A Day in the life of an LSA by Daniel B

My job as an LSA involves two primary elements; my role supporting individual students and my role supporting the English department. This means that most of my time is spent well inside of my core area of competence (as a Literature graduate) and some of it is spent well outside of it; today for instance I supported three students in a Spanish lesson (a language which, up until today, I did not speak a word of).

In my role in the English department I co-teach and support two Year 11 classes: a top set with a number of A* candidates, and a lower ability group for whom Cs are an ambitious (albeit vital) target.

This sees me working directly with students to proof work and suggest ideas, acting as an extra ‘roving eye’ during individual quiet work, and in a front of class capacity – teaching elements of the lesson which come more in to my area of expertise than the class teacher, and covering the class when the teacher must be absent.

In other classes I provide support across KS3 and 4 working with SEN pupils. I lead a number of interventions, additional lessons and sessions for pupils across the ability range to ensure that all of our students meet their potential.

I've been active in the development of classroom resources and resources for teachers in the department. Shortly after joining I created a bound set of laminated flip cards with lists of connectives to help my Y11 intervention class broaden their vocabulary for use in persuasive writing.

These have proved popular with both students and teachers, seeing widespread adoption by the top set and more recently seeing use with the KS3 classes of other teachers and have resulted in improvements in the quality of writing at all levels. They now join highlighters, rulers, and dictionaries as essential resources on all classroom desks.

The resource is continuing to evolve in response to students' requests and areas of weakness I have identified in their writing; recently I added a card with a list of near synonyms for ‘say'. I am also now trialling another set of cards with high ability students.

I am responsible for compiling tracking data on ‘working at' and predicted grades in Language and Literature to aid us in identifying students failing to meet their potential.

I have created an assessment template to be used for all students in KS4 which allows for highly targeted interventions, several of which are run by me, on recurring areas of weakness. They include a mixed ability group intervention on punctuation and a one-on-one intervention on syntax for a high ability EAL student.

I have a knowledge of GCSE and IGCSE examination curricula which will soon improve further when I attend an AQA session on behalf of the Head of Department with the goal of feeding back in the following departmental meeting.

I also run Year 11 Maths intervention groups which I teach as small classes, plan lessons and assess work for.

Outside of my essential timetabling I have a more changeable SEN support timetable which isn’t yet in a fixed state. There are a few students with particular SEN needs who I work with as an ongoing concern. There I will sit next to the student in a lesson usually outside of my ken, help them in reading instructions, help them in note taking, and give any other help that makes them better able to engage with and learn from the lesson – due to the nature of these students a lot of the support I often find myself offering is motivational.

As relationships are built with these students my effectiveness at providing support increases; I learn what is within their capability and am able to constantly challenge them to expand this.

An example from a regular support would be tapering off writing support, encouraging a student to write more and more each lesson by doing a series of deals (‘If you write the date and title I’ll write the LO;’ ‘I’ll write the title, I want you to write the learning objective;’ ‘I’ll take these notes but I want to see a paragraph from you’) slowly reducing the necessity of my work one on one with that student.  For a student with a visual impairment I might write things from the board on a mini whiteboard.

I do not contribute to lesson planning outside of my subject or the interventions I run. Inside English I sometimes plan lessons or advise on the planning of them (although from a curriculum perspective rather than an SEN perspective).

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