Learning Differences and Extra Support at Learnlife
Learnlife is a learning community born of a mission to provide a personal, purpose-filled learning journey that enables ALL of our learners to navigate an increasingly complex future. While we are not a learning community designed specifically for learners with learning differences (“LD”), we do recognise that they, given the right support, can be very successful within our paradigm. This document highlights the support systems based on scientific evidence and practical experience that produce positive results when implemented in healthy partnership with the learner’s family.
When it comes to learning differences, our vision is born out of extensive knowledge regarding the relationship between neuroscience and learning. Our program is designed with close collaboration between the Learning Team and leading LD experts in the local and international ecosystem. This collaboration allows us to infuse best practices into everything we do and aggregate current evidence-based practices. It also allows us to offer a completely personal way of designing extra learner support within our own hours and within our own space.
We prefer the term ‘Learning Differences’ to define what traditional systems label as Learning Disabilities. We understand that neurodiversity has always been present in humans. Indeed, it is precisely those differences that have helped our species survive and evolve. Sadly, learning differences are often exacerbated by traditional programs and viewed only as impairments. At Learnlife, we see things differently. We celebrate difference. We have embedded evidence-based components into our learning program to remove the traditional roadblocks and focus on the strengths and abilities that our learners possess.
By deconstructing many of the obstacles that LD learners face within the traditional schooling system, we have reconstructed opportunities for them to become problem-solving champions in a world where agility, creativity and innovation will be needed to solve future challenges. Because self-direction and collaboration can sometimes be challenging for some kids who learn differently, our paradigm “positively challenges” them to keep growing this global skillset everyday in everything that they do at Learnlife.
RESPONSE TO INTERVENTION (RTI)
We use an international model called RTI (Response To Intervention) to ensure that we are responding to learners’ needs with the right strategies at the right moment. Depending on the needs of each learner, we combine different types of support strategies and tools to find the optimal fit.
The Learnlife interpretation of RTI is very broad and designed to allow the multidisciplinary RTI Team to present and discuss learners who may be having difficulties on the emotional or learning level. RTI Team members usually include:
- Lead Learning Guide
- Guidance Counsellor
- Specialists as needed
- Group-Specific Learning Guide
RTI Meetings are held at regularly established times during the week. Learning Guides present or give follow-up reports on cases in which learners are showing signs of distress, frustration, sadness or repeated failure in the learning environment. It is not uncommon for a Learning Guide to be involved in 2-4 cases at any given time. Therefore, meetings are organised so that a Learning Guide can present or report on all of these cases in one meeting.
KEY: Each case is allotted 15 minutes in order to produce 2 or 3 concrete support strategies and data comparison/documentation.
RTI cases are tracked through a CRM platform that allows learners to be tracked (using codes rather than names) from their entry into the RTI process all the way to their exit into the Observation phase. All communication among team members and with families and experts is recorded here. Progress meetings are held every trimester, and families receive a monthly briefing on the remediation work done in coordination with the RTI team at Learnlife as related to the Learner’s Personal Learning Plan (PLP).
ALL Learnlife learning guides are well trained in Universal Support Strategies for learning differences. This enables them to differentiate the learning objectives, embed strategies and respond to needs of learners within the mainstream setting.
ALL learners participate in Executive Functioning Bootcamps led by the learning team, and all learners quickly become accustomed to working on socio-emotional issues through Real Talk sessions for the great benefit of the community. We also use choice of space for work, 1:1 check-ins, peer support, content delivery through multiple-mediums (text, audio, video, etc.), choice of output for learning experiences (LXs), as well as use of Monday.com online tools to support organisation and visual structure. This ensures that base-level awareness, acceptance and understanding of learning differences is extremely high.
Targeted Support includes weekly individual sessions focused on remediating a specific underlying area of weakness or supporting content objectives. It also includes more specific coordination with family and closer monitoring of a learner’s needs. There are two ways to deliver this support:
- Push In Support: Support at the learners’ point of performance
- Pull Out Support: 1-on-1 or small group support for content work
Targeted Support represents an additional cost of around €250 for approximately 4 sessions per month plus coordination and follow up with the learning team. This cost is in addition to Learnlife’s monthly fee.
Intensive Support requires a dedicated support professional who is with the learner 1-on-1 at specific times during the day or, in some cases, the entire day. Intensive Support is provided to learners of all ages whose needs are better met through coordinated interventions and strategies. Families, learning guides and deep learning specialists work collaboratively to determine the structure and strategies necessary for the learner to grow and develop. Learners eligible for Intensive Support will have a Personal Learning Plan (PLP), which outlines any necessary accommodations the learner may require as well as specific goal areas the learner is working on. PLPs are reviewed semi-annually.
Intensive Support can represent an additional cost of between €500 and €2000 per month, depending on the hourly cost of the dedicated support professional and the number of intensive hours required. This cost is in addition to Learnlife’s monthly fee. Families agree to this additional cost by signing our Support Contract.