How teaching assistants can help with lesson planning

2020-04-15

Teaching assistants are a valuable asset in any classroom, as they can support teachers in the delivery of top quality education.


Not only can they enhance access to the curriculum for pupils, especially for those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), but teaching assistants also have a key role to play when it comes to promoting inclusion.


To maximise the potential impact of a teaching assistant, communication between them and teachers is vital – from managing classroom behaviour to developing lesson plans so that all pupils can benefit.


Developing good working relationships is key to this so that a teaching assistant can understand the teacher’s style of teaching and their classroom techniques.


Utilising the knowledge of teaching assistants

Ideally, teachers should incorporate a teaching assistant into all of their lesson planning and should not simply view them as an add-on to the classroom setting.


A teaching assistant will often be aware of issues that a pupil might be facing and should be across their progress too, meaning that they are best placed to liaise with teachers when it comes to planning how to help pupils reach their learning goals.


Even if a teacher does not have the opportunity to sit down and discuss lesson plans in great detail, they should still ensure that a teaching assistant has prior access to the resources so they are aware of what to expect.


The importance of feedback

Both teachers and a teaching assistant should have feedback sessions as regularly as possible to discuss the things that pupils do and do not understand.


Their observations on pupil performance can be used to shape future lesson planning as tough topics can be revisited to maximise pupil understanding.


Such feedback could be in note format at the end of the lesson or as part of a more formal weekly catch up, if time allows – either way, it provides the teaching assistant with a chance to highlight topics and subjects that need attention.


Sharing and supplementing teaching

Teachers can also instruct teaching assistants to provide support across the classroom – rather than just to an assigned child – to ensure that all pupils can develop their conceptual understanding.


This could involve group work whereby the teacher works with one group while a teaching assistant works with another, giving the teacher a chance to work with pupils who might be struggling.


With effective lesson planning, the teacher and teaching assistant can swap groups throughout the lesson or week so that all pupils can benefit.


By empowering teaching assistants, teachers can create a healthier and more engaging learning environment, which is better for both staff and pupils.


The Education Endowment Foundation also has guidance for primary and secondary schools on Making Best Use of Teaching Assistants.


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