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What makes a great Teaching Assistant (TA)?

Joseph LaMothe
8 Nov 2023
5 min read
What makes a great Teaching Assistant (TA)?

Teaching Assistants (TAs) play a crucial role in the modern classroom, providing vital support for both teachers and pupils. For anyone considering a career in this rewarding field, it's important to understand the key traits and skills required to thrive. This article delves into the essential qualities of a successful Teaching Assistant, from possessing a genuine passion for children's education to demonstrating strong communication skills and everything in between.

Looking at supporting students with SEN as a TA? Check out our guide to supporting students with SEN.

7 Essential Qualities for Aspiring Successful Teaching Assistants

1. A Deep-Seated Passion for Children's Education

Passion is the cornerstone of a successful TA career. A burning desire to help children of all abilities reach their fullest potential is what fuels the drive of the most effective TAs. This passion is infectious, and children can sense genuine care and commitment, fostering an environment where they feel valued and supported.

2. Teamwork and Collaboration

Being a TA is not a solo endeavour. TAs work closely with teachers and other school staff as part of a wider educational team. The ability to foster positive working relationships and work in unison with colleagues is crucial for creating a cohesive and effective learning environment.

Talk to the teacher before the lesson begins and ask about students’ particular needs, potentially running small-group support, and if any help is needed setting up the classroom.

3. Robust Communication Skills

Can you communicate effectively with students? Can you connect with them on a personal level? Equally important is the ability to communicate effectively with parents (particularly when students have Special Educational Needs), building trust and fostering cooperative relationships.

4. Adaptability and Flexibility

The role of a TA is multifaceted and ever-changing. The ability to quickly adapt and adjust to new tasks, evolving classroom dynamics, or the specific needs of different pupils is invaluable. This flexibility allows TAs to manage their responsibilities efficiently and maintain a fluid learning environment.

Thinking on your feet is crucial here, as you go from supporting one student to another very quickly.

5. Being Proactive and Positive

TAs who truly excel in their roles are those who are willing to go above and beyond their basic duties. This might include providing additional support for students with special needs, offering pastoral care, or putting in extra hours to ensure lessons are as effective as possible.

In a busy classroom, situations can change quickly. TAs need to be proactive and forward-thinking, able to react swiftly to unexpected situations and make wise decisions that enhance the learning experience for their pupils.

Teaching is not without its challenges. Maintaining a positive attitude, even in the face of obstacles, can significantly impact the classroom environment.

A positive, proactive TA can turn any classroom into a great one!

6. Patience and Empathy

In the demanding world of education, patience and professionalism are invaluable assets. The ability to remain composed during challenging times, handle difficult situations with grace, and maintain a professional demeanour can make a significant difference to a TA's effectiveness.

It’s important to empathise with students. Understanding the difficulties that students may be facing, and providing the appropriate emotional support, is crucial to helping students thrive.

Take a moment to be empathetic and patient, and to figure out the why of a student’s behaviour, before providing support.

7. Creativity and Resourcefulness

Considering the diverse learning styles of students, creativity and resourcefulness are vital traits. These qualities allow TAs to think outside the box, develop engaging activities, and utilise available resources to enhance the learning experience.


A career as a Teaching Assistant is a highly rewarding pathway, offering the opportunity to make a significant impact on children's education. However, it requires a specific set of skills and qualities. From a deep-seated passion for children's education to robust communication skills, a willingness to go the extra mile, and a positive attitude, the role

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