Education support professionals make a huge impact on student life and career development. Their impact is even stronger when they have clear expectations, opportunities for professional growth and protection from layoffs.
These professionals perform a variety of jobs, from assisting students in classrooms to cleaning the school and providing meals. Without them, schools wouldn’t be able to function.
Academic support encompasses a broad range of educational strategies, including tutoring sessions, supplemental courses and instructional opportunities, summer learning experiences, faculty and volunteer advisories, college and career services, and alternative ways of grouping and instructing students.
In general, schools provide academic support to students who are underperforming in school or who demonstrate a learning need that cannot be addressed by existing instructional approaches. These support options may vary in rigor, intensity, and duration, depending on student needs and the broader context in which they are offered, but all offer the goal of accelerating progress toward meeting learning standards or generally succeeding in school.
For teachers, providing academic support is part of their daily professional responsibilities. Creating the conditions that allow teachers to do this requires comprehensive professional-development opportunities and job-embedded professional learning.
Social/emotional learning (SEL) is a critical component of educational support. It helps students develop a healthy self-image, take responsibility for their actions, and build positive relationships with others.
Research shows that well-implemented SEL programs improve academics, reduce bullying, decrease dropout rates, and promote character development. These skills enable kids to set goals and lead successful lives.
School leaders can create a school culture that emphasizes the importance of showing empathy in relationships, using effective communication, and demonstrating respect for diversity. They can also inform families and communities about school-wide initiatives that support student and staff emotional well-being.
Teachers can integrate SEL into their lesson plans by providing opportunities to practice and build these skills throughout the day. They can use a research-backed SEL curriculum or tools to engage their students such as myViewBoard Sens, a visual learning platform that tracks room occupancy and emotion recognition technology for social-emotional feedback.
Behavioral support teachers work to help students develop social skills, improve their behavior, and avoid serious problem behaviors that interfere with learning. This career requires a lot of skill.
Many behavioral support teachers have training in child and adolescent development and education. They must also be able to communicate with teachers, special educators, parents, and other school staff.
This is a high-demand job and can lead to excellent employment opportunities. The national job outlook for behavioral support teachers is 6 percent through 2024, and there is especially strong demand in California, Massachusetts, and New Jersey.
Behavioral interventions can target individual student needs or classwide goals. They are effective in preventing serious individual Tier 3 behavior problems and improving the school climate. They are often data-driven and based on proven strategies that have been implemented in schools nationwide.
Health support refers to a range of activities that improve the health of individuals and communities, primarily through voluntary behavior change. They include education services, public health campaigns, social work, community organizing and mass media efforts.
In schools, health educators educate students about health topics such as smoking, nutrition, exercise, sexuality, alcohol abuse, drug use and other health issues. They may also conduct physical exams, prescribe medications and offer 504 Accommodations.
They develop health and wellness programs; create and conduct mass media campaigns; train peer educators, counselors and advocates; and write grants to fund these efforts.
They provide both short-term supportive inputs to health systems (such as distributing free condoms) and long-term strengthening activities (such as improving respiratory function, increasing immunity or overall energy levels). The balance between these needs to be driven by country context. For example, in a fragile, post-disaster or post-conflict environment, supporting inputs are most important to improve services immediately and strengthen over the long term.