Session 211: Teaching/Classroom Assistants

-Date: Thursday 17th July 2014 – Hosted by UKEdChat & ICTMagic

Topic: Teaching Assistants – Valuable Asset or Waste of Time?

This session was designed to talk about the positives and negatives of having teaching / classroom assistants in schools, focusing on these questions:

  • What are the best qualities/skills of your Teaching Assistant/s?
  • What are the minimum formal qualifications all Classroom Assistants should have?
  • What are the main duties that you assign to your Teaching Assistant?
  • How do you manage/inform your teaching/classroom assistants during a lesson?
  • How do you deal with Teaching/Classroom assistants who are also parents of children within your school?

The summary and archive are below…

[pullquote]I think we also miss the opportunity to use the TA to challenge the most gifted in the classroom.” @TonyCassidy[/pullquote]

The purpose of this session was for teachers to share their experiences, tips and management tips for working with Teaching/Classroom Assistants (TAs). It’s clear that how TA’s are used looks very different from setting to setting, but most notably from primary to secondary schools. For example, one secondary school teacher – who had been teaching for 11 years – has never had the support of a classroom assistant; and another contributor noted how they have problems with students not respecting TAs in secondary schools.

TA did this for my classroom for Sept (Batman themed literacy). I could never have done this! (@kieronjm85)

One of the first questions explored was the qualities or skills which are best for classrooms. Organised, passionate, enthusiastic, caring, intuitive, willing to support were some responses, with Clara Galàn noting how TAs develop closer relationships with students, especially during whole class instruction. Artistic skills are also appreciated, but a degree of flexibility is appreciated especially when lessons take an unexpected direction in learning.

The question was posed about the minimum level of qualifications which should be held by TAs, especially as there is an army of enthusiastic parents within schools whose own academic qualifications fall short of guidelines. Some felt that a degree should be held, whereas others applaud the skills offered from TAs, and should compliment the teacher.

One contributor shared that when a TA works with high ability groups in Maths, she often gets sums wrong – although she is good in English – whether this is good lesson for the pupils or not is open to further discussion.

One common frustration shared by a few was the problem of not having the opportunity and time to discuss lessons with TAs beforehand. Indeed some know how to work together but what is missing are whole school structure that encourage and allow that collaborative behaviour. From a different perspective, a former TA shared her frustrations of not being able to challenge poor teaching and poor practice, which is when relations between staff can be pressured as battles of power and internal politics can interfere. It was conceded that most experiences with TAs are good, but it’s always the really bad ones that stick in the memory. Ideally, involving TAs in the planning and assessing process is necessary, but requires time and a willingness by all concerned.

A controversial question was posed asking why not have more qualified teachers and fewer TAs? We’ll leave that one with you.

Tweets of the Week:

Via: Tony Cassidy – I think we also miss the opportunity to use the TA to challenge the most gifted in the classroom.
Via: Lorraine Abbott – Like idea of allocating TAs to dept to build expertise n become a more integrated part of a focused, small team.

211 – #ukedchat Archive – Teaching Assistants

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The Editorial Account of UKEdChat, managed by editor-in-chief Colin Hill, with support from Martin Burrett from the UKEd Magazine. Pedagogy, Resources, Community.

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