Monday, December 20, 2010

Day 440

Today as we settle into the first week of the school holidays I'd like to pay homage to teachers.  Actually, no.  While I do want to highlight my gratitude and complete 'bow at your feet' respect for teachers, I'm actually wanting to pay homage to the learning support staff.

Why?  Well because I spent time working in the learning support unit this year and I really appreciate what they do for a comparatively small income.  And I really admire the heart in which they do it. And I really like the rapport they establish with the kids who most need their support. But most of all I can see the outcomes that are achieved and the confidence that is built in these kids who need a helping hand.

So I suppose it kinda looks like I'm paying homage to myself then! Nah.  I was only there for a couple of terms, but I did get to see how it all works and get a true understanding of the challenges the support staff tackle each day.  And the light in the kids eyes as their special teacher walks in the room to help them learn.

The reason I feel the need to pay homage is because (a) I personally got so much out of providing learning support this year, but more importantly (b) that Darby will probably require some learning support next year, (c) my best friend is a learning support assistant in Pennsylvania and I know the work she puts in, (d) one of my most loyal blog followers posted a comment on my blog and a subsequent post on her site about the value and joy of her teaching experiences, and finally (e) the learning support staff up at our school are absolutely beautiful and dedicated and peaceful and bring so much joy that I just wanted to give them a mention.

Phew. That's a lot of homage!!!

But seriously, this is the comment Jen from Jemikaan left on my site when I wrote about Darby's new challenge the other day:


I had a student I worked with one on one who had learning difficulties and who was very behind in his schooling. His teachers were frustrated as he didn't do his work, even when it was modified work, he distracted others and he had major anger issues. They thought that maybe he didn't have 'much going on'. I worked with him, without distractions and I discovered one of the most intelligent little individuals! That intelligence didn't lie in books and reading and writing. It didn't necessarily lie in book maths either. It lay in life experience and the ability to 'work things out' and to 'fix things' . He worked often on his families farm. Getting up at 3-4am to do the crops before coming to school. This boy went home and mowed the lawn, until the lawn mower broke and so he took it apart and fixed it. No manual, no help, just worked it out and fixed it. He would weld things when needed, he knew how to run that farm with his eyes closed. If you wanted to know about how to grow something, tend vegetables, work the land he was the man to go to. This information is something he had never had the opportunity to share with his teacher. What an enormous shame that was though, as just knowing this would make the teacher see, and hearing him say it with enthusiasm and conviction would completely change their outlook on him. And we all know that the way you see someone does influence the way you talk to and treat them. 


That boy just graduated primary school. I know he will struggle at high school, but I also know he has an incredibly bright future ahead of him, even if it wont involved reading novels!  

I have been pretty lucky the last few years working with small groups of children. It has given me an insight into kids and teaching which is harder to see when teaching a full class. All teachers should be given more time to work one on one with their students and really get to 'know' them.

Isn't that a beautiful story!  Yes, teachers are wonderful and I put them on a pedestal right up there with our emergency services dedicating their lives to the well being of others.  I believe that Jen is, in fact, a teacher who has insight via a variety of teaching frameworks. But the learning support staff who are fortunate enough to work one-on-one or with small groups of kids are exceptional as well. And so needed. I wish we could have more of them.

For another of Jen's experiences working with small groups of kids in need, you can go to her Friday posting here.


2 comments :

  1. I totally agree with you about support staff in schools, they are totaling invaluable! I definitely should be paid more than they do for the work the do. I know I wouldn't have survived the first few weeks in my new role when things were tough without them standing beside me helping out (sometimes holding kids back!). And we teachers can learn so much from them as they have an insight into the kids that often we don't.

    Thankyou for the lovely quoting and link Leanne xo

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