Throughout my adult life I have been continuously told that the best way to find and stay in a job is self-promotion. Compile a good curriculum vitae with a detailed section on personal interests, on job applications always describe other skills that may not necessarily be relevant to the position you are applying for; something that I did when I applied for work in secondary education last summer, resulting with a position at a new academy in Kent.
I was awarded a position within the academy on my own merits and for that I am grateful. I enjoy my work supporting lower ability students in the classroom and I am confident that I am making positive progress with the young people I am assigned to.
I am not just a newly qualified teaching assistant (Level 3 obtained Summer 2010), I bought with me several years’ experience of 1:1 and classroom support at both KS1 and KS2 education, therefore understanding the needs and difficulties of students who are struggling to rise above SATS levels 2 and 3. Many of the children I have supported since 2005 have not just had learning difficulties; they have also been diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum, emotional and behavioral issues or have ADHD.
In addition to providing support in schools, during my free time I started a successful Beaver Scout colony in 2007, once established I progressed to Cub Scout leader, planning and running balanced programs for 8-10 ½ year olds. I am now in my sixth year as a fully qualified and warranted Scout leader. This position is not just about sparing an hour and a half a week, but often includes extra time planning and researching a wide variety of subject matter and then delivering it to the young people in a fun format, teaching them new skills in a way they understand and remember.
Having this experience and relatively new skill proved invaluable when faced with a KS3 class, whose teacher, who in unforeseen circumstances, failed to arrive for a lesson and no cover or supply had been provided, leaving me to deliver a lesson without preparation or back up.
In addition to this skill, I have developed my own learning, mostly with an interest in the outdoors; walking, hiking, map reading, camping and geocaching, all of which I have obtained and maintained over the past six years. During my teen years I was an avid archer. Regularly breaking club and county records, some of which I still hold today. Thanks to this talent I have often assisted other Scout leaders (who hold GNAS qualifications) to deliver taster sessions on activity days and camps.
After having been informed by human resources just a few weeks ago to look for work as there was no guarantee of an extension to contracts, the principle hosted a compelling assembly to the lower school. Explaining to the students about taking risks, find their hidden talents and not to wait for opportunities to fall into their laps. That they would have to work for their goals and dreams, In essence self-promotion!
Following on from that assembly, I read an article in a local paper about the principles pledge of “Local jobs, for local people!” This compelled me to write to him, outlining my existing skills, and as a local who supports his school and his vision, in the hopes that they reconsider their position on continuing existing contracts.
Support assistants are often the image of consistency in secondary education, especially in an establishment that still has a high turnover of teaching staff due to the ongoing changes and teething problems that come from having a brand new school. Is it fair for pupils to continue to put up with a long list of supply teachers and cover supervisors? Only to have all the support staff laid off at the end of the academic year!
I am not just a little upset that twelve months on I am having to look for work again and self-promote to schools and academies that may not necessarily be looking for someone with my skills and talents, but I am saddened that I may not be there to see the students I have helped this year, to grow, mature and achieve to the best of their abilities. They are great children and I have developed a good working relationship with them, in that I am a common face with common interests, a familiarity when they are faced with yet another new member of staff!
UPDATE : 26th JUNE 2012
Well it would appear that it is official and my self promotion letter did not work. I really do now have to pull out all the stops and appeal to all schools in the area! Why, oh why do teaching assistants have to go through this every year.