On Wednesday 7 April, Middlesex University Dubai’s Centre for academic Success, hosted the third series of Colloquium on Inclusivity events, which was initially launched in 2018, these events bring together teachers, lecturers, counsellors, SENDCos and students from over 15 different universities in the UAE. The aim was to highlight the particular challenges faced by students of determination in the blended/online environment and share strategies for coping. It was yet another testimonial to the commitment that Middlesex University Dubai has towards fostering a culture of inclusivity, not only an institutional level, but with a community focussed outreach.
Ian McNiff, Group Director of Schools, Athena Education shared his own experiences as a person of determination who has made a remarkable impact during his long and distinguished career in Education. He provided some valuable guidelines to the audience that are crucial to understanding learning differences amongst students. Following this, three students from Middlesex University, Ridhan, Kaveen and Rose, shared strategies and approaches that have enabled them to overcome significant challenges and achieve success as autonomous learners. Nora Tahir, the student support counsellor, acknowledged the detrimental impact that the pandemic has had on the mental health and well-being of people and also provided suggestions to mitigate these effects.
The most heart-warming aspect of the session was the open and honest discussion that took place between the speakers and the participants which was clearly directed towards understanding what kind of attitudinal shifts are required to support students of determination through this pandemic. Based on all the discussions that came through, please find below a synopsis of all the tips and strategies that were shared.
What can faculty/staff do to help students of determination during the pandemic?
What can students do to help themselves?
What can students do to help their peers with learning differences?
-challenge your own assumptions about people of determination which can often be a barrier to a fully inclusive learning environment.
- prioritise what students CAN do instead of focussing on what they can’t do. Highlight their strengths rather than their differences
- use language as an enabler rather than a deficit for labelling students of determination. It should be a ‘listening’ language. The following link is helpful in this regard:https://www.apa.org/pi/disability/resources/choosing-words
- Ask them what support they need/ want and not what you assume they need/want
- Provide opportunities to the students. Enable them to make connections and make the most of the chances they are given
- diversify the information that is given to students- smaller chunks of information are always more helpful
- make a schedule
- stay as organised as you can (use calendars, organisers etc)
- space activities through the day
- choose the best time to study that works for you
- for online studies, find a dedicated space to sit
- exercise, as it helps to stay energised
- find a good hobby to focus on
- eat well- healthy food!
- seek help: from all people/services that can provide support (and that you trust)
- cultivate an awareness and appreciation for individual differences
- sign post any support that is available
-be empathetic in your interactions
-do not make any assumptions about a person of determination
- become inclusivity champions
A huge thank you to Siobhan McNiff, for organising and facilitating this event and for always being the most ardent inclusivity champion in the building! As always, she was well supported by the rest of the CAS Team in ensuring that this was yet another successful event. We look forward to hosting the fourth series in 2022!