The importance of belonging to a professional organisation

 Rachel Carter, Director of Learning at Waverley Christian College believes it is important for learning support assistants (LSAs) to belong to a professional organisation, and have access to professional learning opportunities. 

For the past five years, the school has been a member of Australian Teacher Aide, which has provided LSA staff with access to a wide range of professional learning resources. 

“I find the website to be very helpful, and like the variety of topics. I have listened to a number of live webinars that I can revisit at a later date in the ATA Professional Development library.” - Debbie Carpenter, LSA

Rachel Carter, Director of Learning at Waverley Christian College and the LSOs team

Waverley Christian College is a large co-educational independent school, with a diverse student population that reflects Australia’s multicultural society. It has two campuses at Wantirna South and Narre Warren South, each with a primary and secondary sub-school. Each sub-school has a learning support coordinator and enrichment teacher, and employs around 40 learning support assistants (LSAs) who support students across the four campuses.

All staff participate in ongoing professional learning throughout the year, and individual learning needs are identified through staff development reviews. Rachel coordinates the professional learning of staff, and also facilitates professional learning that aligns with the school’s strategic focus during school professional development days.  

 “Doing professional learning together is a highly effective and powerful learning experience for the LSA teams.” – Rachel Carter 

As the wellbeing of students and building positive relationships is a strategic focus and an important goal of the school, Rachel selected the three-part series, Essential Behaviour Support Skills for Schools from the ATA Professional Development library.

Through this professional development, the LSAs at Waverley Christian College learned about:

  • Prevention: how to use the language of expectation to prevent behaviour issues arising
  • Encouragement: how to interact positively with students and promote positive and respectful relationships 
  • Correction: how to redirect students back to learning in the least intrusive way. 

“The team has benefited from learning how to consistently use a preventative approach across the school, and were able to reflect on their learning, share their experiences, and apply this to their everyday classroom practice. The LSAs found the resources easy to access and understand, and the step by step approach enabled engagement and discussion.” said Rachel. 

Once again this year, Rachel, and her colleagues at Waverley Christian College, will use Australian Teacher Aide Appreciation Week to acknowledge the valuable work done by support staff, and has already marked this event in her calendar for the first week in September!