The LSA is your eyes and ears and probably your conscience as well ...

Recently this article appeared on my twitter feed ... it put me into a momentary reminiscence, remembering some of the LSA's (learning support assistants) we had when I was teaching in further education. I endorse everything shared by the article and will add the following.

For many groups - the LSA would be attached to one individual who typically followed the timetable of the same group for most of the week. I would take the time to develop a rapport with the LSA's as unlike the lecturers who may appear in the lives of the group for 2-3 hours a week. The LSA saw their student and all the other classmates for 15-18 hours.

You would learn more from the LSA about the quality of teaching and the experience of the students than any questionnaire or interview process. Younger students communicate in younger student terms - this can be a mixed bag of hormones, zits and emotions.

If a colleague complained about any student in a given group - a chat to the LSA would remove bias and discover if it was actually the student or the colleague being a numpty (again). Vice versa, if a student complained about a member of staff - we could easily get an impartial view.

LSA's have a knack of blending in, being trusted by the students yet not being one of them. Keeping confidences as well as knowing when to share enough to let senior academic staff deal with any issues. They would ignore the daily trivialities of teenage life yet help us understand when there was an issue that required our intervention and maybe an offer of greater support.

Some staff never understood the LSA asset - I would always involve them in the teaching of the student they supported. As well as chat to them as an equal getting their view on the course as well as the students welfare. They would tell me who they found easy to learn from - as well as lecturers who were complete arse hats.

If you are still fortunate enough to have LSA's in any of your lessons ... be very nice to them, you never know what they may know. Or what they are telling others about your teaching.


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