Navy training system welcomes students with learning disabilities

MS Joshua Pickering teaches a class of students in Building N92 at CFB Esquimalt.

Royal Canadian Navy

For Petty Officer 2nd Class (M2) Daniel Pelletier, receiving a letter from the grateful parents of a student with learning disabilities was unexpected and touching.

A 20-year veteran and instructor at the Naval Fleet School (Pacific), PO2 Pelletier teaches the trade of naval technician.

Along with fellow instructors, Petty Officer First Class David Van Egmond and Petty Officer Joshua Pickering, PO2 Pelletier was thanked by the student’s parents for showing “outstanding leadership and dedication , especially towards the development of future seafarers”.

Current Canadian Armed Forces policies and directives clearly state that every possible support should be given to sailors with learning disabilities to promote fairness and understanding. Specifically, as far as the Navy is concerned, it is a practice that is in place throughout its entire training system.

“Fostering a respectful culture so that we generate personnel with the right skills by empowering our people, both our sailors and our instructors, is at the heart of what we do,” said Captain (Navy) Matthew Coates, Commander, Naval Personnel and Training. Group, which is the RCN’s primary command for naval education, training and course development.

Putting these policies into practice takes time, dedication, compassion and the willingness to quickly adapt any program to accommodate people with learning disabilities.

“I just want to make sure that all of my students at school have the best possible start and foundation so they can build on that experience and enjoy a long and successful career,” says PO2 Pelletier. .

In this case, the course involved a lot of online technical reading, which can be challenging for someone with certain learning disabilities. The parents of the sailor, who is just starting a career in the navy, appreciated the efforts made by the three instructors to ensure that their child could pass the course.

“Some would say these instructors were just doing their job, and while that’s true, we all know there’s a difference between just doing your job and caring about the job you’re doing,” the parents wrote, noting that the instructors were responsive, asked what the young sailor needed and found ways to adjust the course, while ensuring that course content was followed and standards were met.

This is standard practice according to Chief Petty Officer First Class (CPO1) Pascal Harel, the school’s Chief Petty Officer.

“It’s something we do every day,” he says. “We are instructors and we have to find ways to help people learn. We want people with disabilities to learn like any other student. When we welcome students with disabilities, they often have different needs and we do our best to accommodate them. Instructors do what they can to ensure that all students succeed.

For PO2 Pelletier, he makes it a point to talk to students to see how he can best support their learning.

“I always offer my free time in the morning and at noon to give extra help to those who need it. When I teach my classes, I pay attention to my students to make sure everyone is following along, and I try to see who might need extra help. When questions are asked by a student in class, I make sure to include the whole class in my explanation so I know everyone is on the same page. »

To ensure that no student falls through the cracks, PO2 Pelletier and his colleagues monitor everyone’s test results as each class progresses.

“If a student fails a quiz, for example, we use a tool called Training Experience Difficulty, which lets the school know that a student is struggling and helps us as a team check that student to see what kind of support they need.”

Fostering an inclusive and equitable training environment allows students to demonstrate their ability to achieve a specific standard, putting them on an equal footing with their peers, says CPO1 Harel.

“We have a duty to accommodate all students and help end the stigma,” he says. “The caring and dedicated characteristics of our instructors demonstrate good leadership and help young sailors succeed in their naval careers.

MS Joshua Pickering

MS Joshua Pickering teaches a class of students in Building N92 at CFB Esquimalt.

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