Tip #1 Getting Started: Support Teacher Tips Series

Tip #1

Cultivate a Positive Relationship with the Classroom Teacher from the Beginning

It all comes down to the golden rule: Treat others how you want to be treated. If you want to be a respected colleague in the classroom you need to respect the teacher/s with whom you are working.

When establishing a support program my first steps are focused on cultivating positive relationships with the participating teachers.  I begin as a guest in their classroom and work towards becoming an integral part of the classroom landscape. Here is the process I follow.

STEP ONE Introduce yourself and your program

Approach the teacher outside of the classroom to inform them that you have been assigned to support their class and initiate a conversation.

Explain why you have been assigned and the goals of your program or expectations that have been placed on you.  Example: I am assigned to your class because 11 of your 28 students have learning difficulties and 3 of these students have a disability which impacts on their ability to access the curriculum.  My goal is to ensure that these targeted students will improve their results by one level (ie D to C) by the end of the year.

Ask the teacher how they would like to proceed.  If they have worked with support teachers before they might like to use the same process or they may be open to trying something different. Discuss ways that you would like to support them and how you would like to move forward.

STEP TWO Come to an agreement

Decide how you will enter the room and function as a member of the class community (sitting with a specific small group of students, moving among students throughout the lesson, sitting in the corner during direct teaching time and then moving around the room while students work independently).

Discuss and Decide how students will address you and how you (as teachers) will address each other in front of students.  Example: I always refer to male teachers as Mr … (e.g. Smith) or Sir, and female teachers as Ms … (e.g.  Smith). I ask that they refer to me as Ms … (e.g. Jones) in class too.  This shows that we respect each other as teachers and expect students to show us the same respect.


Repeat this conversation after being in the classroom a few times.  Check that what you have planned is working for both of you.


Further steps for keeping the professional relationship positive and functional.

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