5 Point Checklist to being an Amazing TA
All Teaching Assistants know the importance of their role. They also know the impact they create makes their job incredibly rewarding.
The 5 characteristics all Teaching Assistants should be doing on a daily basis are:
1. Personalised Support
All children are individuals, learning in their own individual way. It’s therefore essential we get to know their personal interests, learning style and the types of activities they enjoy. Knowing this information will help us to adapt learning activities to make them relevant to the children.
Personalised support also implies that we are able to make judgements about how much support a child needs, when to take a step back and allow them to try things for themselves. Find out as much as possible about any additional needs the child may have and carry out research into how to make learning more accessible.
Remember that many children struggle to make abstract and challenging concepts real. This is key role of anyone supporting teaching and learning. Always ask yourself how you can bring the learning to life and make difficult concepts very real through explanation and choice of resources.
Preparation is the essential part in delivering outstanding learning support. Think planning meetings with the teacher, discussions before an activity, thinking through the activity, carefully considering your choice of resources.
You might want to have your questions prepared to enable deeper level of thinking, you may need an extension task ready for children who finish earlier than others, perhaps considering the types of challenges you may come up against during the activity e.g. what might the children find difficult to understand? Could there be any opportunities for children to lose interest? How are you going to promote positive behaviour?
3. Great Communication
Ask any teacher or experienced TA how they ensure a great working relationship in the classroom and the answer will always be communication. Communication about the children’s progress, the planning and how it can be adapted, communication about what went well, what hasn’t gone well and how improvements could be made next time.
Being a great communicator also requires a level of honesty. Teachers appreciate honesty. Remember if they have written the plans some of the content may not make sense to even the most experienced teachers, so always ask for clarification and go through the plans to ensure you have interpreted the plans correctly.
4. Building Confidence & Self-Esteem
All adults can remember someone who boosted their confidence and self-esteem when they were a child (and those who didn’t!). Strive to be one of the few adults children will remember for making a positive difference to their lives. Do this by acknowledging the small things, finding opportunities to get to know the children and talk to them about their interests, use this knowledge then to build self-belief and promote the idea they can achieve anything they want to. Sometimes the only difference between people who reach their goals and those who don’t is belief. Make it your purpose to create the next generation of believers!
5. Promote Independence
Independence is in no doubt a key skill for children, an essential by the time they leave school. However, many TAs don’t understand the difference between supporting children with their learning and over-supporting. Over-supporting will impair independence and encourages dependence. Outstanding TAs must always think how to build confidence and develop independence gradually. Challenging children to achieve small goals e.g. writing two sentences on their own before returning and praising them for their efforts, can support the gradual development of independence.