As a teacher, I do not profess to understand how difficult the learning support assistant (LSA) role can be, so I turned to Twitter and Facebook. Here’s the advice that came back.
You need to ensure that everyone in your team feels valued. Some people think that LSAs and teachers should have joint CPD. We shout about consistency, but if we don’t have all members of staff contributing to training then how can we expect that consistency to be in place?
Others suggest joint planning, preparation and assessment time for the teacher and LSA. This will not only strengthen your relationship, but also give you more perspective on the behaviour difficulties that you face.
You need to be able to make yourself approachable. No two people have the same expectations and opinions on behaviour. You both need to be able to discuss your thoughts freely. Model your expectations. Discuss clearly when you would intervene with behaviour in the classroom and how.
Differing needs within your classroom may require changes, so regular communication with your LSA is vital.
In dealing with the behaviour arising in your classroom, share the load. Being aware of your own feelings and emotions is crucial: if you or your LSA feel the need to “swap out” from a behaviour matter, then you need to have verbal or visual cues to signal this. Ensure that this is discreet or you risk escalating the situation.
If you see an LSA dealing with a situation and they don’t need you to swap in, let them continue. Certainly don’t interrupt or you run the risk of undermining them. You are a united front and this needs to be apparent.
Tracey Lawrence is assistant headteacher and specialist leader of education in social, emotional and mental health at Danemill Primary School in Leicester