Feel, think, grow, inspire. This is the motto of the Lagoa Secondary School (Escola Secundária de Lagoa) in São Miguel Island, Azores. And if you are a student, teacher or parent here, you know this motto by heart. It applies to each student, regardless of economic background, learning ability – or learning disability.
“My school has 7th to 12th grade students that come from disadvantaged financial and social backgrounds, and many that have different learning levels and disabilities. But they all have the same dreams,” says Leonardo Amaral. “We learned that each one of them could also have a different answer to their specific learning process. It’s important to achieve the goal, although the way to get there may be different.”
How does Amaral get his students to their goal? By engaging them in their personal learning styles. And technology has helped immensely to overcome learning barriers. Amaral started using Windows Live, and it grew from there.
“Suddenly we were using more tools, each with its own pedagogical potentials: videogames in regular math and sciences classes, mouse-mischief in the language classes, Kinect Adventures as a pedagogical toll for students with disabilities such as autism, trisomy 21 or visual disabilities,” says Amaral. “We bear in mind the large variety of student levels and classes we have, as well as the different solutions and ICT tools that can be powerfully used as pedagogical tools. We use technology as a diagnostic tool, then create personalized learning programs that improve each student’s performance and success.”
It’s this thinking – the Feel, Think, Grow, Inspire philosophy (no matter what your abilities are) – that helped Escola Secundária de Lagoa earn the highest level of the Microsoft Partners in Learning Innovative Schools’ Program, being the first Portuguese school recognized in a Mentor School group worldwide.
How have you seen technology helping students with disadvantaged backgrounds or with disabilities?
About Leonardo Amaral
School Principal, Escola Secundária de Lagoa, São Miguel Island – Azores – Portugal
Leonardo Amaral has been a Portuguese teacher for 15 years, a drama teacher for seven years and the Lagoa Secondary School Principal for three years. Amaral is interested in improving students’ learning process and skills and in introducing the right tools in the pedagogical strategies that teachers and students use – in and out of the classroom – in order to improve students’ academic success.
Education: PhD in Modern Languages and Literature (Portuguese and English) – Azores University
Website I check every day: my school website – www.eslg.edu.azores.gov.pt
Person who inspires me most: My grandfather
Favorite childhood memory: Spending the summers with my family in the cornfields and pastures of the island.
Next travel destination (work or pleasure): I never know!
Favorite book: “Out on a Limb” by Shirley MacLaine