Tips for Teaching Assistants: Making a positive first impression
Greg moved away from his competitive career in filmmaking to pursue a career in teaching as a Teaching Assistant. Since then, he hasn’t looked back! Working within schools inspired him to remain within teaching, and maybe even become a teacher one day himself. With Zen Educate, Greg has worked in nurseries, primary schools and secondary schools; he has found his niche in supporting students with SEND on a 1:1 basis.
Making a great first impression on colleagues and the senior leadership team will help advance your teaching career, whether you’re completing a short-term or long-term role. Not only will you enjoy working in the school more, but it also may lead to job requests in the future!
Since registering with Zen, I’ve tried and tested these three valuable techniques to make a good and lasting first impression in new schools as a supply teaching assistant.
1. Treat every placement like a job trial
You never know how long you’re going to be at a school on supply; one day can easily become ten if they like you enough. I treat every placement like a long-term placement trial. Every role is an opportunity to make a positive step forward in your career, so act like it!
On a trial day, make an effort to dress smartly, be on time, be prepared with a notebook and pen and have questions for the senior leadership team.
2. Fellow teachers and TAs are your greatest resource
Teachers and fellow Teaching Assistants will be your closest allies! Like in any workplace, being friendly with your colleagues will make your day easier. This is particularly important in supply roles, as fellow staff will be your back up with the kids! It’s as simple as getting to know the teacher you’re supporting, building rapport with staff in the classroom next door and engaging with the Headteacher if you meet them.
My top tip is to carry a notebook with you to jot down names. Remembering names can create a mutual sense of trust and familiarity, and give you the confidence to collaborate with others. I approach learning names like a serious assignment. I create a memorable story for each person — maybe they spill their drink, or wear a three-piece suit — I pin that identifying characteristic to their name so I can recall it later.
3. Build great rapport with the children
At the end of the day, you’re there to support the children. That will make the best impression overall. Teaching Assistants can face some challenging situations in classrooms, so be prepared and flexible — expect the wildness! The children might test the boundaries, but showing you can form that connection, despite being new, will impress the senior leadership team.
Demonstrate your ability to support children as a TA and it will reflect positively on you and your Zen profile too! If a school gives you great feedback, you can publish it for all school leaders to see.
Why work with Zen?
I realised I wanted to be a teacher after I joined Zen! I’ve enjoyed opportunities to work in different schools every week; each Teaching Assistant role has allowed me to develop new and important skills and helped to shape my career so far.
My favourite app feature is uploading a short video to accompany your profile photo. It’s a unique feature that shouldn’t be dismissed. If you’re a TA going for a job, the Headteacher can get a real feel for your teaching style and character. Good luck!
You may enjoy reading The Trial Day: How to be Confident, Calm and Most Importantly Prepared. Follow us on Instagram to see helpful bite-sized content.