Experts at NCC: Dane Howard-Stone

Experts at NCC: Dane Howard-Stone

What subject do you teach?

I am proud to call myself a SEND specialist teacher. This means I can teach a little bit of anything and everything, dependent on the needs and wants of the learners. In my role, I teach everything from Maths and English to daily living skills and community living. My main goal though is to teach creativity, independence, self-advocacy, and confidence to the learners.

Why is your subject relevant?

SEND is an extremely relevant subject in today’s society. We help people with learning differences learn how to live independently and move on to help them gain work skills and experience, with the aim of gaining paid employment and living as independently as they possibly can.

I also find that every single person on earth has some sort of learning difference and learns in different ways. It is important in education and life we learn to understand these differences and treat everybody as an individual.

What’s the best thing about teaching?

The best thing about teaching for me is the creativity and problem-solving. There is no better feeling than when you find ways to help each student understand a subject or task and break down barriers through your own and the learner’s creativity. Utilising learners’ creativity boosts problem-solving, critical thinking, and their ability to make connections between subjects. It also allows the learner to utilise their individual talents and enjoy their learning experience.


How did you get into teaching?

I started work in a residential rehabilitation hospital for people with dual diagnoses of LD and mental health needs, as a Senior Support worker. During my time there I would help the service users work on their independence skills to help them live independently in the future and move into their own homes. From there I applied to be a specialist educational support worker at Redbridge college and within 4 weeks of starting at the college, I was put in charge of a social skills group, for learners with EHCPs across the college. It was while doing these sessions I really developed a passion for teaching and completed my level 3 in education and training. When I completed my training, a job opened up in the SEND department as a tutor and a job coach. From there I completed my level 5 in education and training and developed into the teacher I am today.

What is it like to work at New City College?

I love working at New City College. Since I joined as a support worker, the college has helped me develop my career to becoming a teacher and has supported me when I have requested to go to different training sessions to continue developing.

I also enjoy working with the staff all around the college, who are extremely supportive of one another. From the LSAs, teachers, managers, security staff, receptionists, exam staff, and admin workers to the principals I have felt very supported throughout my time here.

What advice would you give to an early career teacher?

There is so much advice I could give but for now, I will keep it to these pieces of pure wisdom:

1: Know that plans will go array and not work out the way you want them to, but this is okay and completely normal, and an excellent way to learn and develop. Remember to make notes about things that can be improved and that are going well!

2: Teaching can be overwhelming when you start, but it gets easier, I talk from experience, so my other piece of advice is to try and focus on improving one area at a time. Set little goals you can achieve either for the coming day or the coming week before moving on to bigger goals as you become more confident in your role.

3: Talk to the other teachers, LSAs, and learners for ideas and support. There is so much expertise and creativity all around you, utilise it!

What has been your biggest teaching challenge?

My biggest challenge was when I started teaching, I was definitely a little out of my depth. I was unsure about how to best teach, write schemes of works and lesson plans. However, I had some incredible people around me to support and by the end of my first year I was flying and it led to one of my biggest achievements.

What has been your biggest achievement?

It is so hard to think of just one achievement. Every day there are different achievements for me and the learners.

I’m extremely privileged to be in my position, and I have helped learners achieve skills the learners, their parents, and carers weren’t always sure were possible. I helped one learner with identifying their feelings and articulating their wants or needs. When previously he would lash out at people, when he was upset, he now is able to show and tell people how he feels and identify what he can do to help regulate his emotions.

Another big achievement was during my first year of teaching when I was a tutor for the Supported Internship course, which is designed to help learners gain work skills and work experience, ideally leading to paid employment. At the end of the year, we achieved a 75% success rate of paid employment which is well above the national average of 50%.

Who has inspired you the most?

I have had many inspirations in my teaching from my manager to the teachers and staff I see all over New City College every day, creating new and clever ways to best support our learners.

However, when I started teaching, I watched a TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson called ‘Do schools kill creativity?’ He spoke so clearly and with passion about how important creativity is in the classroom. His views on education and creativity have greatly inspired me and I continue to watch his videos and read his books to inspire me to this day.