The best part of being a Switch leader is connecting with students to show them how much Jesus loves them regardless of their background, social skills, emotional needs, sensory needs, cognitive abilities, or physical abilities. But some students need more support than an individual small group leader can give—in the form of taking a break, showing a student what’s expected of them, helping them use sensory calming and focusing items as needed, and much more.
You, as a Switch Support leader, work with campus staff to identify students who need extra support and step in to help them so that every Switch student is valued, taught, and loved uniquely in the same way God uniquely loves each of us.
Want to know a little about the kinds of challenges some of the students you might work with are facing? Read more about that here. Wonder what you’ll actually do each week? Keep reading! Here are some of the ways you’ll use the gifts of flexibility, problem-solving, patience, and love God’s given you.
What Will I Do as a Switch Support Leader?
- A one-on-one Switch Support leader provides one-on-one leadership and attention to any student who needs it. Switch Support leaders consistently work with and get to know the student so the student will feel safe. The student will be safer, too, because there is an extra set of hands and eyes to monitor the student’s needs. A one-on-one support leader may work with a student for several weeks, months, or years as needed.
- On-call Switch Support leaders work with Switch staff.
- They can work with any new students who may arrive at the campus whose family specifically asks for extra support.
- They work with campus staff to identify and work with students who may need extra support.
- Example: Any student can have an “off” day, causing them to display challenging behavior that requires extra support. At the discretion of the staff, the on-call Switch Support leader can work in tandem with an existing small group leader to support a student. This allows existing small group leaders to focus on their group more easily. On-call Switch Support leaders may step in and out to help other students as needed.
- Switch Support leaders partner with the whole family. It’s stressful for moms or dads who are sometimes called to pick their student up from Switch due to challenging behaviors. A family with a Switch Support leader can enjoy peace of mind because the leader works closely with them to learn what works at home or school, and helps apply those methods to offer a consistent, effective experience at Switch for the student.
- A Switch Support leader is not always needed. The goal of Switch Support is to provide one-on-one support for only as long as it’s needed. A student may have a developmental breakthrough in Switch at any point. When they’re able to participate in Switch using the same supports as their peers, their assigned Switch Support leader can begin to work with a new family.
- Switch Support leaders aren’t meant to follow around every student with differences. A parent dropped off a student to Switch and mentioned they have autism. Do they need a Switch Support leader’s help? Maybe not.
- As a Switch Support leader you’re an incredible blessing to students who need extra support, but you’re not a catch-all, mandatory support system to be called in simply because of a student’s diagnosis.
- Be confidential about a label or diagnosis the parent told you about unless it becomes obvious the student needs additional support.
- Many students with differences don’t demonstrate challenging behaviors and may just need more time to get used to their new environment.
- Switch Support leaders reinforce the curriculum with a student at the student’s level. A great Switch Support leader will figure out what their student is interested in and will use that as their starting point for bringing Scripture and God’s love into the student’s world. Creative strategies include:
- Learning ways to communicate with a student who is non-verbal
- Singing to a student who doesn’t respond well to speech
- Using a sensory calming and focusing item to help a student relax and refocus
The bottom line? You’ll get to know the students you work with and what they respond to best. You’re becoming the support a student needs in order for them to feel included and safe enough to let down their guard and join their peers as they follow Christ together.