How a Learning Support Practitioner May Contribute to the Planning, Delivery and Review of Learning Activities

ESSAY ? Describe how a learning support practitioner may contribute to the planning, delivery and review of learning activities
? Describe the sorts of problems that might occur when supporting learning activities and how to deal with these
Findings
A learning practitioner may contribute to the planning, delivery and reviewing of learning activities to ensure children make the best possible progress within the context of the curriculum. Planning in schools is based on a collaborative approach between teachers which promotes professional discussion, effective use of time and limits any planning duplications. Plans are typed on computer so that they can be amended quickly to take account of any changes within the school curriculum. Planning is organised into short, medium and long term planning phases.Short term plans are carried out by the teacher in informal meetings. They are written by the teacher. The learning support assistant (LSA) may or may not contribute to this depending on the school.Short term planning should be linked to medium term plans, which in turn are linked to long term plans. Short term plans aid in the structure and content of a lesson and take account of children??™s progress and level in previous lessons. It enables teaching staff to question children about what their ideas are and what resources will be needed (Kamen 2010)Medium term planning involves planning for a specific sequence of work or subject, for a period of one term (Model School Policy on Planning ??“ NASUWT the Teachers Union, 2010). It identifies learning objectives and outcomes linked to the curriculum. It also takes account of the time needed to cover these objectives, the resources needed and how it will be assessed.When a good medium term plan has been achieved, a short term plan should not be time-consuming as all of the learning objectives, outcomes and teaching activities will already be noted. This makes short term planning more focused on fine tuning rather than planning the lesson from scratch (Weston D. 2012)Long term planning is the planned programme of work for a subject across the school which covers one or more key stages. It takes into account key elements of the curriculum across years and key stages and aims to give continuity and progression of children??™s learning. It is reviewed regularly to determine its learning impact and is amended if necessary. In my setting the long term plans are determined for two years.Effective plans set out learning objectives and how they will be achieved. They also indicate areas which are to be assessed and how the assessment will take place (Model School Policy on Planning ??“ NASUWT the Teachers Union). Reviews by staff are taken regularly and led by a nominated member of senior staff who had planning responsibility. The head teacher informs the governing body about the reviewsTeachers and LSA??™s get ideas directly from the children in order to plan. The ???germ??™ of an idea starts with the children. Sometimes the teaching staff will drop relevant clues around the classroom in order to gain the children??™s interest and to get them asking questions, for example, they may create a ???wow??™ moment by leaving dinosaur bones around the classroom and then ???suddenly??™ finding them and asking ???my goodness wherever did these bones come from???!!! This starts the children asking questions, this is followed up by showing the children relevant books on the subject.Both the teacher and LSA are involved in talking with the children in ???team??™ teaching. All of the ideas and findings are then amalgamated in order to form a plan. The LSA is then responsible for finding the relevant resources for enhanced play. Once the project has been concluded the LSA will collate all the work from the children and the teacher overlooks it all, thereby they are working as a team. Sometimes the class may deviate from the set plans, for example, if there is a sudden event or occasion such as the Royal wedding. When this happens, the teachers and LSA??™s are led by the children??™s ideas only. The children idea was to hold a banquet so they made up a Royal table and place settings to celebrate the Royal wedding.It is important to take account of children??™s experiences and interests in order to engage them and keep them motivated; we need to be able to relate what we are doing to their experiences (Burnham & Baker 2010).The four topics covered every year include, Easter, St. Davids day, Harvest festival and Christmas. Because these topics have to be covered every year, the teacher and LSA change the format annually, for example, one year they may cover how people celebrate the Harvest festival from many years ago and then the following year how they celebrate it in other countries etc.Teachers and LSA??™s do not discard good teaching methods or ideas just because the curriculum has changed. These teaching methods have been gained from many years experience and they have found that teaching methods and ideas come back time and again.It is very important that an LSA is involved in some of the planning even if only the short term plans in order that they know:
??? The learning objectives for the lesson and their role in reaching those objectives
??? The group/individual that they will be supporting
??? The key information to be learnt during the lesson
??? The specific strategies for supporting learning
??? Effective use of questioning ??“ using ???open-ended??™ questions
??? Clear knowledge of outcomes for lessonIt is very important that the LSA and teacher communicate effectively before and after the lesson to prepare, assess and share feedback and any difficulties encountered so that future planning can be modified (Newtown Primary School ??“ Teaching Assistants Handbook, 2012)The sorts of problems that might occur when supporting learning activities include:
??? Distractions ??“ children/visitors ??“ this could be in the form of noise or disturbance from other children in the classroom or an outside disturbance.
??? Behaviour ??“ pupils may not focus due to poor behaviour.
??? Curriculum changes
??? Misunderstanding of information
??? Attention span/concentration ??“ This may be due to several different reasons, such as, work set may be too hard, younger children have a shorter attention span and the task may be too long for them to complete or the child may have worries about something at home or with friends.
??? Language barriers
??? Special needsThe problems mentioned above could be dealt with by
??? Behaviour ??“ intervention is needed straightaway otherwise the class will continue to be disrupted. Give positive praise to children who are behaving well as this will sometimes encourage the others to start behaving to gain your attention. If the pupil continues to disrupt the class, the last resort would be to remove them from the group/class.
??? Try not to change plans too much, sometimes plans need to be changed due to unexpected events but too many changes may affect pupils??™ routine/timetable and may affect their behaviour (Burnham & Baker 2010).
??? Concentration ??“ If the work is at the wrong level it may need to be modified. If the child is finding it hard to finish the work due to their age it may be wise to stop the child working and continue the work later. If a child has home/friend worries, they may benefit from a quiet chat to determine the underlying problem.
??? Language barriers ??“ This may inhibit the child from understanding what the lesson is about, they may need extra help and time to complete the lesson objectives. They may need to have the topic explained to them in more precise detail or may need it explained several times. They may benefit from a one to one LSA who speaks their language in order to progress along with the other children.
??? Special needs – Some children, especially those with specific/special needs, will need to have specific resources to enable them to participate fully in the lesson. These resources may be already available but some may need to be developed or adapted for the child. They may also need a one to one dedicated LSA to help them participate fully in the lesson.Some problems that may occur with planning are:
??? Before the new national curriculum, it was problematic repeating topics each year as they could not collect and re-use resources.
??? They had to concentrate on projects that had the most impact on boys rather than girls. They found that boys did not work as hard when not interested in a subject, whereas girls consistently worked well regardless of the subject matter.Projects that had the most impact on boys (before the national curriculum was introduced) were:
Term 1 ??“ fossils/dinosaurs/under the ground
Term 2 ??“ Castles
Term 3 ??“ Canals/Water/Pirates.
This year the children are able to cover the ???Olympics??™ as part of the new national curriculum which holds interest for both boys and girls.Problems in planning are also dealt with by learning objectives and outcomes. Planning must demonstrate learning objectives for each lesson and the outcomes are measured in order to demonstrate that the subject has been covered effectively. If there are any problems they will show up in the learning outcomes so that future planning can be modified or adapted.Conclusions
Planning should be shared between all members of staff, both teachers and LSA??™s in order to allow for expertise and ideas to be shared and also to minimise workload. Planning is also important to keep the subject matter interesting and engaging to the children and importantly not to repeat subject matter through the key stages. Problems with planning should try to be pre-empted during the planning stage but if they are picked up during lessons they will be demonstrated in the learning outcomes and then used to adapt future plans therefore making the planning system a cycle of planning, teaching and evaluation.Recommendations
Having written this report I believe that it is very important for the LSA to be involved with planning even if only with short term plans. An LSA who is involved fully in the lesson and planning will know exactly what their role is during the lesson and will therefore be more likely to have a positive impact on the outcome of the teaching.
BIBLIOGRAPHYBurnham L. & Baker B (2010) Supporting Teaching & Learning in Schools. Pearson Education Limited, Essex.Kamen T. (2010). Teaching Assistant??™s Handbook Level 2. Abingdon, Oxon.NASUWT ??“ The Teachers Union (2010). Model School Policy on Planning ??“ internet sheetsNewtown Primary School (2012) ??“ Teaching Assistants Handbook ??“ internet sheetsWeston Deborah (2012) Short & Medium term planning ??“ Internet sheets.

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