Making the Most of Supporters

I wrote about this topic in 2014 if you want to check out my original post, click here. Since then, I have learned more about utilising the support that is available to me, whether the support is in my classroom or in the staffroom, I have learned to ask for the help I need.

An important part of being a teacher is managing the resources that are available to us.  We often talk about managing behaviour of students, or taming the piles of paperwork or keeping all the hands on materials in check.  We don’t often talk about how best to manage the human resources that are available to us.  Sometimes these human resources are teacher aides (or educational assistants), parent volunteers, other teachers and even our own family and friends.

Knowing what you need and knowing how to ask for it is a vital part of managing human resources.  People cannot read your mind.  Regardless of their intelligence, willingness to help, or years of experience; people won’t know what you want or need unless you tell them.  This can be a difficult situation for some of us.  Especially if we are not used to asking for help, or if we are not used to leading a team.  Here are a few tips for how to ask/ direct the people who are ready and willing to support you.

  1. Think carefully about what you need to get done in your classroom.
  2. Work out which of the items on your list must be done by you and which ones could be done by someone else.
  3. Decide which days the tasks must be done and/or if there will be a deadline for them.
  4. Assign tasks to the teacher aides/ parent volunteers available to you at the times you need them done.

How you choose to use the skills of people around you is entirely up to you.  Bear in mind that people are better at some things than they are at others.  Some will be more confident and efficient with photocopying/ administration tasks while others will be better with working one to one with students or in small groups.

My teaching partner a few years back is married to a pilot.  Who better to have come and visit our students during the world travel unit? The next year my teaching partner had moved on.  Fortunately, my friend – who has backpacked around Europe, USA, Canada and some parts of Asia – happened to be in Australia, so she came to speak to the students instead.  I haven’t travelled very far, so I knew I would need help with this aspect of my teaching.

My mother is great at sewing, so I asked her to make curtains for my classroom and covers for the chairs.   I am not so great at sewing so I knew it made more sense to ask my mother to help me out.  She has years of experience and is very skilled.  Why waste my time trying to do something that won’t work out nearly as well?  I have far too many things to do that will take up my time.

Know what you need and how to ask for it clearly.  Know how to say thank you.

You will do just fine!

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