The rôle of Support Staff - understanding the needs
A good Teaching and Learning environment relies upon the quality of the support staff as much as the performance of the teacher! Yes, the teacher must be a good 'performer' and communicator. Yes, the teacher must be fully familiar with the material to be taught and well acquainted with all aspects of the Lesson Plan. Yes, the teacher should be there, ready at the door, as the bell rings for the start of the lesson. Yes, the teacher should know the names of every child or use seating plans or other 'cribs' to ensure that children are properly addressed and identified. Yes, the lesson should move on with pace and yet leave time for the Plenary session and an orderly pack-up procedure.
But what of the LSA? Having used Technicians and LSAs in many schools I have a clear view of what I expect from the LSA and, not surprisingly, my list of expectations is not dissimilar to the list above. Yes, the classroom Assistant must be a good communicator, even if subtle, sympathetic and discreet. Presentation materials, display and worksheets all need a touch of quality. The LSA must be aware of the subject matter of the lesson and how the lesson is to be delivered. Thus the teacher must familiarise the LSA with the Lesson Plan before the lesson begins. Yes, wherever possible the LSA needs to be in the classroom before the lesson begins, possibly tidying up after the last lesson and certainly arranging the materials that students will require during the lesson. Above all, the LSA is a support to the teacher and learners, and should be capable of moving around the classroom in a non-disruptive fashion.
Such qualities are not easily come by. They need to be recognised and nurtured by the classroom teacher. For many years I have bemoaned the fact that so often teachers remain isolate in their classrooms, without the support and encouragement of colleagues. How we get the best out of this partnership and its relation to ICT needs further exploration: