I haven’t really written about my general work on my blog yet, but felt that it would be quite nice to round up my thoughts as it gets close to the last working day of this year (one of the benefits of working term times!). This year has been a lot more settled; we now have a permanent SENCo Team Leader (yay!) who has really created a close knit team, one which has had grown over the year and will be growing even more in the new year! We have just finished moving into our own office and set up our desks – not bad considering that when I first started at this school, I was the only TA, and just kinda ghosted around the school – now I have lots of support around me and a space which helps to identify that us TA’s are also professional members of the staff as well.
I’ve had a few successes this year too – I was able to complete some PD of my choosing (something that I have never had available until now), I learnt how to use a few things that allowed the student I work with to be more inclusive (special sewing machine, Google SketchUp, Laser printer (soooo much fun!) ), and I have already started to plan in some time to learn another program that could open up some more possibilities for the student/s that I will be working with next year. I was allowed to plan our own Accessible EOTC Week which went really well, something is not something that is usually entrusted to a TA, so it has been great to be able to flex my wings and push myself a bit more. There are not many workplaces that allow you to step out of the box that comes with your title, so I am quite grateful that these opportunities exist for me now.
If I had to look at what I struggled most with, it would probably be with the barriers that our title as Teacher’s Aide can bring about. While this year was a lot better, it can still be quite difficult to bring down those barriers and attitudes from students and other staff members. It can be quite frustrating when you walk into a room and watch how people just shut down and almost write you off once you have been identified as ‘just the TA’. Teenagers can be very good at this so our job often starts with lots of relationship building (whether with staff or students!).
Beause words can be quite powerful, we have been moving away from using the term TA, and we have been given an official title that is more reflective of what we do in a more positive way, so at the beginning of next year, we will now be known as Supported Learning! (SL of short). It may seem like a small change, but as this school is quite new, we have been moving away from the more traditional references; our team is one of the few that stayed very traditional, so it is good to finally be on the same page as everyone else!
Overall, the year is ending on a good note, and I am feeling quite excited for next year.