AURAK is Making a Difference in Special Education

In connection with the UAE’s Innovation Month, the American University of Ras Al Khaimah’s Dr. Sharon Waller, PhD., CED provided two educational sessions to enlighten, support, and encourage local teachers of determined students.

The workshop was divided into morning and afternoon sessions. The morning session began with a welcoming speech from Provost Prof. Stephen Whilhite of AURAK expressing the importance of education and the difference it has made in his life. Immediately after him, Dr. Sharon launched into “Teaching the ‘Determined Ones’ and Struggling Learners,” loaded full of strategies such as: chunking, highlighting, graphic organizers, multiple modalities, and the use of manipulatives; all techniques teachers could instantly implement in their classrooms to help struggling students with learning disabilities.

The underlying message to teachers was simple and clear: “You have a passion for teaching that child. You are making a difference. Do whatever it is you can do.”

The afternoon session, “Teaching Students with the Most Challenging Behaviors,” gave vital classroom management tips that are effective not only with special needs students, but to all students in any classroom.  They dived into how to analyze and diagnose disruptive behavior, data collection, creating a behavior intervention plan, strategies to overcome behavior issues, incentive systems, teaching the concept of behaviors/consequences, using nonverbal cues, proximity control, behavior contracts, and she stressed the importance of building individual relationships with students.

Paola, a local Ras Al Khaimah teacher, found the workshop extremely beneficial for her classroom, “I received a lot of information that I can use in a classroom immediately.”

Dr. Sharon was astounded by the attention attracted by the workshop and hopes to be of further assistance to the community in the future, “I was overwhelmed by the interest.  I know there is so much support the teachers need, but there’s no way to give them everything they need in a two hour workshop.  I hope that through the university we will be able to offer more informational opportunities to the community to help with students known as the determined ones and students who struggle with learning. My biggest hope is that students in Ras Al Khaimah have a positive impact in their education because of something their teachers took away from my workshop.”

President Prof. Hassan Hamdan Al Alkim was delighted that AURAK was able to be an advocate for the special needs community, “I am overjoyed that the university possesses the ability to support Ras Al Khaimah with the Department of Counseling, Testing, and Disability Services, qualified faculty such as Dr. Sharon Waller, and services needed to ensure educational progress and success.”

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