I currently work with two SSO’s, one who works four days of the week and the other for one. When I first started working alongside another adult full-time, I found it very difficult to give directions. I didn’t feel as though I was experienced or qualified enough to do so, didn’t want to come across as “bossy” and I’ve also always been a few years younger than the SSO’s I’ve worked with. With feedback and time, I’ve gotten better in this area. In previous years at my site, I’ve worked as a classroom teacher alongside one Support Services Officer (SSO) who works five days a week. This was the adult with whom I had the most contact with. This year, the number of adults within my classroom and beyond throughout the week has increased. Here’s what that looks like:
|Monday||Classroom||SSO, Health Support Officer (HSO)|
|Swimming Centre||SSO x4, Swimming instructors x6|
|Tuesday||Conference Room||Colleagues (varies)|
|Wednesday||Classroom||SSO, HSO, Occupational Therapist x2, Autism Spectrum Facilitator|
|Gym||SSO, HSO, Physio director, Physio students x5|
|Thursday||Classroom||SSO, HSO, Speech Therapist/Occupational Therapist|
|Friday||Classroom||SSO, HSO, Speech Therapist|
- My role with the SSO’s and HSO’s is to be aware of my duty of care, ask for assistance and provide encouragement and support. This might mean asking for clarification regarding health care needs, assisting with personal care/behaviour when required and asking the SSO to run an activity on the Smartboard or work with a student. Every adult in my classroom is modelling ProloQuo2go, whether that’s with the high-tech or low-tech versions. (Can I just say here that the team who work with me are amazing. They have so much self-direction and use their initiative all the time). Likewise, they give me a lot of support and make suggestions to better meet the needs of the children.
- The class go swimming offsite once a week. We use one of the school buses to get there, which is driven by one of the SSO’s. Once there, they help me by getting the bag off of the bus, assisting the children to walk to the change room and helping them to get undressed. Once they’re in the pool, I have a very brief conversation with one of the swimming instructors to let her know who’s absent and anything else she might need to know. Some weeks, she also goes through the evacuation routine with me. I sit outside while the children are in the pool as I still have duty of care and occasionally offer advice to one of the instructors if they seem to be having difficulty with the child they’re working with. After the lesson, myself, my classroom SSO and two SSO’s from another class assist the children to get dressed and help with any personal care.
- I have NIT (Non-Instructional Time) on Tuesday. While I’m completing my own work, I’m often having several conversations and helping colleagues. This ranges from this won’t print in colour to I’m trying to teach my student addition and I’ve tried everything to talking about behaviour and sensory strategies.
- We’re lucky enough to be one of the classes who get to work with the Physio students once a week. These are students on university placement and they work 1:1 with several of my students. My job is to remain in the Gym (because again, duty of care), decide which students are going to benefit the most from the program and ensure those students have parent/carer permission. I’m also explicit about which students have behaviour difficulties and what to do to try and prevent situations occurring. During this session, I also wander from group to group and model how I would work with my students. The Physio director may also ask me for feedback on how I think her students are progressing.
- Every student in my class has therapy. On Wednesday, one of the Occupational Therapists works with one my students in the quiet room of the classroom. After an hour-long session, she provides me with feedback about any progress and/or any admin that I need to know. Throughout the day, I also have students who leave the classroom to go to the therapy room. Each therapist then provides me with either a written or verbal report. This includes what activities they did with the student, their level of engagement and any progress they made. It took me a little practice to become more confident in making my expectations clear with this e.g. if I’m working with a student, to please wait until I’m finished before speaking.
- Thursday and Friday are fairly similar in regards to therapy, but all of it occurs outside of the classroom. At the start of the year, this was overwhelming as occasionally I would forget that a student had left. I noticed my colleague in the class next door had a sign out sheet kept next to her door specifically for this purpose and now do the same myself. Sometimes the therapists have difficulty encouraging my student back to the sensory room/classroom and if so, will ask me for help to make that transition.
- The biggest challenge on Friday is taking the class Cooking. I’ve written briefly about why it’s important to me to take everyone, here. Managing this requires a lot of non-verbal communication between staff as talking too much can be unsettling. We rely heavily on visuals to provide instructions to the students.
Target: Ask for specific feedback from my line manager on how I manage the adults in the classroom.