The president of the Fédération du personnel de soutien scolaire (FPSS-CSQ), Éric Pronovost, welcomes Dominic Latouche, vice-president of labor relations and professional life, as well as Martin Cayouette, advisor to the FPSS-CSQ, in order to discuss the proposed Classroom Assistant role for school support staff as part of the ongoing pilot projects. Facebook Live Video.
What is the role of the Classroom Assistant?
The Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ), the Fédération du personnel de soutien scolaire (FPSS-CSQ) and two other school-sector federations affiliated with the CSQ have from the beginning been committed to this MEQ project, especially when it comes to respecting task boundaries and better defining the role of the Classroom Assistant.
The role of the Classroom Assistant
The role of the Classroom Assistant is to accompany students, to help the teacher in non-pedagogical tasks and to ensure the well-being and safety of the students in their academic lives. Assistance should be provided to the class or a group of students in that class, not to an individual student or the entire school.
This classroom assistance must be in addition to the support and professional services already provided by the school and should not replace them or compensate for a lack of services for special needs students. This service should therefore not replace the essential work done by Special Education Technicians (TES), Social Work Technicians (TTP) and the Attendants for Handicapped Students (PEH).
It is important to distinguish special education services from those of the Classroom Assistant; they are complementary, not competitive. If a student is already being assisted by a Special Education Technician during a class, the Classroom Assistant is not there to replace them, but rather to meet other needs in the classroom. Do not hesitate to consult your local union if problems arise in this regard.
The needs of students are so important that specific services should not be eliminated or replaced by others that do not meet the same objectives.
The classroom assistant’s tasks
The Ministry proposed a list of tasks that can be executed by the classroom assistant:
Tasks related to students’ safety
- Accompany and supervise students during reception and travel periods, as needed;
- Ensure the management and safety of students, in conformity with the code of conduct and safety measures (for example, provide first aid).
Tasks related to the smooth running of the classroom
- Help with compliance: as needed, intervene with students to uphold class or life rules;
- Support students by ensuring the climate and environment are suited for learning and school work execution.
Tasks related to the wellbeing of students
- Contribute to simple follow-ups with students returning to the classroom;
- Help to develop student autonomy (for example, help with dressing and undressing, contribute to students’ material management, including objects, clothes and school supplies).
Tasks related to students’ school work
- Help students settle in the classroom and get ready to work;
- Answer simple questions in keeping with the instructions given to the student by the teacher; Support some students for simple specific needs (for example, supervise and help a student in the execution of an evaluation).
Tasks related to classroom life
- Assist the teacher in their execution of some administrative tasks (for example, taking attendance);
- Contribute to maintaining classroom order and cleanliness, as well as supplies maintenance; Collaborate in the preparation and posting of various materials (for example, plasticizing);
- Collaborate in the organization of events, activities and educational outings (for example, back to school party, museum outing).
Tasks related to meetings
- Attend parents’ information meetings, as needed.
This is not a complete list of tasks, but is a good reference point since it respects everyone’s function boundaries.
Bonds that need to be clarified and forged
The Classroom Assistant is a distinct member of the school team, and their role must be recognized and respected.
School administrators are responsible for supervising the person assuming the function of a Classroom Assistant.
Teachers are not responsible for supervising or coordinating Classroom Assistants, and the Classroom Assistant is not subordinate to the teacher.
As with the time already set aside for consultation, good communication is a determining factor in establishing a good relationship between the teacher and the Classroom Assistant.
No specific provision has been made for consultation time, even though the CSQ and the federations have insisted on this point with the MEQ. But there is nothing to prevent us from setting aside time within the hours granted for classroom assistance. Management support on this issue will be invaluable.
The relationship between the teacher and the Classroom Assistant should be one of collaboration.
If you have any questions or if you encounter any difficulties, do not hesitate to contact your local union, so that it can intervene directly with your school service center or school board.