The Balancing Act: Support Teacher Tips Series

Most Learning Support Teachers are experienced classroom teachers. The move from being the responsible classroom teacher to becoming the ‘support’ teacher requires adjustment and careful navigation. Classroom teachers are responsible for long term curriculum planning, lesson organisation, grouping students, marking classwork and assessment, behaviour and classroom management, reporting and more. It is difficult to let go of those responsibilities when you become a support teacher. This is especially true when the teacher you are supporting does things very differently to you. However, as a supporting teacher it is not your job to take over the classroom, manage behaviour or take responsibility for planning and assessment. You are working in a team and while it might be tempting to lead the team you need to allow the classroom teacher to lead.

The actions of the support teacher are as delicate as a surgeon’s. While it is tempting to sit at the back of the room and shake your head at the (sometimes unbelievable) actions of students in the class and their teacher, it is important that the support teacher does not ‘give up’ when it gets too hard. It might be frustrating when students seem not to respond to your presence and the teacher you are supporting seems to see you as an imposition rather than a knowledgeable colleague. However the collegial teamwork of classroom and support teacher can have a significant impact on student results and it is well worth your effort to build this slowly and focus on the positive.

So Tip #1: Keep the Balance.

Focus on the positive behaviour and actions of students and the classroom teacher/s.

When giving advice or feedback, be sure to highlight positive aspects of a lesson/ resource/ plan.

Make small goals and be hopeful as well as proactive about reaching them.

You can Do it!

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