Vocational Student Support
2.6 Use effective teaching strategies to integrate ICT into learning and teaching programs to make selected content relevant and meaningful.
5.2 Provide timely, effective and appropriate feedback to students about their achievement relative to their learning goals.
My time as an education support officer in vocational training was a highly interesting change to my week, with students usually being young adults with a range of disadvantages. Students could apply for one on one support with this institution, and I assisted students with autism, severe anxiety, acquired brain injuries, hearing loss and general cognitive issues. The kind of assistance I provided was based on the needs of the student. This usually involved teaching these students how to be organised and disciplined enough to study successfully, as well as providing them understanding and personal coping strategies.
One student I assisted was training to be a mental health support worker. He had obviously experienced much difficulty himself and was wishing to assist others in similar situations. He also expressed a significant level of anxiety when dealing with computers, as he was essentially computer illiterate. Given this I took the step to combine these needs for him. He had an assignment to prepare on Men’s Depression, and I taught him how first to use the basics in computing, then how to assemble a presentation in Microsoft PowerPoint to complete this assignment. By the end of this situation this student was visibly more confident with computers and was quite heartened by what he had managed to achieve.
Throughout out this exercise and while working with all of my vocational students, I consistently provided feedback on my student's work, and on their progress in general. This feedback was gently and clearly given, considering the sensitivity of my students and aimed to ensure that the learning goals that we established were eventually achieved. I was often required to provide feedback to my students on their progress with assignments and other work deadlines, the time constraints of which required that I be organised and timely with my feedback.
As an example of the kind of constructive feedback I offered, two of my students with autism experienced much social anxiety. Due to this, my feedback on their studies was often aimed at boosting their comfort and confidence, as well assisting them to cover course written requirements. Although at the start of the time I had with these young men they were disorganised, distressed and failing in their work, once I had assisted them to feel secure, things began to work out very well, as they were both more than capable of succeeding academically.
Aside from working with students on their studies, I was also able to just be there to listen to them. Working in the city with a timetable that was up to me to organise made for an interesting and dynamic role. By the end of the year, I became very well regarded by the senior staff of my workplace, as I managed to engage positively with students that were known to be experiencing serious difficulty, and then assist them to succeed.