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My Academic Year as a CSW

Thinking back over the past academic year, as a CSW, it’s worthwhile to reflect on what has happened, both good and bad. At the start of the year, we are introduced to our students who come in all shapes and forms, some ready, willing and confident. Some, nervous, shy and unsure.

Either way, it is our job to encourage and empower them in their academic journey. We find a way to ensure clear communication and a good working relationship with the student. We make time to understand their needs and adapt our own working practices to meet them.

Year to year, our role varies but some things never change.

The year begins with inductions; sometimes new and intriguing, sometimes familiar and memorable. We may have worked at the establishment before and be accustomed to our surroundings and fellow staff. On the other hand, we may be walking onto unknown ground and an unfamiliar structure. However, we adapt to our surroundings like a Darwinian bird.

As CSW and student ease into the academic year, we learn about:

  • the educational establishment

  • what is expected in the course

  • the tutor’s teaching style

  • the student’s peers

  • the class dynamic

  • the student’s leaning style

  • how best to support the student and many more factors come into play.

These factors are not something we learn overnight, it takes time and progression as the academic year goes on.

For me, the environment has been relaxing and calm this year and liaisons between me, tutors, other support staff and students has come with ease and clarity.

The Deaf awareness within the establishment and classroom has also progressed and improved nicely since the start of the academic year.

Although the road has mainly been smooth, it has not been without the occasional bump. I have incurred some challenges throughout the year such as:

  • late or missing tutors

  • understanding specialist vocabulary and how to translate this

  • unco-operative students

  • and poor organisation

Without doubt, life as a CSW has its challenges and these incidences will always occur with or without warning. However, it is our job to overcome these and to reflect upon how we have handled situations and how for next time, things could be improved. With every new academic year comes new and old challenges but this means every year, as CSWs, we have opportunities to gain experiences, learn new skills and improve our working practices.

As the year continues, students relax into their environments, make new friends and get to grips with managing their workload. As a CSW we now know our students well and have many ways to support them to ensure learning can ensue.

Towards the end of the academic year, exams start to loom and the importance of revision is the constant topic of conversation. This is not only significant for our Deaf students but also for CSWs. It is our role to check the right support is in place for the students we support but also to actually support in their exams.

We must clarify our role in the exam for ourselves and for the student. I also like to remind myself of the exam regulations for support staff and prepare by revising vocabulary and course topics. Once those exams are finished, it’s not only a big relief for the students but also for us CSWs – phew!

As the academic year draws to an end, we support our students to prepare for their next step, set new goals but also to relax and enjoy their summer. Us CSWs can then also finally unwind and look forward to starting all over again with new students for the next academic year.

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