The formula high impact teaching assistants use every day can be simplified into 6 key categories. It’s so noticeable when teaching assistants are making an impact on teaching and learning, or struggling to be purposeful in the classroom. Yet, sometimes teaching assistants don’t realise that there is a blueprint, that there are clear systems and strategies they can use to enhance their role.
It all begins with understanding that their support during teaching and learning activities begins well before the teaching and learning activity itself. Frequently teaching assistants go into supporting lessons blind, with little or no input or discussion about the planning and expectations. Sometimes schools share the planning with their TAs electronically, however, any teacher who has ever covered a lesson for another teacher will understand just how difficult other people’s plans can be to interpret!
High impact teaching assistants understand that their success in the classroom is directly related to the quality of preparation beforehand, in understanding the rationale behind a lesson. The conversations they have with the teacher, their understanding of the purpose of their role, how they will support the children, the language and terminology they will use.
During any whole class teaching, high impact teaching assistants know that this time can be used effectively to support individual learners, as well as take note of the teaching strategies the teacher is using so they can reuse these strategies and key phrases during their support with groups and individual children throughout the lesson.
Fully understanding the purpose of the lesson through this ‘how’ conversation, high impact teaching assistants are able to reduce the chances of over-supporting the children and ensures they feel fully prepared for all eventualities. This also helps them build confidence in their ability as a teaching assistant, that they can enhance the teaching and learning experience no matter what happens.
High impact teaching assistants also understand that the information they gather about the children’s learning during an activity is incredibly value to support the consideration of next steps. They know that every learning activity has the potential to be a break through moment for a child and they are therefore careful to identify challenges, progress, enjoyment and small achievements to discuss with the children and share with the teacher to support further planning.
Ultimately, high impact teaching assistants understand that great TA work is all about thinking of their role as a cycle and sometimes the little things are the most important. Download your checklist for a high impact teaching and learning cycle to share with your TAs.