The Work Life of a Learning Support Teacher: Is this Right for You?
written by: Finn Orfano•edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom•updated: 9/6/2012
A learning support teacher does not just teach students on a daily basis, there is much more to this special education role than that. Read on to learn about the day in and day out responsibilities of this position, as well as a description of what the job entails.
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As a learning support teacher you will find that there are many jobs that you have to complete in a day. Not only do you have to educate students with learning difficulties, you will find there are many other tasks throughout the day that need to be completed in order to excel in this position. From personal experience, I can tell you this particular job is not just about teaching.
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First and foremost, a learning support teacher needs to be super organized. I teach 7 periods each day. Out of those periods, I actually teach 9 different subjects, most of which are math. I teach other subjects as well. So the first part of my job description is being a good secretary.
The next thing this teacher needs to be able to do is be knowledgeable in all subjects. In the high school setting particularly, there is a wide variety of subjects that are being taught. Learning support teachers need to know how to help students with each subject so they can provide them with the proper amount of support.
They must also be able to multi-task. In any given period, I may be teaching several different subjects. One needs to be able to have proper time management and be able to juggle a variety of students, with a variety of needs, and a variety of subjects. Don't understimate this task. Without systems in place, you may soon find yourself unorganized and stressed!
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Strong Communication Skills
Learning support teachers also need to keep in frequent contact with parents. As issues or problems come up with students it is our job to make sure that the parents are contacted in order to make sure that they are aware of what is going on with their child.
Teaching very rarely happens as planned. Students may have issues, or may not grasp certain concepts, so a teacher has to be ready to adapt to the needs of his or her students. Differentiation of instruction goes along with this as well. Each student learns differently, so as educators it is your job to figure out how each student learns and teach to all different styles of learning.
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Progress Charting and Reporting
On any given day, learning support teachers also need to monitor all of their students, track their progress, do progress monitoring, write IEP’s (Individualized Education Plans,) and attend various meetings. Teachers may have a set number of hours that they need to work a day, however, we work a lot more hours than we are required. Many days, papers need to be taken home to be graded and IEP’s need to be written.
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My Version of a Help Wanted Ad
Here would be an ad that I would put in the newspaper to advertise for my job:
High School Learning Support Teacher Needed: Must be a secretary, educator, highly qualified in math, English, science, and social studies, great multi-tasker, be willing to teach several subjects at one time, and teach to the needs of the students. Hours may vary.
As a learning support teacher, our job is not only to educate our students, but also talk with parents, monitor the students, write IEPs, write and modify lesson plans, differentiate instruction, and attend meetings.
The job responsibilities may be daunting, but it is a very rewarding profession. Every time a student learns something new, it makes all the other work seem worth it.