Cairns is the only diocese in the state offering Catholic school teachers an evidence-based, tutor-led learning course: Dyslexia and Difficulties in Reading.
The Dyslexia and Significant Difficulties in Reading course, which includes online and face-to-face elements, aims to assist teachers and schools to identify and respond to the personalised learning and support needs of students with dyslexia and reading difficulties.
The engaging course is the first of its kind for the diocese and has been met with high demand from teachers wanting to improve their understanding of dyslexia and other significant reading difficulties and implement practical strategies to improve student outcomes.
Teacher Tina De Castro from St Therese’s School, Bentley Park believes she has become a better teacher after completing the course.
“I have implemented phonics, fluency, phonemic awareness and vocabulary into my guided reading every morning. I have been able to support a student who has been diagnosed with phonological dyslexia and I am presently working with him in class and have used the amazing ideas I have learned in this course,” Tina said.
“It warms my heart that we make adjustments to help children so that everyone has a fair go at learning. Students who struggle with reading and dyslexia are able to learn at their pace and without fear.”
The self-paced course is broken into four key areas: understanding, assessment, interventions and case studies and participants work in a learning community with forums and group sessions led by Cairns Catholic Education tutors Sandra Barclay and Katrina Neville.
The participants are provided with evidence-based research, set SMART goals, collaborate within their learning community and are armed with extensive resources to support their learning and teaching.
“I would recommend that every teacher do this course as it has helped me so much by making my reading lessons more explicit, engaging, purposeful and seeing the results has my teaching partner and I very excited. This has been a wonderful journey,” Tina said.
The teaching staff at Our Lady Help of Christians School, Earlville (OLHOC) have also developed the knowledge, understanding and skills to support learners with significant difficulties in reading after completing the course according to OLHOC’s Assistant Principal Administration Verity Beames.
“The knowledge and understanding of what dyslexia is and isn’t, as well as the range of assessment tools available were invaluable to the setting of goals and interventions for students across Prep to Year 6,” tells Verity, who says OLHOC’s journey of school improvement over recent years has focused on building the capacity of the staff, particularly in the area of reading.
“We will continue to use and reflect upon this knowledge as we work with colleagues and parents to support the reading development of all students as well as build a stronger and consistent knowledge base across the early years classes where reading is a foundational skill to all areas of learning.”
The Dyslexia and Difficulties in Reading course is just one of the online training courses Cairns Catholic Education provides to staff to support their students’ needs and provide inclusive learning environments in our 29 Catholic schools and colleges across the Far North.