Meet Angela Ryan

A graduate of the Master of Learning Intervention

Where are you currently working?

I currently work at St. Lawrence Primary School, a Catholic School in Melbourne’s Western Suburbs. The school was opened in 2010, and has grown rapidly over the past six years. St. Lawrence now has approximately 400 students now enrolled from Prep to Grade 6.

Tell us about your role?

The role I have at St. Lawrence is the ‘Co-ordinator of Additional Learning Needs’. I am a member of the School’s Leadership Team, and work closely with our students, our families, teachers, Learning Assistants and Teaching and Learning Coordinators. I provide extensive support for students (as well as their families and their teachers) with additional learning and behavioural needs. My role includes facilitating Program Support Group (PSG) meetings, writing Individualised Education Plans (IEPs) with teachers and students, providing coaching and classroom support for teachers and Learning Assistants, leading Professional Development sessions for educators, and working with students who present with challenging behaviour.

My Principal approached me about taking on the role of Co-ordinator of Additional Learning Needs at the end of 2013, and made me aware of the ‘More Support for Students with Disabilities' (MSSD) course, which was being offered by the Catholic Education Office at the start of 2014.

Why did you choose to study the Master of learning Intervention?

The MSSD provided the foundation for my decision to undertake the Master of Learning Intervention. The learning throughout the MSSD course was invaluable, and I became increasingly passionate about working with students with additional learning needs, providing support to their families, and to educators in our school community. I loved the challenge of study, learning about new approaches and strategies when working with students with additional learning needs, and took a great deal of satisfaction in putting my learning into action. Further, I began to see the benefits of implementing my new knowledge with the students, families and teachers I worked with, and I was inspired to continue to learn and evolve. Enrolling in and completing the Master of Learning Intervention seemed to be the next logical step in my professional journey.

What was the best part about studying your course?

The Master of Learning Intervention provided me with an opportunity to continue to build on skills and strategies when working with students, families and educators, but it also allowed me to focus on and explore in greater detail the areas of intervention that are of particular interest to me.

Perhaps the greatest gain from undertaking and completing the Master of Learning Intervention was that it opened my eyes to what is possible for students with additional learning needs and challenging behaviour, and I am excited by the possibilities for our students and our school community.

Tell us about your capstone project?

My capstone project focused on the ways in which teachers in my educational setting were promoting self-determination and setting goals with student with Autism Spectrum Disorder during their termly Teacher-Student Personalised Learning Plan Conversations. I have been able to share the findings from this research, and assist educators in my setting to use the key strategies I identified to support students with IEPs to have a ‘voice’ and contribute to their personalised learning goals. Grade 3-6 students in my educational setting are now provided with opportunities to contribute to PSG meetings and devise goals on their Individualised Education Plans, which is evidence of a significant shift that has taken place since I completed the Master of Learning Intervention.

The most challenging part of the course was finding the balance between home, work and study. Being organised, setting long and short term goals, and having a supportive network of colleagues, family and friends allowed me to juggle and find that balance. I also had to be realistic about my limitations and time constraints, and be reasonable in the expectations I had for myself.

What was the most valuable aspect of the course?

Some of the most valuable aspects of this course include hearing from the range of guest speakers, from a range of educational settings. I was moved and inspired by their knowledge and passion. Moreover, I found that I learned so much through engaging and having rigorous discussions with other professionals in the course. I learned so much from my fellow students and thoroughly enjoyed the insight and feedback they provided me with.