Special Needs School
So, you’ve just arrived in Toyama, and been told about your different schools. Not only do you have a mainstream school, but you are also going to visiting a Tokubetsu Shien Gakko – a.k.a. a special needs school. Or, maybe your base school has a course for students with learning challenges. Don’t be daunted – this could be one of the best experiences of your time in Japan.
There are several types of special needs schools in Toyama. These cater to students with different learning challenges including vision and hearing impairment, learning difficulties, and mental or intellectual disabilities. In recent years these students have been given the chance to interact with ALTs, just like students in mainstream schools. You will find that teaching these students will challenge you, just as teaching your other students will. However, you will often be rewarded with great, genuine enthusiasm and energy from these students.
As you have heard, each situation is different, which applies to these schools as well. Each school will have very different setups to cater to the needs of its students. In fact, in many special needs schools, it is especially important to remember that every student is different. Within each class there can be a large variation between the abilities of the students. However, most special needs schools will have smaller class sizes and sometimes higher teacher-student ratios to assist with managing individual learning challenges.
The best thing to do is to talk to your JTE about the level of the students in each class you will be teaching, and work with them on making your teaching plan. Your JTEs will have experience and will be able to guide you on your way to becoming an effective teacher. Remember – be patient, have fun, and your students will too! Gannbatte ne!