Support Teacher Tips: Series Introduction

In my current role, I support teachers and students in year 9 English and Maths classes.  In past years I have provided similar support in the primary school setting as well as other secondary school subjects including Science and History. This month I will share my tips for supporting in a colleague’s classroom as well as my experiences in my support roles.

This role brings great rewards and can present great challenges.  The support teacher is expected to assist the classroom teacher; work with individual students and small groups; provide resources; modify/ adjust classroom activities; support completion of assessment; and collaborate with the teacher during the planning process.

The success of a support teacher is often measured by student results – there must be improvement in the results of the targeted students.  The attitude of the teacher and the students is not taken into account.  The fact that the target students have low results due to their behaviour and effort is not considered.  Sometimes, the support teacher may be working very hard with little result, simply because of the students’ unwillingness to learn.

As a leader in our learning support program, I am not only expected to improve student results, I am also expected to “build capacity.”  The goal is to increase the capacity of the teachers with whom I work.  Therefore the teacher/s whom I support also need to be open to learning and growing as professionals while wanting to see every one of their students succeed.  While that seems to be completely reasonable – there are still teachers out there who are stuck and quite happy to stay stuck.  These teachers believe that if their students want to learn, they will learn.  These teachers believe that if their students are not learning it is due to the students’ lack of effort and/ poor behaviour.  These teachers believe that how they teach is perfect and should work for every student.  Sometimes the support teacher is expected to get results quickly when working with limited tools.  The tips in this series come from experience of both situations willing students and teachers as well as reluctant learners.

We know the world is not perfect. Stay tuned.

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