Award winning Aimee shares her teaching passion

Last year Aimee Jackson won a Silver Award for Excellence in Special Needs Education in the Pearson Teaching Awards. She was one of only five shortlisted entrants in her category to attend a glitzy ceremony in London to celebrate excellence in education in the UK.

Here Aimee shares why she is passionate about teaching autistic students and the importance of providing an education for young people with special needs.

Teacher Aimee acts out the book Where the Wild things are with student Pavol

“So, I won an award. I am not a tooter of my own horn and found the whole experience extremely challenging. As an award winner, I had to wear dresses and go to Westminster and smile and chat and attend a ceremony, more smiling, more chatting and lots of clapping. It was a lot.

I won an award for teaching. Teaching is what I love.

My work focuses on humans. Where they are now, where they want to be and how I can help them to get there. I support people to develop methods of communication so that they are able to tell people when they want a haircut. I support people to problem solve when changes occur unexpectedly and they initially think it is the end of everything. I make sure that if people need to bounce or swing to feel able to learn, they bounce or they swing.

My passion is to show the people that I work with that they are valued and have value, despite what societal structures may dictate. My students do not “suffer from Autism”, they are Autistic people.

My role in their lives is to empower them to achieve an adult life that they can enjoy, have control of and feel fulfilled by. My role is not to make my students “fit in” and “be normal”. My role is support understanding of how things usually happen, and help to develop understanding of expectations.

Learning has to have purpose and be meaningful, and my career has taught me that practical experiences trump theoretical ones every time when it comes to learning how to function as an adult human.

Some people may struggle to acknowledge that this is “education” but I will happily disagree and continue to challenge my students to know and understand how the world works.

I won an award for it, so I must be doing something right.”

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