Stuck in the Middle: Help! I Need Somebody.
At North Saanich this year, we have 15 Educational Assistants that support our students, teachers and classrooms. Each has a very different assignment as we have students with many diverse needs at our school, but in the end, their role is to support students so that they can be successful in the classroom. Support looks different for each student and classroom, but the end results of our support need to show up in students learning.
Educational Assistants are funded by the government based on students with certain designations. Not all designated students generate EA time and not all students who generate EA time need support all day, so our EA’s are periodically during the day able to help other students in their classrooms.
Our EA’s are fantastic at supporting others in addition to those that they have specifically been assigned to support. The ability to move around and provide a student who might need some academic help or emotional support without disrupting the flow of the lesson is both an art and science. Our EA’s seamlessly do it in such a positive and supportive manner that all students benefit from their EA’s presence in the classroom. And I know the students appreciate and want our EA’s support as they often use the language of the Beatles by saying to them, “Won't you please, please help me?”
At the start of the year, “when I was younger so much younger than today” one of our students was having a conversation at the dinner table with his mother about school while his younger brother listened in on the conversation. She asked him how he was liking the teacher, class and friends, but since she knows my wife she also asked about how he liked his principal. I am pretty sure this isn’t all student’s response when asked this question, but he said, “He is great. He comes into the classroom almost every day.”
“Every day?” his younger brother replied. “Your class must get in a lot of trouble!”
“He doesn’t come in just when we are in trouble. On our birthdays he delivers everyone a chocolate bar to the classroom riding a scooter. He sometimes even comes in and helps us.” He paused and carefully selected his next words. “He is more like an EA.”
Now that is a high compliment. I do hope that they “appreciate me being round. To help them get their feet back on the ground,” but I know I can not be there every day or give the kind of consistent support that our students need and our EA’s provide.
At North Saanich Middle School, we have an extremely talented and hardworking staff and that includes our 15 Educational Assistants. They are always working hard to support students with their learning, and occasionally the students can get a little help from the principal. I can not help every day or every class, but as Mother Teresa said, ”Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest you.” Kinda like an Educational Assistant.