Harrow International School Bangkok (Working with Lower School)
Introduction and Background
Eva has worked with Harrow International School Beijing previously, and this year we were invited by one of their partner schools, HIS Bangkok, to do some training with their Early Years and Lower School (Pre-Prep) TAs. HIS Bangkok caters for children and young people from 3-18, with a largely Thai population, although there are students from across the globe. The TA training programme has only started over the last year, and most of the training they have received has been in-house. We would work with the school for 3 days - firstly we would deliver a half day programme of tailored training based on specifications set out by the school, on the second day we would observe all of the TAs in practice and give feedback to Senior Management, and on the third day we would do a half day of training based on what we had observed to both teachers and TAs. Eva would work with the Early Years team, whilst I would work with the team from Pre-Prep (Years 1-5).
What we found out
We received a very warm welcome to the school, and it was clear the staff have worked hard to create a positive, supportive environment for their students. During training and observations, it became abundantly clear that the TAs were incredibly hardworking and conscientious, which made our work much easier! Whilst there were already some excellent classroom practices going on, the observations made it clear where focus was needed, and the opportunity to react to this in delivering our second training session was fantastic.
How we helped and services provided
Thursday training session: Topics covered - The Role of The TA, Behaviour Management, Supporting EAL Students, Quality Questioning.
This was an action packed afternoon! It acted as a precursor to the session on Saturday, and it was great for me to ascertain what the team understood about the role of the TA, and gave me some great points to work on. The TAs really enjoyed this session - it really opened their eyes to how varied the role of the TA is, and for the first time they were provided with the opportunity to discuss practice and share experiences across the year groups, which was incredibly valuable. We went through strategies they can use to promote positive behaviour, and provided an insight into what it was like to be an EAL learner - an Arabic video came in very handy and there were lots of confused faces in the room! Providing these perspectives really allowed the TAs to learn from each other and share best practice, which was great to see.
Friday: TA observations
During the course of the day, I observed 20 TAs across Years 1-5, for approximately 15 minutes each. Whilst this only gave me a snapshot of each person, it was great to see so much positivity, and the children enjoying learning so much, across the whole Lower School. I would have loved to stay longer with each person and get more of an insight! We fed back to the Senior Management who were pleased that our observations were in line with their thoughts, and we provided them solid information to use in professional development.
Saturday: Training session - Teachers and TAs Working Together
It was great to see so many people giving up their Saturday morning to come together and do the training, and it was even better to see so many teacher/TA pairings there together. After initial discussions on the role of the teacher and TA, the teams got together to reflect on how the TAs were being utilised in the classroom. They were given Level 3 criteria in Supporting Learning Activities, Promoting Positive Behaviour and Supporting Assessment for Learning, and asked to consider what the TA was already doing, what they weren't doing, and what changes could be made. This proved to be a really useful activity for all involved, being able to measure exactly which areas needed development. We moved to discussing how to raise the profile of the TA in the classroom, discussing particular behaviour management strategies, key phrases they can both use to show consistency and the use of rewards and sanctions.
Something I found very interesting was the discussion around the planning cycle - it came out that the TAs weren't very involved in the observation, assessing or recording part of the cycle, and it was great to see some detailed thoughts going on as to how this could be put in place.
The session ended with each pair putting together an Action Plan, based on what we'd discussed, of things they were going to start doing from Monday in order to improve the quality of support offered and to raise the profile of the TAs. Everyone took something away from this, and I can't wait to hear how they get on.
This was a really positive and beneficial few days with HIS Bangkok. I loved working with the team, and seeing their practice. Getting the chance to be reactive to what I had observed was great, and allowed me deliver relevant training that would make a real difference in the classrooms, and to the students. The teachers and TAs all took away strategies and plans they could easily put in place to start improving practice, and all demonstrated a genuine commitment to this.