A classroom can be a busy place. A teacher is tasked with the challenge of educating many – sometimes well over 30 – energetic pupils. Most definitely a challenge. That’s why Teaching Assistants (TAs) are so important.
During the COVID crisis, this role became essential in keeping schools open. The UCL recently published a study spanning January - March 2021. Their findings included the fact that TAs played a vital role in helping children carry on learning from home.
Now schools are returning to classrooms for the new year, TAs will be in high demand once again. So if you're excited about educating young minds, but don't have a formal degree, this could be a great option for you. Here are the 6 essential skills you'll need to be come an effective and inspiring teaching assistant:
Positivity is key. The classroom can be a stressful place for teachers. So, having positive energy around them is helpful. Providing emotional support is a very important part of the role. Doing so with a smile on your face will be highly beneficial to the teacher you are working with, as well as the pupils.
Returning to school for a new school year can be anxiety-producing for many children even at the best of times. And although school rules for England may be almost back to pre-COVID, there may still be an increase in stress for some pupils. Be mindful of this fact and patient and helpful with those who might be struggling.
Just like teachers, teaching assistants must be prepared for their day. Knowing the lesson plans and what you are going to be covering and ensuring you are prepared will increase your effectiveness. Think about what you are going to say, the messages you are going to deliver to the pupils, and ensure you are on top of the topics. Attempting to fly through your work day off the cuff will make you less effective. Stay in close contact with your teacher so that you can research properly.
Set yourself up as a positive influence on the pupils you are working with. Be calm, positive and helpful. It is vital that you allow them to see you as an approachable person. And be someone they can talk to about anything they need. Finding the right balance here is crucial. Be assertive enough that they respect you, but personable enough that they feel comfortable talking to you.
Above all, set a positive example through your actions, behaviour and words.
You need to be adaptable. There are many different situations in which you may need to adapt quickly. From a late change in the lesson place, to the need to change your tone of voice depending on which pupil you are speaking to.
When something changes mid-lesson, you will need to show flexibility in assisting your teacher to manage the change. You will move quickly from very different situations, mixing between addressing individuals and groups. So you'll want to be ready to change your approach at any point in time.
The clue is in the name, TAs are there to assist. Be helpful and provide support for your teacher. Perform the tedious tasks so that your teacher has more time to focus on the lesson. Photocopying, handing stuff out, collecting books, preparing stationary. Various little things that will make the teachers life a lot easier.
Engaging with pupils is so important. You are on the front line, in regular contact with them. You need to learn and understand their personalities. What makes them tick? Are you noticing when they are down or struggling? The more engaged you are, the quicker you will be able to notice issues and the better the feedback you will be able to provide.
If you think being a teaching assistant is something you'd love, consider registering online today. Or contact one of our education sector branches. Our friendly education consultants can help you get started.