Currently, we’re in the midst of a Teacher shortage in Australia, making Teaching Assistant roles a critical component of the country’s educational team, especially when supporting the teaching and learning process of students with special education needs.
Whilst there is much work available for casual Teaching Aides in the mainstream school setting, there are more opportunities within special development schools due to the nature of the work and the specialist skill set it requires. If you wish to gain access to these rewarding Teaching Assistant roles and enjoy a reliable flow of incoming work, aligning your skill set will serve you well.
Let’s explore the specialist tools required to thrive in this work in Australia.
Tools to Create Effective Strategies and Interventions
Special development schools cater to students with many needs, including physical, intellectual and sensory impairments, autism spectrum disorder and developmental delays.
As a result, Teacher aides working in such schools must have specialised training to effectively meet these needs. They must understand the strategies and interventions required to support these students in their learning and development despite any implications of their condition.
Tools to Provide Individualised Educational Support
Students with special education needs require more intensive support. Fortunately, SDS class sizes are typically smaller, with higher staff-to-student ratios, allowing for more personalised attention.
In this environment, Teacher Aides work closely with students and Teachers to develop individualised education plans (IEPs) that address a student’s unique needs and goals. They also provide one-on-one support to help students access the curriculum and participate in classroom activities, often adapting teaching materials and activities to suit them. For example, they may use visual aids, simplified language, or specialised equipment to help students participate in class.
Tools to Provide Behavioural and Emotional Support
Students in special development schools often have complex behavioural and emotional needs that require additional support. Many of these students have difficulty regulating their emotional responses, which can lead to challenging or disruptive behaviour in the classroom.
Teacher Aides working in SDS work closely with Teachers to develop behaviour management plans and strategies to support students in processing their emotions. Often, they provide support and guidance to help these students establish coping mechanisms and build social skills.
Tool for Effectively Managing Greater Parent Involvement
Parents of children with additional needs often have a higher level of involvement in their child’s education, advocating for their needs and working collaboratively with Teachers and staff.
In SDS, Teacher Aides may work with parents to develop and implement IEPs, provide progress updates, and address concerns. This requires effective communication and management tools.
Tools to Support Physical Needs
TAs working in the SDS setting play a crucial role in supporting the physical needs of their students, particularly those with physical disabilities. These students may require assistance with mobility and positioning.
Additionally, Teacher Aides may be required to assist with tasks such as feeding, toileting, and personal care to ensure these students can participate in their learning environment with comfort and dignity. Knowledge of how to carry out these tasks safely is critical to protecting the student's rights and the TA's reputation.
Tools to Facilitate Communication
Teacher Aides may need to assist with communication between students and Teachers and students and their peers. This may involve using sign language, assistive technology, or other methods to help students express themselves and understand others.
Fundamental to this work is ensuring a basic understanding of these communication techniques and a willingness to upskill where required.
Tools to Create Successful Learning Outcomes
These roles are more readily available due to the shortage of Teaching Assistants with the patience, knowledge and know-how when it comes to working alongside students with higher needs.
TAs can effectively enable students with special education needs in Australia to access the curriculum and participate in classroom activities to the best of their ability, promoting their independence and overall well-being. And by working closely with Teachers, therapists, and other professionals, they can help create a positive and supportive learning environment that allows their students to thrive.
Providing quality education is an invaluable gift and one owed to everyone. With the support of skilled Teacher aides, children with special education needs can flourish against the odds and aspire to reach beyond the limits of their condition.
In this climate, Teacher aides are essential to alleviating some of the pressure of the Teacher shortage in Australia. If you’re looking for your next fulfilling TA role in a mainstream or SDS setting, contact our team to help amplify your efforts. We pride ourselves on connecting the best people with the best job!