I think working in a primary school is the hardest job ever. It's so emotionally and physically tiring – I think it's the noise that does it. But I found I had a natural aptitude for working with children. I can say that the thing about my job – and it's the reason so many women do it – is it completely fits in with family life. I have been able to be there for my children in the evening and cook them dinner and so on. I've been able to spend every holiday with them. Now that my children have left primary school, it's still important to be around.
I've worked at Qormi School for more than ten years and have worked with different teachers across the school. We are a Primary Mainstream school which caters also children with special needs. I work really closely with classroom teachers and other Learning Support Educators and it's a real team effort. I'm someone who goes with the flow rather than having a specific plan. Opportunities seem to come my way. What I've always put first is my student.
One of the most important things I learned as a Learning Support Educator was that it is vital to have strong interpersonal skills. Without successful communication, students could do poorly in class. During my first day at school, I let the students know that I am always available. It was important to build strong communication from the very beginning because the student builds confidence. Being a Learning Support Educator is a wonderful job but you need to be so calm and patient to do it. I think the most challenging thing about the job is trying to do everything at once. You'll be juggling at certain times – perhaps a child will be crying, you'll be doing book bags, nobody's listening and the class teacher needs you to do something else. But the trick is to stay calm and not lose your temper.
As I became more empathetic and understanding towards the students’ problems, I also mastered the art of patience. As a Learning Support Educator, I sit down with the student and work on the issue with them, starting from the very beginning of the problem. Together, the student and I works out the problem and come to a solution. I never gave up on a problem because I wanted every student to succeed. On some occasions, students get frustrated with learning. During those instances, I did my best to understand the student’s frustrations. I would discuss the importance of learning for their future, and help and show the student different methods of coping with the stress of learning. At times, there are difficult issues in class, but I have to remain calm, patient, and vigilant to get the student back to work, which always worked in the end. Finding success inside the classroom is amazing, but I always have to remember that it is only one aspect of my role of Learning Support Educator.
The other side of it is that all the children love you. Within school it's like being a superstar – especially if you can do cool stuff. Children tell you they love you every day and it's very sweet. But you have to be prepared for how fleeting this fame is, sometimes, two years later the same kids won't even look at you in the street! Then again you could tell One Direction the same thing. All this adoration does make you feel good but it's not the main reason you go to work.
The last, but not least, skill that I learned through my experience as a Learning Support Educator was time-management. Time-management in class is always tricky, but it is one of the most useful skills anyone can have. My experience as a Learning Support Educator gave me the expertise that will open doors to more everyday experiences. Time-management, interpersonal skills, determination, empathy, and patience are the skills that helped me become a well-rounded Learning Support Educator, but the impression the students left on me was greater than all of those: The most fulfilling moments were watching students succeed. In addition the students I taught were my peers, which made it possible to form lasting bonds with them. Overall, my experience being a Learning Support Educator is something I will cherish forever because it provided me with essential skills, everlasting friendships, and a confidence in myself I never knew I had.