A day in the life of a Learning for Life worker
The Smith Family has 135 Learning for Life workers supporting children and their families in more than 97 communities across Australia.
Learning for Life workers link children with emergent literacy and numeracy programs in their early years, and as they grow up, with comprehension, digital, financial, health and emotional literacy programs, so that they can develop the skills they need for their journey through life.
This support is enabled through mentoring and tutoring opportunities and through assistance with the costs of essential school items such as uniforms, books and excursions.
Learning for Life workers also link parents to education and skills development opportunities to help them raise their children and participate more fully in society themselves.
We asked one of our Learning for Life workers to tell us about their typical day:
Arrive at work and get myself settled for the day. I'm located in a local primary school so I say 'hi' to the admin and teaching staff on my way through to my office. They are a really important part of supporting the families that are engaged in our Learning for Life (LfL) program.
Log in and check my emails. Quite a lot of information is shared via this medium so it's really important to keep up to date and to also check which tasks require completion by the end of the week, end of the month etc, so I review my planning lists and make sure I'm making progress.
Today I am interviewing a family to commence on LfL. I really love this part of my job; it's wonderful to see the aspirations that parents have for their children and to hear from the kids as they enthusiastically share their dream of what they want to do when they grow up! Last week, a young boy told me he wanted to be a pirate on a big gold ship - who wouldn't want to? I start preparing my paperwork and wait for her to meet me here at the school.
Conduct interview with mother and we work through our partnership agreement to ensure we both understand what we will be responsible for. She's really grateful for the opportunity to support her children's education and can't wait to buy the new pair of shoes and textbook that her middle son requires.
Meet up with the Deputy Principal at my local high school. We are about to commence an online mentoring program called iTrack and I just want to make sure that the 10 students who have asked to participate have returned their forms. Thankfully they all have, so we are ready to commence matching them with an adult mentor who will 'chat' with them online for the next 19 weeks. It's a really valuable tool in helping these Year 10 students to consider what their post-school pathways might be and to have the opportunity to work with an external mentor. While I am here I undertake the required IT testing on the computers they will be using to ensure that everything will run smoothly when we have our first chat session and also arrange a time for next week to deliver a 2 hour training session to the students.
Stop for some lunch and join a conversation with the teachers about literacy plans for the school. There may be opportunities for us to explore some further opportunities based on some funding the school has recently received. I make a note to arrange a meeting with the Principal next week.
Catch up on some emails and return a phone call to a family who have recently participated in a financial literacy course that we ran. They want to share some of their savings success and tell me that they have been able to save up for one of the daughters to start attending dancing lessons as a result of the skills mum learnt in our course. It's a great story and I can definitely sense the pride she has in being able to do this herself.
Our weekly team meeting. My team is spread quite geographically so we tend to have a teleconference once a week to ensure that we are all up to date on key information, are prioritising the right things in our workloads, sharing information (both the success stories and the lessons learned!) and also helping each other out as we can. I really enjoy these sessions as they are often the only time that I have to properly catch up with my colleagues all week.
I start to prepare some of my training materials for next week's session with the iTrack students. Most of the materials are available online but I just want to read through them, make sure everything is up to date and practise on the equipment - there is nothing more embarrassing than not having technology working in front of teenagers!
A final check of emails, clear off my list of things to do for today and have a look over the tasks for tomorrow to make sure I am prepared.
Another satisfying day over!