community - normally I work on my own.

  • That's lovely! My first name (Anne) means 'Grace'. Do you think that our names affect how we perceive ourselves as we grow up?

  • I would like to think that inclusion in schools would extend to everyone who is part of the school community: students, their families, teachers, other staff, and also visitors to the school. It needs to be joined up to be truly inclusive, and this is what we are all working towards.

  • @EmokeFekete I think English Sounds Fun might be good for you. It comes with really detailed instructions for novice teachers / parents. Your son might already know some of the words, but that's fine. He can focus on the sounds and spelling patterns.

  • Emma, are you talking about your task in week 3 that you've had no feedback on? Let me know which is yours and I'll take a look.

  • Good to hear @LenkaHrůzová And remember, that sometimes we have dyslexic learners in our class who have not yet been identified, so its good practice to teach as if you have dyslexic learners there ;)

  • Sounds like a good plan, @LenkaHrůzová sometimes, comparing two confusing words and spending time thinking about the difference is exactly what learners need.

  • exactly @AbhimanyuSharma - and we don't always know when we have neurodiverse learners in or class (sometimes they are not aware!) so best practice is to assume that there students who would benefit from a multisensory approach.

  • Great to hear @LenkaHrůzová !

  • It may need to be adapted for larger classes. Maybe they could compare note in small groups?

  • great insight there @AlmudenaMartínez

  • I think that would be the role of medical professionals, rather than teachers.

  • Great idea!

  • HHmmm - yes. But perhaps the underpinning principles could be realised in a different way, more suitable for your learners?

  • Totally agree @MariaMadalenaBatim - getting to know our learners is crucial to know which strategies to use and how to implement them.

  • Maybe something the teacher could help with?

  • Thanks for the feedback @HelenROGERS It is possible to download the sound files and play them at a different pace using an app like audacity, if that might help?

  • Yes @NickyL it can be helpful to get an overview of what learners arriving in the UK can do, what they find easy and what they find challenging.

  • I know that feeling @HelenROGERS Stick with us, and hopefully by the time you get to the end of the course you will have a clearer idea of how to work with neurodiverse learners.

  • Interesting @CaraByleveldt. And yes - dyslexia / neurodiversity is REALLY complex. The more I learn the more I realise I don't know!

  • You're right @CaraByleveldt - lack of vocabulary can play a massive role in low levels of reading comprehension and so can cultural background knowledge.

  • @HninHayman I would suggest that there is nothing a dyslexic learner cannot do, given the right access to education. It's sad to hear that so many dyslexic children give up on education - that is a lot of talent going untapped !

  • It took a long time, and a lot of campaigning!

  • Oh dear @RebeccaDoe - but then, it is intended to be all but impossible for most people, so we can all experience that frustration and stress.
    Sorry about that.

  • Well, we have finished this 4-week course for another year.
    On behalf of the team, I would like to thank everyone who took part, and especially those who have been so active in the discussion forum. It's such a joy to work on the course, and to read about other teachers' experiences and ideas. Every year I learn something new from this course, and am...

  • Great summary of the entire course there @MarionEngrand-O'Hara :)

  • Good that you feel more confident @EmmaT It's hard to cover everything in one course, but maybe you have made connections with other teachers teaching the same languages as you?

  • @EmokeFekete there are so many good resources already recommended on this course, that it would be hard to suggest more!. See the list at the end of this week, for example.

  • yes, I hate it when students drop languages because they're 'too hard'. Seems to me we just need to find the right way to teach them.

  • love that 'spot the difference' idea !

  • absolutely @UschiEnsel - small steps, building on what has been secured, lots of repetition, lots of fun, and following a well-planned route, whilst allowing for the student's interests, too. It sounds so easy ....

  • Interesting insights there @LizFishwick

  • There are. As long as we allow for the exceptions :)

  • It's all connected, isn't it - worth helping students to see the connections, I think.

  • Yes, all of these ideas can (should) be adapted to suit your context.

  • Our engaged participants are what makes this course so interesting. We all learn from each other. Thank you for your contributions.

  • Thank you for joining us @KarinS

  • Wow - that all sounds great @RuthR Glad to the hear the comic materials worked well for you. Keep up the great work!

  • Great that you have picked up on the two most important messages of the course @AbhimanyuSharma Good luck with your future teaching!

  • Thanks for your contributions, too @DairaRutaMorusa without participants discussing the issues and sharing their ideas, there would be no course!

  • Great - mix it up a bit @AbhimanyuSharma !

  • nice - thanks for sharing the color vowel chart - I'll have a look at that and think about how I might use it with some of my learners. Quite advanced vocabulary, but maybe for fine-tuning sounds?

  • Absolutely, I think that good practice is inclusive practice. So even if you only have a few learners who are (known to be) dyslexic, others might well enjoy a range of activities and benefit from (for example) really clear instructions, repetition of work covered before, taking smaller steps in the work progression, and all the other things that we recommend...

  • With my adult learners (Entry level ESOL) I did use the colour code when we were looking at the alphabet in class. We did different activities with it from what is shown here, but still the colour connection helped some to remember the names of the letters (especially the vowels).

  • I think that's a key point @DairaRutaMorusa - sometimes we have to choose to introduce less new material but spend more time reinforcing, repeating, reviewing... Better that the learners get a little really securely than be overwhelmed with so much that they end up being confident of nothing.

  • I think that many of the ideas presented in this course would need to be adapted for different contexts. Maybe focus on the principles and see how they could be embedded in your setting.

  • OOhh - great - thanks!

  • @SusanaBykov I half-remembered that NILE might do something, but I can't see anything at the moment. Let's keep our eyes open for such courses - then we could share if we find anything.

  • @SusanaBykov I know that you work with young adults in a business context. I also work with adults, some at university, others with less education.
    I'm not aware of any similar courses aimed at teachers of adults. I'm curious - what do you think would be different in a course solely focussed on adult learners?

  • true words there @JenniferMcCoy
    Language teachers tend to have enjoyed learning languages at school, just like maths teachers were good at maths. It's a great learning experience for teachers to put themselves on the other side of the desk once in a while.

  • Thanks for the recommendation!

  • Oh that's great @GillianLeigh - do let us know how it goes ;)

  • Nice ideas @IsabelNovelo

  • Sounds good @GillianLeigh
    (Just to clarify for anyone who doesn't know the system - Elkonin boxes are basically a one-row grid on a page, empty boxes, sometimes known as 'sound boxes', used to separate out the sounds in a word.)

  • Thanks for suggesting this, Jen, sounds good!

  • There has been some research into this, but the findings are not conclusive. Anecdotally, there are many people who do seem to benefit from changing the contrast between the background and the text, but the research does not support that as a recommended intervention. (I myself, when I am tired, print papers out onto coloured paper - I find it easier on my...

  • Ah - that's important to know - WHY what you are doing is right, so that in other contexts you can make good decisions. Good for you!

  • WOW - that is fantastic feedback Heather. So great to hear that you are already implementing things we have discussed here.
    Keep up the amazing work ;)

  • Great that you want to continue learning @HeatherSchweiker I would say, in the first place, explore the resources that we have recommended. You could also look at the dysTEFL course, that this course has referred to along the way. There is some overlap, but also different material there.
    Are you a member of a teachers' association? Ask them to organise a CPD...

  • So happy to hear that you felt comfortable on this course. Thanks for your contributions, too.

  • Yes, there are always ways to avoid the excruciating stress that some learners experience with reading out loud. Modelling each line, or reading together, practising silently or picking out tricky words and then connecting them to the words around them, building them back into their sentences... Whatever works for each student is the right thing to do :)