Longreach State School shares their successful performance and development strategy for paraprofessionals

With 200 students, Longreach State School is the biggest primary school in central outback Queensland. The five teacher aides employed at the school, who have over thirty years’ experience between them, provide support to students across all year levels in English, mathematics, and science. They also manage the library, provide IT support, maintain and update iPads, help with swimming instruction, and provide specialised support for students with disability. 

L to R: Lana Claassens: Year 3 & 4, Nicole Harris: Year 5 & 6, Chloe Fuller: Year 1 & 3, Samantha Horsten: High 5 Reading Program, Kasey Jackson: Prep, Tracey Hart: Head of Curriculum

For the past 5 years the school has been a member of Australian Teacher Aide, enabling the teacher aide team to develop the skills and knowledge they need for their diverse job roles. 

We recently met with Tracey and the team to find out how a remote school such as Longreach make use of the ATA professional learning resources.

Tracey told us that everyone participates in Annual Performance and Development Planning (APDP) with her, and Nicole then coordinates the professional learning resources, based on everyone’s APDP goals. 

Tracey provides the teacher aides with an hour per week to meet, collaborate, and do their professional learning together. 

It is important to timetable meeting times for teacher aides during work hours. It values teacher aides as paraprofessionals and gives everyone the opportunity to share information, and develop their skills across learning areas. This benefits the students as the TAs get to know the needs of individual students from Prep through to year 6. - Tracey 

Nicole uses the Professional Development Planner to source two webinar recordings per term, and at the end of each term the team reflect on their plans, and re-evaluate the goals they set at the start of the year. This also gives the team an opportunity to celebrate and share their individual and team achievements.

Everyone comes together to do the professional learning as a group each week. We stop and start the video, and discuss strategies that relate to our students. For example, we watched the series on Essential Behaviour Support Skills for Schools and shared our own experiences, and talked about strategies we have tried. We even share with the teachers who have learned some new things, too! – Nicole

Other professional development completed by the team as a group include the first two eTAPS modules, and webinars on THRASS and Autism.  During the webinars, the teacher aides use their iPads to take notes in One Note, which enables them to share the information with each other, and their colleagues.

ATA professional learning has also helped Lana provide evidence that she used for recognition of prior learning, to gain her Certificate IV in Education Support.

In a school as remote as Longreach, ATA online professional learning has enabled the teacher aide team to tap into the experience of other educators, learn from experts, share their own experiences, and stay motivated to keep learning. 

It is little surprise that these teacher aides, who know they are valued as paraprofessionals, love their jobs and have continued in their roles for a long time! 

During Australian Teacher Aide Appreciation Week, the teacher aides at Longreach State School found little surprises in their pigeonholes each day, and celebrated with a cake.