10 Tips for Teaching Assistants
We all know that teaching is a hard career. However, teaching assistants (TA’s) often find it more difficult due to the position that they find themselves in. If you’re new to the role of you’ve lost your way a little, our 10 tips for teaching assistants should get you on the right path.
Start by Making a Great First Impression
It may sound pretty obvious, but being friendly, polite and approachable is one of the best things you can do as a teaching assistant. Not only will it help you to build rapport with your students, this method will also help you to get along with the people who you’ll be working with on a day-to-day basis. After all, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
Get to Know the Students You Teach
To be an effective TA, you need to understand your pupils. This includes who they are, what they like, what they dislike and what makes them lose concentration in the classroom. To be a highly skilled teaching assistant, you can’t just apply the same approaches to every student you work with as it’s likely they’ll all learn differently. The more you get to know your pupils, the more you’ll understand about those differences and the best teaching method to apply.
Think about Special Needs and Disabilities
When you have a classroom full of students, it’s likely that one or more of those pupils will have special education needs. If this is the case, you need to make sure that you fully understand their conditions so that you can support them and offer extra assistance. Do your own homework and read up about the condition or speak to other teachers in the school to get advice from them.
Don’t Go in and Change Things
So, you’ve got your first TA job! Exciting right? You may be full of ideas but it’s important that you don’t go in and rush things. Take the time to get to know the class and the teachers you’re working with. If there’s room for improvement, feel free to make some suggestions. By going in and turning things on its head, you may upset those around you.
Keep in Contact with Parents/Guardians
Parents and guardians like to know what’s going on at the school their children are in. You can make sure that they feel happy leaving their kids at the school you work at by working closely with them and keep them up to date with what’s what. Don’t bombard them with messages or phone calls, simply communicate as appropriate. Send a letter home if their child has done something amazing, ring them if the child is in trouble or send an email to any changes that are going on at the school. The more informed the parents and guardians are, the more pleased they’ll feel.
Do as Much Training as Possible
Keeping your own qualifications up to date is essential. There’s always something TA’s can be learning. The more training you’ll do, the more you’ll understand the role of a teaching assistant. Whether it’s teaching yourself, a one-to-one session or a group meeting, always be willing to say yes to a little extra help.
Be as Flexible as You Can
In many cases, TA’s will be hired to help teach a specific class. From time to time, however, you may be asked to help out in another classroom. Try and take up these opportunities as you’ll be able to expand your knowledge and skills by working with a new set of pupils.
Think Positive, Be Positive
Having a positive outlook on things will make you feel a lot better and a lot more comfortable. By focussing on the bright side of life, your mental attitude towards life and work increases. This then leads to you believing that you can overcome any obstacle and difficulty, which is an essential quality to have as a TA.
Go Above and Beyond in Your Role
The more you can do as a teaching assistant, the more you’ll get out of the job. If asked to help out after school with a club, say yes. If asked to stay back and work an extra couple of hours, say yes. Although doing these will help the students and the school, you still need to make sure that you’re taking time for yourself as you don’t want to become worn down. Read our 5 ways teachers can beat stress blog post to find out more.
Try and Stay Calm in Every Situation
A school can be an incredibly stressful environment to be in, which is why remaining calm is a must. Don’t allow stress and negativity to have an affect on your teaching.
It’s not just TA’s who can benefit from these tips for teaching assistants. There are three common mistakes new teachers make and applying just a few of these tips will help them to avoid them. If being a teaching assistant is of interest to you, read our blog on how to become a TA.