Monday, 9 January 2017

How to support and work with support staff within Further Education, some tips on best practice I have learned.

So this post is a bit of an eye opener today, appreciating the support and care that our back office troops play in the role that we have as teachers.

Some of the teachers I have worked with do not value the staff they have, previously working as learning support, I felt undervalued and under-appreciated in my role which made me want to take the step forward to becoming a teacher. I believed that I could do something different within further education and I can work with people based on their value as people rather than their position within the corporation.

I have met a wide variety of staff and friends through my current role, learning support staff who will bend over backwards to help you as well as exams, administrators and other professionals who enable you to complete your role in an effective and manageable way. As teachers, we get so caught up within embracing students that we need to also learn to embrace the hardworking staff that keep us running smoothly day in day out.

How best can you help these staff in their role. I will give you some tips to ensure that you not only improve your practice within your organisation, but also will enable you to develop meaningful working relationships with your support staff and colleagues.

1) Always say please and thank you to support staff every single time they work with you

As a learning support member of staff, a thank you was all that was needed to make me feel valued within my role. Share your thoughts within your classroom with these staff members and realise that you are not the only person who experiences this in your class. Be sure you are sincere about particular support that you have received during your lesson, especially if there was something that you would have struggled with otherwise.

2) Treat your support staff as your colleague, not your servant.

There is nothing more demoralising than seeing support staff being treated poorly by other people, I have a serious issue with people who judge their worth based on their position within the company. I will defend my learning support and administrators actions if they are faced with a difficult decision. Be willing to listen to the needs of your learning support staff and administrators should they need help with a particular problem. Within Further education, support staff in your classroom is very much a privilege, be sure to let them know how grateful you are that they are there.

3) Be empathetic to your support staff's needs and help them develop with you

As a relatively new teacher, being aware that some of the support staff may be more experienced within student behaviour is vital to ensure that you are at the forefront to deal with issues in your classroom. This is particularly helpful when working with staff who have frequent interactions with students before they enter your classroom, you can gain an insight into behaviour of challenging students within other lessons so that you are prepared to respond to your students best interests.

4) Finally, judge your effectiveness of deployment of support staff in your classroom

Start a dialogue with your support and administrators, do you feel that they are being used to their best effectiveness within your classroom? If not, talk to them, they may be feeling the same way. It might be obvious, but ensure that you build a rapport with your learning support in the classroom (especially if they are regular attenders in certain groups) as well as the many administrators that help you complete your tasks day to day so that they are more than willing to help you in your time of need.

Your support staff are there to help you, so be sure to help them in return. Start the change to create an open, empathetic and positive working environment, your students will benefit massively because of it.

This post is dedicated to an amazing colleague who sadly passed away over the christmas holidays. Thank you for all your support and help with our students Nicky, you will be missed.

Enjoy the rest of your week teachers!

- Matt