“Small steps for a brighter future”
Those are the words of Carolina, a TA who has been registered with Sugarman for 7 years and currently works across a number of SEN schools across London.
Working on supply fits in perfectly with Carolina’s lifestyle. She has a love for the arts and regularly facilitates women and young people at various drama groups. Having this flexibility allows her to share her passion, whilst using her theatre skills to contribute to the classroom.
She explained: “Reading the room and taking note of someone’s body language has helped me understand pupils better. I put myself in their situation and think how would I respond to that? Sometimes you need to be hands-on but respect their boundaries. It’s about communicating on different levels.”
Having worked in both mainstream and SEN Primary schools, Carolina has had to adapt to a different way of teaching and try new approaches to lessons, which wasn’t easy to begin with.
“I have always taught drama within an education setting, but I’m not from this country and never went to school here. So it has been a completely new experience for me going into schools with special needs. It’s a different world and has definitely given me a different perspective on life.
“I’ve never been to a school where 90% of people have special needs; wheelchair uses, autistic, it’s opened new doors to me. It has been an intense learning process.”
Carolina describes how the smallest tasks can really make a difference to the development of a child with special needs and the day may just consist of helping them with everyday tasks, such as crossing the road or learning to share. All to enhance their social skills and build confidence.
She explained: “In SEN schools, you can spend an hour with a pupil just trying to get them from A to B. It’s about helping them with their basic needs and keeping them calm and engaged. You never know what the day will be like so it’s never boring. You always have so much to learn from children.”
Born and raised in Brazil, Carolina fondly remembers a teacher from her school days who has inspired her to work with young people and bring a new dynamic to her teaching roles.
“My philosophy teacher in Brazil really inspired me and opened me up to a whole new way of thinking. I am where I am today because of her. She taught me that there are so many possibilities and people are so unique and there are many ways we as people can contribute to society.”
With her many years of drama experience, Carolina has found unique ways to communicate with pupils in her class, for those that may not work well with a pen and paper, as well as some students who are non- verbal. Using various forms of expression has allowed her to form close bonds and bring out the best in the child.
“I wasn’t a brilliant student. I think better when I move around, which is why I chose arts to express myself. I can identify when a child may need extra help. I will find other ways to teach them, such as using a sensory room or doing some role play. You see them slowly improve and enjoy being there.
“It’s more about encouraging them to take risks and being confident enough to try. The exchange between yourself and the child is so powerful. You see them as an individual and not just part of a classroom.”
With Carolina’s many years of experience in the education sector, there are many reasons why she recommends this career path and has no plans to stop now. The work she has received from Sugarman Education has helped her develop her skills and provide a number of great opportunities.
“I would encourage anyone to work in education. Life is raw and real and you see it firsthand. You really grow as a person and can bring those skills to any work you do. I learn so much from other teachers and how patient they are.
“Bianca my consultant at Sugarman is lovely – I love her! I have tried different agencies and it’s just not worth leaving her! She is so kind, very responsive and understanding. I have never had any issues.”
We asked Carolina if you could give one piece of advice to someone considering a role as a TA, what would you say?
She replied: “Forget everything you know and just be open to learning new things. Be patient. See things with fresh eyes.”
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