Whether you’re new to the role or an old hand, being part of the support team is an ever-evolving job. Building effective relationships with the students and adults you work with is essential, but how can these be nurtured so that teaching and learning happens to the highest standard possible? These ideas may help:
If you are new to the role, you should be given induction into the college generally, and the post specifically. Make sure that your role is crystal clear, so ask all the questions you need to at this stage. Aim to memorise names!
It may sound obvious, but the importance of effective working relationships, not just with the students you work with but also all the adults, are of paramount importance. Work at building rapport every day. Relationships can be central to transforming behaviour and habits of learning.
You are part of a team. Time may not always allow it, but working closely with other people, wherever possible, may help you to be more effective. Catching up with other support staff and ring-fencing time to speak/feed back to colleagues you are working with can contribute positively. In a college that maximises the use of support staff, there is a strong sense of collaboration and a valuing of the unique roles of the team.
If you get the chance, link up with support staff in other colleges, perhaps through social media such as twitter.
Knowing the answer to some key questions will ensure that you have the greatest impact possible: What, specifically, are you employed to do? Who, specifically, are you employed to work with? Are there any Education, Health and Care Plans that you need to be aware of? Does the Special Educational Needs Coordinator have any further information for you that will help you to support specific students? What information is available to you? What sources of further information are available to you? What continuing professional and personal development will you have the chance to take part in?
Be a team
The lecturers and other staff members you work with will need you to be a watertight team and their requirements may change from day to day depending on the tasks ahead. Between you, you will need excellent communication and the opportunity to feedback at the end of your day. If these issues haven’t been discussed, it’s worth raising them.
Be confident with strategies
Make sure that you are confident in the strategies and interventions you have for developing learning in the classroom. If you are supporting a particular student you should be told the precise strategies that can help that student to maximise learning. If you want to find out more, sites such as specialneedsjungle.com can help.
You will need to know the college’s behaviour policy and any expectations of you when it comes to implementing it. Your calm serenity will be much appreciated at the college!
Your role is nothing if not varied. Be ready for anything and prepared to join in!
Enjoy your work
Aim to enjoy working with the students in your care. If you don’t, it may be the college that doesn’t suit you, rather than the role.