Schools are closed for the summer but it is still important to refresh our classroom knowledge whenever we can so I have compiled a short list of my top tips for being a teaching assistant.
1) Show Dedication
Being a great teaching assistant means demonstrating your passion for teaching every day and going above and beyond what is usually expected. This may include creating additional learning materials, coming up with exciting activities or helping the teacher set up the classroom at the start and end of each day. Teaching assistants who show their enthusiasm, dedication and passion for supporting children really stand out from the crowd and the pupils will also pick up on your attitude in class!
2) Be Proactive & Take Initiative
Being proactive and using your own initiative in the classroom are fundamental skills that any teaching assistant needs to be able to demonstrate. Teachers often say that the best teaching assistants are the ones who don’t need micromanaging or being told what to do all the time. Be confident in your abilities to work independently and take ownership of certain activities within the classroom. If you can see certain pupils are struggling, or if others are finding work perhaps a bit too easy, take the initiative to assist them and provide additional tasks.
Additionally, being proactive can really help the class teacher when they are trying to manage behaviour issues within the classroom. Whilst the teacher is managing the pupils involved in an incident, you can be keeping the rest of the class focused and engaged and ensuring minimal disruption.
3) Be Flexible and Adaptable
Every day is a new day in the classroom and you never know what new or unfamiliar situations you could be faced with. You need to be able to adapt your teaching style for different classes or ability groups and this may happen with very little notice. You will also need to be as flexible as possible with your time to meet the needs of the teacher, meaning that pupils get the best possible learning experience and environment. This may mean starting slightly earlier or finishing later to ensure all resources are prepped and ready for the next day.
4) Understand Pupils Needs
Being able to have a keen understanding of what each pupil needs in order to learn effectively and successfully is another vital part of being a great TA. As you gain more experience in the classrooms and across different year groups, you will pick up a clear understanding of how to identify how a child learns depending on their stage of development. Some students may be able to work independently and need additional challenges with work, while others may need additional support and intervention lessons to help them.
You should also have a basic understanding of how lessons and activities can be adapted to support children with SEN. Not every child with SEN will have a 1:1 who is an expert in their learning needs so it will be up to you to support them! Check out our other blogs and resources on how to support children with SEN.
Hopefully this article can be of use to any new TAs starting out their career or as a refresher to any existing TAs who are excited to return to work in September.