Strategy support assistant
For this case study I have chosen to review my work with a strategy support assistant (SSA) who is specifically employed to work in the science department and will be referred to as S.I have support from S in the teaching of two of my four classes, with the majority of the time spent with a set 4 year 8 class.
This class has almost 70% EAL pupils who are all working at different stages of the EAL scale. The class profile is 23 pupils, 12 female and 13 male with seven pupils registered as SEN. In total, the class has 4 teaching assistants (TA) during any one lesson, one SSA, and three TA’s who will work with individual pupils. Of these, only S is constantly attached to the class.S primarily assists with pupils who are between stages 1 and 2, translating and explaining the key points of the lesson in a number of home languages in which she is fluent.
These include Bengali, Urdu, and Punjabi. As such, the relationship requires a great deal of communication with each other in both the planning stage and actual teaching of the lesson. S regularly takes my lesson plans and develops appropriate resources which will aid the pupils in both their understanding of the scientific principals being taught and in developing their English skills. The resources developed by S include worksheets, information cards as well as spoken translation and interpretation of key work.S does not come from a scientific background and as such it is sometimes necessary to go over some of the lesson content to ensure that the key concepts and ideas are translated appropriately to ensure that the pupils are getting the best from the resources which the school provides.
In practice the working relationship works extremely well, but I have found that it does require me to plan and inform S well in advance of the lesson in order for her to prepare resources. The time is also needed for me to check and agree to those resources being appropriate.In my first placement I had never worked with a teaching assistant or had any classroom support other than the classroom teacher and at first wasn’t quite sure how to use S correctly. The three TAs who work with individual pupils are given an overview of the topic at the beginning of each term and provide their own resources to enable their pupils to learn and are able to work independently to an extent. S however is employed to ensure that there is direct support for the pupils in each and every lesson.During the first few lessons, I allowed S to work on her own, and wasn’t really using her as a support assistant but rather as an extension of my behavior policy and as a translator.
As we progressed and began to work more closely during the planning of the lessons she is now used not only to translate but also to be ‘teaching’ a lesson within my lesson. I was unsure of how this would work at first, if the pupils she works with would feel as if they were being left out of the main lesson or if the pupils who were not receiving this extra support would complain that they didn’t have one to one support.What I have seen happen is that the pupils who S works with have progressed in both their understanding of the scientific concepts which they were being taught and also in their understanding of spoken and written English. The pupils respond well to her which makes the teaching of the class much easier, especially when looking at the make up of the class.One aspect of working with S which came across slightly negative when first working with her was the lack of respect which the some of the pupils were showing her.
In my opinion, because she wasn’t the teacher, they felt they did not need to be as polite or treat her in the same way as they would. I found the best way to address this was to give S the opportunity to deal out sanctions where necessary and back her up 100% with the pupils. Once they realised that she was to be shown the same courtesy and respect as they would a teacher and if they did not then the same sanctions would be imposed there was a shift in their responses to working with her.The relationship with S, and the pupils response shows the importance of using TA and other support staff as valuable teaching resources. Support staff are not there to work for teachers, but are there to support and aid them in teaching and should be used as such. Having a even just one TA in the class allows teachers to focus on individual teaching and breaks the class down into more manageable chunks.
This is especially important when dealing with inner London schools where the ability range in both terms or academic achievement and the level of English comprehension is so wide swept. I believe the use of S in my lessons has had a positive effect on the standard of my teaching with the particular set of pupils and has raised the attainment of the class which as a teacher is one of our priorities. My current view is that teaching assistants are not particularly useful unless they are used effectively.My work with future colleagues will require me to build on the positive relationship I have with S. I recognise that there is a plethora of support available for teachers, but I also need to take forward my view that I need to include any teaching assistants in the planning and execution of my lessons, planning to use them where best suits their abilities.
If they are working with particular pupils then I will need to include them in the planning of tasks for those pupils, or if they are there for language support as with the case of S, then giving them the chance to understand the content which they will effectively teaching is paramount.In conclusion, classroom support is not to be taken for granted – they are there to support the teacher in their teaching, but more importantly, the pupils in their learning and this is a view I will take with me throughout my career.Review of Working with other staff:Positives:* This was a very well written description of the relationship you had built up with S, the strategy support assistant. The way you have written the case study shows how the relationship built up over the time you were on your 2nd school experience. I thought that how you had learnt to effectively implement S in the class to get the most of her expertise was good.
It showed how you had progressed from being not too sure how to implement S in the class to fully implementing her effectively. Well done.* The way in which you reflected on what you had learnt from this relationship and how it will shape your future relationships with support staff in the future was outstanding. I also thought that your reflections on how S was implemented to her full extent to aid you as a teacher and most importantly to aid pupils in their learning were very interesting. After reading this, I actually thought about how to maximise the effectiveness of support staff in my classes.
Suggested area of improvement:* This was a very good piece of reflective and partially descriptive writing, which was required for the task. The only area of improvement I can suggest is that I thought you could have concluded this piece in a bit more detail. Suggesting where you as a teacher might offer more support to support staff, in the future.Response to reviewI appreciate Tony’s encouraging comments of how I have reflected on my relation built up with the SSA. I am also pleased that I have helped provoke further reflection on his own relationship with support staff and it is good to see that he is constantly looking to improve his teaching of using other support staff in the classroom.Looking again at my study and picking up on the criticism made, it does occur to me that it might be beneficial to go back and rewrite the conclusion just for myself and build upon what I have written to hopefully increase my competency of using other support staff in the classroom.