Want to know what it’s like to work for Axcis? We’ve invited some of our contractors to write a blog for us. This week’s article comes from Damian Dudkiewicz who works for our London office. Damian is a teaching assistant who has been working for Axcis since 2009 – and this is what he has to say about the experience…
I heard about Axcis from very close friend of mine, Rosie who worked with me at the Lyric Theatre at the time. As an actor and physical performer I was looking for flexible job which I could do in between my theatre projects, so a teaching assistant job was the perfect job for me. The most important thing to me is that it is very flexible work. With the lifestyle performers have, it is important that I can manage my time according to castings, auditions and theatre projects.
I remember my interview with Axcis well. It was with two ladies working in the London office, which is central and easy to find. A few days later, I received my CRB certificate (now DBS), and I got a job in my local school in west London. It wasn’t an easy role in the beginning – I had some experience working with children, doing drama workshops and working with young people in German and Polish schools during my theatre projects, but I had never done it in English or worked with autistic children before – so it was a new experience and a challenge for me. However, my consultant at Axcis assured me that with my skills and personality, the role was a good fit for me. I have to say it was, and still is a very rewarding job, and I am learning all the time from the teachers and children I work with.
While working for Axcis, I have done some of the CPD courses on offer. One of them was Team Teach – which I fully recommend to anyone working in SEND Schools. The techniques I have learned have really helped in a range of potentially risky situations.
I have also made some friends in the schools I have worked in. Some of them, like me, are performers, singers, stand up comedians and artistic people who need freedom to work on a flexible basis and love doing TA work because it is a rewarding, social and flexible job. I have recommended Axcis to few of my friends, and continue to do so to anyone who wants to work as TA or become a SEND teacher in future.
I have been working on and off as a teaching assistant since 2009 in a few different schools, but most of the time in my favourite school in south west London with Axcis. Sometimes it can be a very stressful and difficult time, but I love those moments when you work with the same class for a while and can begin to see the difference you are making, when children who didn’t speak start saying single words, or doing things they couldn’t do before. Being a teaching assistant can be very moving and makes us very proud of the achievements of the children we work with.
However, the job can also have its fair share of difficult situations. I was once working with a very challenging boy. Children from the class went to have playtime outside, but he didn’t want to go, so I stayed with the teacher and that boy in the classroom. He was agitated and we knew something was going to happen – he was about to reach meltdown point and was likely to destroy something or attack one of us. With our experience of working with him, we could see it in his face. Suddenly, an idea dropped into my mind and I started to sing and dance Mamma Mia to distract this student. I felt anxious and unsure of whether this strategy might work, but moments later, the teacher joined me – and you could instantly feel the tension in the air ease. The boy relaxed noticeably and was peaceful and quiet. If anything, he seemed very surprised at our impromptu performance just for him!
I love it when there are days at school when I can use my acting skills. Sometimes lessons will allow us to all dress up and have lots joy and fun, like sport days, or national book day, Xmas etc… It can be a great job if you open your heart and mind to it. I am always learning from the children I work with how to be free, spontaneous, and present – they are great teachers!
The advice I would give to anyone who wants to work as a supply teaching assistant is to be open, present and flexible – and to use all of your skills to communicate with children and teachers you work with. It’s a great job and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
If you are interested in teaching assistant work with Axcis, register today or contact us to discuss further how we can help you. We have offices across the country and work with a diverse range of schools and candidates – you never know, we might be the perfect match for you, too!