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”.
Our 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!