Learning to work with a large LSA team has been one of the challenges of moving from mainstream to special school. In my last setting I worked with two or at most three LSA’s in a class of 12. Most of the time these staff were supporting individuals or taking small groups whilst I ‘led’ most of the learning.
In my currently class I have 6 students and 6 LSA’s and as each student has an individual timetable and program of study whilst I may plan all the session I can deliver or observe only a very small amount of these sessions. Learning to manage a team is something I am developing- I’m not a natural manager but fortunately my team has been supportive and keen and so my infant management skills haven’t been tested too far!
I thought I’d share my top five tips on working with and LSA team as gleaned from my first term!
1- Pitch in– my personal moto is: Never ask and LSA to do something I wouldn’t be prepared to do. Now this doesn’t mean that I do everything but it does mean that I make sure I don’t duck out from difficult or challenging tasks. I’ve worked with challenging students, finished my tracheotomy training (despite the fact it scared the heck out of me!) and cleaned the messy play area more than once!
2- Say thankyou- make sure you say it and say it often! I thank the staff in my class as often as I can and always make it specific, the LSA’s I work with are what make the progress of the students possible, they work very hard for not enough money and the very least I can do is say thanks!
3- Share what you do– I don’t just thank the staff in private I take it public too, I take every opportunity to praise the team to other teachers to SLT and to parents.
4- Be honest– Admit when you’re wrong, don’t promise what you can’t deliver and admit your mistakes. I’ve screwed up but being honest has meant that staff trust what I say and rather then judge they’ve always taken the opportunity to support me.
5- Show your passion- I’m passionate about what I do, I enjoy what I do and I want to share that with the staff. Yes there are challenges, yes there are not so great moments but I minimise my whining and instead focus on sharing what I love and why I love it. Staying positive can make the difference between a day being hectic but ultimately rewarding and just awful.
And never, ever forget to laugh- at yourself if nothing else!