This week we have been to visit one of our fantastic graduates called Tara who has been working in one of our lovely Birmingham primary schools since December 2018.
She has offered some information about what she has been doing throughout her placement and some of the challenges and rewards she has been given to help you to understand a little more about what you can expect if you are considering a career in education and would like to gain experience and broaden your understanding of Special Education Needs…
What is your role?
I am currently working as a Special Educational Needs Teaching Assistant at a Primary School in Birmingham. I have been working 1:1 with a child in Year 1 and have continued to support him and his class throughout this year moving into Year 2.
What’s your favourite thing about your role?
My favourite thing about my role is having the opportunity to work 1:1 and with the whole class. It’s just so fun working with different ability children and doing my best as a TA to support every child to ensure they succeed and are positive about their learning.
What do you like about your school?
I like the support my school has offered me particularly the SEN Team and the classroom teacher I work alongside. Sometimes when things get tough, she steps in to help. And I think a supportive school makes all the difference in making your job much easier!
What is your greatest achievement in your role so far?
My greatest accomplishment so far has been building a foundation with the child I’m working 1:1 with. By building up a relationship with the child has led to many improvements in the child’s speech, language and one of the biggest achievement is the child holding the pencil in a firm appropriate grip. This could not have been done without a foundation. I have learnt that a firm foundation is essential for academic progress!
What challenges have you been faced with?
I have been faced with different challenges but the main challenge would be catering to the learner’s specific needs in terms of planning and preparing resources. As SEN children typically do not do the same work as the rest of the classroom children, my role as SEND TA is to make my own resources and sometimes it’s difficult to get the resources you need for certain targets to be met.
Another challenge is that sometimes the child will make progress but then forget what was taught so it’s important to use repetition consistently.
How have you overcome these challenges?
I have overcome the first challenge by using online resources which have been very effective in providing teachers and TAs with the material and resources needed to support children. This has been very good with providing learning materials for the SEN and EAL children I have been working with. It has become my best friend when it comes to planning and preparing resources when working 1:1 to support me to best support the children.
The second challenge I have overcome is by using consistency, repetition and a structured routine to help the child remember what they are learning. I have my lessons at a certain time with child and I keep that very structured throughout the year. Constant repetition, the ability to keep a good structure and positive reinforcement are three vital skills needed when your working 1:1!
What have you learnt?
One thing I can definitely say is that this role has toughened me up in more ways than I had initially expected!
Being a SEND TA has enabled me to understand the needs of children with disabilities whether that may be physical or non-physical. I think it’s important that SEND children are socially integrated within the classroom as much as possible and that is something I would definitely make sure to do as a future teacher.
Also, with regards to preparing and planning their resources, this is something I would be able to do as well as structuring lessons for the rest of the children as a future teacher. I have learnt that keeping consistency with the SEN child and a good routine is really important to development.
It’s also important to be very patient, nurturing and calm because sometimes the child might not be having a good day at school and it’s important as a SEN practitioner that you can calm the child down.
What are you plans for the future and how has this role helped you?
My plans for the future involve going to university next year to do my teacher training and become a qualified teacher! This role has helped me to learn about the notion of inclusion, SEN and more specifically about autistic traits in a practical environment and more so accommodating the needs of a child with autism.
What advice would you give to other graduates considering going into education?
My advice to other graduates considering going into teaching and looking for additional experience as a 1:1 TA would be to be passionate about working with SEN children.
A role such as being a SEND TA can be stressful sometimes but it’s equally rewarding. I do believe the rewards outweigh the challenges and you will come to see that once that foundation and stability has been established with the child.
This role made realise just how much I want to teach in the future and inspire every child in my class.