when what you ‘don’t say’ means the most…

This week in NSW schools it is SASS (School Administrative and Support Staff) Appreciation Week. 

At the Monday morning assembly I managed to catch the presentation by students to our school’s SAS staff and enjoyed hearing them share their insights – all written by the kids themselves”.  I have to admit though, I was perhaps most moved by what they “didn’t say”.

white background with 5 gerbera flowers pink, red, coral, orange and yellow with green stems, green text thanks coming out of the stemOur SAS team comprises administrative staff, learning support officers (teachers aides/paraprofessionals), groundsmen, IT support etc).  Each team member was presented with a small certificate of appreciation, a beautiful gerbera flower and a small speech from different students telling them why they were appreciated.  

There were so many reasons given as to why the kids want to thank them… from getting balls of the roof to preparing newsletters, looking after the office, helping them know where to play, applying band-aids or just having a ‘chat’.  

What struck me when the classroom Learning Support Officers (LSOs/teachers’ aides/paras) were being thanked is that there was no suggestion they were there for any ‘specific or special’ student.  They were considered to be in the classroom for ALL students.  There was no singling out of who they helped and why.

This is exactly how learning support should happen in classrooms.  All students, regardless of any diagnosis or funding, should be feeling supported by the presence of an additional adult in the classroom.  They shouldn’t feel, for example that the adult is, say, “Mac’s aide”.  Sure, Mac’s high physical support needs mean he will get more support in some areas… but I love that the students recognise the aide is there for ‘all of them’.  And I love that Mac (or any student in the school who warrants funded support) isn’t identified as being ‘a kid with an adult attached’ to them.



We often reflect on how well the school has embraced and enhanced the idea of natural supports and recognising peers play a vital role in supporting one another.  I love seeing the adults who come into the school as a result of funding for identified students aren’t singled out for that purpose once they get there.

Well done everyone!

5 Comments

Filed under Accessing the Curriculum, Inclusion... straight up!

5 responses to “when what you ‘don’t say’ means the most…

  1. Glenda Lee

    So, the Learning Support Officer is there because of the singling out of one or two children who have been labeled as “disabled” and needing “special” support for the resultant “special needs”. But many children in the classroom benefit from the assistance of that person. And that (in Mac’s school) is seen as just a normal thing and that is how it operates. Assistance as needed by each child. Because every child is different and they are all special.

    I wish the whole world was like that

  2. Gina @ https://inkyed.wordpress.com

    It would be nice if the whole world worked that way Glenda. The reality is that based on the Ed.Dept policies a Teacher’s Aide is actually there for the teacher… it is a sound concept – it just often gets lost in translation. Mac being in a class means there is a need for extra support, but it need not be an aide velcroed to his side. That would be an inefficient and uninspired choice of support. An aide could, for example, work with the students who don’t struggle and free the trained teacher up for those that are having difficulty – it’s rarer, but does happen. Then… the flip side… frustratingly there would also be some parents who would argue that their kid “is funded” and the aide should be there for them and them alone. For me, i’m happy with how things work for Mac and hope others take his lead 😉

  3. I really like that there is a Sass appreciation day. I’m off to see if we have one here in Victoria. Coops school now has six integration aides whereas when he started there were just 2. I am now seeing the gaps in Peppers class and really wish with such high class numbers there were more teachers assistants as any integration aides are fully stretched supporting the kids they are funded for. Bron x

  4. Gina @ https://inkyed.wordpress.com

    Bron, this week is a trade union thing (and one of the most offensive unions going round IMO) but our school handled it well. I’m not normally one for offering praise and appreciation for people simply doing the job they get paid to do… but it was a nice thing for the kids to do and we really do have a good team worthy of praise. If I had my way there would be a classroom aide in every class regardless. For part of the year this year we actually had two in Mac’s class based on student needs. It was interesting when there was a prac teacher too… four adults to 25 students, nice.

  5. I was saddened to hear of Ba93r&#0yr;s passing as he was 4BH manager during my years as Editor, Macquarie News, Queensland (76-82). My wife, Grace and I extend our sympathy to Pauline and Michael. Barry was one of those rare managers who let his News Editor run a ,then, 23 station news network across Queensland as the editor saw fit.

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