In addition to National Workshops, Educational Band Visits and Peer Educator Training, PULSE has an extra focus on a couple of regions. We have one team running tutor sessions in Northern Cape, and we have one team serving the Free State bands. Tutor sessions are basically training that happens more frequently, for a shorter duration of time, and for only one tutor team. When we do this, we travel out into the regions and do a half-day training intervention with one band. The advantage of this model is that we are able to give more frequent training to specific teams and regions. Also, the smaller groups give more room for everyone to participate and engage, and we get a chance to address specific challenges the different bands are facing in their everyday activities. This way we can put even more emphasis on implementing PULSE strategies into the bands and into the tutors teaching.
All bands in Field Band Foundation (FBF) are inclusive, meaning that they welcome all members regardless of race, culture, gender, religion or disabilities. However, the bands of Free State have an extra focus on inclusion of children and youths living with disabilities. According to Statistics South Africa, Free State is the region of South Africa with the highest rate of people living with disabilities (http://www.statssa.gov.za/?p=3180). The special focus on inclusion in this region by Field Band Foundation is therefore based on the specific needs of Free State, and the natural topic to choose when we do tutor sessions in this area is of course Disability Awareness and Inclusive Teaching.
When we normally provide training in this topic we give a more generalised overview of the subject, but in these sessions, we encourage the tutors to take the knowledge we provide and apply it to real life experiences in their bands. This way the material will be even more relevant to the tutors, and they will get to practice how they can apply the knowledge we teach into actual situations they are facing in their work.
The PULSE teaching material contains content on inclusive teaching skills. Of course, we need to be accommodating and strive for accessibility when it comes to physical disabilities, but teaching members with e.g. intellectual disabilities might give you a different set of challenges. Some disabilities are not visible, and we might not know what type of disability a member is living with. However, we do not need to know a diagnosis to pick up on some traits that people living with intellectual disabilities might have, and we do not need to know a diagnosis to respond to these challenges and do the best we can to accommodate people living with them.
Some challenges you might find in your band are attention and memory problems. To accommodate for this, we make sure to mention things like the importance of a stable learning environment and how we can communicate with our members in a clear and efficient way. We talk about the importance of using repetition when we teach and how we can work on keeping our patience in a learning situation. We also emphasize the value in using practical examples and demonstrating your teaching, and not only using words and telling members what you want them to do. Generally, we encourage an approach to teaching that lets you identify the individual strengths and challenges in every member, and to use your knowledge, skills and creativity to find a way of teaching that fits your members way of learning. The challenges you might face in your teaching will be varied, but so are the solutions as long as you remember that everyone can learn, grow and contribute to the band.
Written by/Pictures by: Emely Ruth Waet