Education Assistants are busy working in almost every school in BC. Supporting students with special needs and supporting classroom teachings in the delivery of the educational learning outcomes. The skill set of an EA can be as complex as the needs of the classroom.
Consider an EA needs to be flexible and adaptable. Every year the EA is given a new assignment. The assignment will bring a new learning curve and adjustment to the skill set required to do the job.
The position is driven by the needs of the child. The first component of knowledge comes into play. Does the EA have the enough information about the needs? In my 25 years as an EA, I always felt each year I needed to draw in more knowledge to support the expectations of what was needed. Every single child is unique and had different challenges.
Equally important is the relationship the EA must make with the teacher. If you are lucky enough to stay at a school year after year your relationship with teachers grows , therefore your ability to can grow and the EA become an effective team member of a school. Like a teacher, this is a profession you grow and specialize in.
For most of my career, I was fortunate to work in the largest school district in the province. Opportunity to learn and grow was easy as jobs are plentiful and the finding job satisfaction can happen by just transferring to another position. This is not easy if you work in a small district with limited jobs.
It is possible an EA ends up working with a student that will challenge the skill set or the relationship with the teacher is not suitable.
What makes a good EA? Stenberg College lists the following criteria one should consider if thinking about choosing this path.
An EA can specialize in an area. An EA can choose to work only with elementary school children or high school students. Some children are on and academic track and some on a life skill track. Positions can vary and be supporting with students that have intensive behaviour and complex language delays, children with high medical needs and learning disabilities.
In my 25 years, I have supported with Verbal Apraxia Down Syndrome Autism ADS Medically Fragile FASD Dyslexia Learning Disabilities Anxiety Disorders . The goal working with each of these children was to create access to education.
Educating the child lies with the teacher, creating access to the teacher and the education is the role of the EA. Learning to create access properly requires ongoing professional development, a reflection of practice, and mentorship.
That is the goal of this blog. My hope is that EAs will take the time to share their stories of success and provide leadership to those new in the profession, so EAs can continue to grow and contribute to this valuable work. If you would like to add content to the EA Cafe Blog please Contact me!