Teaching Assistants are an essential part of pupils’ progression and everyday learning in schools. The role of a primary, secondary or SEN Teaching Assistant can include; whole class or 1-2-1 support and taking small intervention groups. Many graduates take up year-log posts as a to gain valuable experience for their chosen career. Some career destinations include;
Speech and Language Therapist
Before you read our tips take a look at OpenLearn’s free course ‘Teaching assistants: support in action’. This free learning from the Open University looks at how the role of a Teaching Assistant has developed over time and will enable you to identify the essential skills needed going forward. The four-part course looks at: the rise of assistants, contribution and roles, support in action and looking to the future. To take part, click here.
Before you embark on your Teaching Assistant journey, be sure to prepare yourself with what’s to come. Research the school you will be working in, find out about their behavioural policy as well as looking at their latest news and changes. Showing an interest in wider school activities and willingness to get involved in any upcoming events will help you make a great impression and stand out as a dedicated practitioner.
During your first few days as a teaching assistant it is all too easy to let your nerves get the better of you, worry about doing something wrong and end up waiting to be given orders. Before your first day it is always a good idea to note down some questions you have, this shows you have thought seriously about the role and are interested in learning. Some questions may include;
‘What sort of skills do you want me to display in order to be successful?’
‘What do you expect me to achieve within the first few months in order to progress in the role?’
‘What can I hope to achieve by the end of my time as a teaching assistant and do you have the capacity to keep me on during my teacher training?’
It always good to find out about the upcoming curriculum so you can plan ahead. Twinkl have some excellent resources available for Teaching Assistants to download here.
However, teachers are busy people so getting involved immediately and making your own decisions on how to help is a great way to prove your value straight away. Displaying a natural eagerness to help and a proactive approach as a teaching assistant will also give your superiors a good idea of your potential as a teacher.
In every class there is likely to be a few pupils who need your support more than the others. As such a really important strength for teachers is to be able to pick-out the students who are in need of more help and attention. The ability to recognise which students are struggling with which tasks is a key skill all good teachers must show.
Work the Room
Although somewhat contradictory to the previous point it is also worth bearing in mind that it is all too easy to spend your whole time with one student. Of course, if you may have a 1:1-based support role than this is the whole idea; but if not, it is essential that you circulate around the classroom working with different individuals and groups, giving each student the attention they need and deserve.
If you are a recent graduate who is looking to gain experience as a Teaching Assistant, we'd love to hear from you. Take a look at the range of vacancies we have available on our website here.
The EduStaff Team