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Spare a thought for the others…

Spare a thought for the others…and by others, I mean long-term relievers, support staff, librarians etc.

imageWe ran a webinar on smart libraries this year and Paula Eskett and Peter Murgatroyd (National Library services) talked the need for librarians to be part of professional learning and development on e-learning practices and 21st Century pedagogies. It got me thinking, what about a wider need to support long-term relievers and teacher aides in the school too? Here's a question:

  • In addition to lead teachers, do long-term relievers and support staff (in your school) get access to PLD (professional learning and development) to support their understandings, skills and use of e-learning tools/pedagogies as well?

I’d be very interested in hearing how you do this – so that students from ALL classes reap the rewards of on-going PLD. 


  • Madeline Campbell (View all users posts) 21 Nov 2013 11:30am ()

    One of the challenges with this is the way that support staff are paid (usually an hourly rate), and the existing model I've seen in the schools I've worked at is that support staff are welcomed along, but its in their own time, and they don't get paid - if they come along, its out of love and passion for student learning.  Even enabling teacher aides to get release time to attend PLD related to special learning needs, initiatives, etc can be a challenge, but the sense of value and shared connection to a schools learning enterprise gained by them is huge.

    Other school structures are at the beginnings of shifting and moving towards more appropriate, effective and inclusive 21st century models, and I think that its time to address how support staff in school are professionally supported and included. There's stuff I could add that would not be particularly 'politic'! Support staff have a huge range of expertise and cultural understandings that are woefully under-utilised, not valued, and unrecognised, and I think that examination is desperately needed of policies from Ministry to BOT to school admin level, about how support staff are funded and how their professional growth is addressed. 

    I know that for me, the Smart Libraries webinar was fantastic : )

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 22 Nov 2013 11:33am ()

    Thanks for this comment Madeline, it's given me loads to think about, especially in terms of the logistics – when staff are paid in a certain amount of hours. If they willingly give up their time to do the additional PLD then that is a commendable task. Then again, like you say, maybe schools could find a ways to help alleviate the financial barrier of supporting staff and find an inclusive model that fits. I’d love to hear more success stories like this. 


    I realise long-term relievers can also negotiate staff meetings, PLD sessions too. I think they miss out on opportunities for PLD (conferences etc) that permanent staff have access to. However, if a long-term reliever wanted to pursue PLD in certain areas, they could try informal networks like following professional blogs, Twitter, Ning, VLN (recorded webinars etc) or possibly pay their own way to attend conferences/courses.

    I’m just thinking about the equity of it all - in terms of the students in these classes. Are some students ‘better off’ because they are in a permanent teacher’s class or even a lead teacher’s class and disadvantaged in these other scenarios?

    What do you think?

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