10 tips for new Teaching Assistants
For those looking for a career pathway into teaching, a teaching assistant role can provide an abundance of useful classroom experience.
But with nerves and new surroundings, settling into a new school or job can present its challenges, although that shouldn’t put you off from what can be a highly rewarding and highly enjoyable role.
If you’re just starting out as a teaching assistant, we have just the tips to help you on your way, from guidance on lesson plans and behaviour, to knowing who to ask for assistance.
1. Passion can inspire
Your body language and approach to tasks will ultimately rub off on the pupils around you, so any teaching assistant should be as passionate as possible about the tasks that are set in order to inspire those they help.
If you’ve spoken to the teacher beforehand about lesson plans, it can be a lot easier to be enthusiastic if you know what is coming up.
2. Remember to smile!
In order to make the most of a teaching assistant role, you should be as welcoming and as approachable as possible.
Constantly having a smile on your face, even if you’re not in the best of moods, can help to break down barriers with pupils and make them more likely to feel they can approach you for assistance.
3. Get to know the pupils quickly
Building relationships with pupils is a vital part of being a teaching assistant, as it is hugely influential on your ability to carry out the role effectively and to show that you are invested in their learning.
This includes learning their names, which allows you to communicate more effectively, alongside any specific details that may impact on their ability to learn from relevant education, health and care (EHC) plans.
4. Be proactive!
Teaching assistants are there to provide support to teachers in order to minimise disruption if issues occur – you should be proactive in such situations, as you have a pivotal role to play in keeping the class on track.
5. Encourage pupils to question work
By encouraging pupils to be inquisitive, a teaching assistant can help to enhance their understanding of the work in front of them.
When working in smaller groups or on a one-to-one basis, this can be particularly useful as it can encourage pupils to speak out who may otherwise choose not to.
6. Don’t expect to know everything
As a teaching assistant, you could easily end up helping with subject matter that you are not too familiar with – but it shouldn’t be a reason to panic.
You’ll still know more than the pupils in the classroom, so you should still be able to think of ways to take critical approaches to the topics – again, talking through lesson plans in advance with the teacher can make this process a great deal easier.
7. Look for help!
From speaking to teachers and other teaching assistants, to doing your own research online, there are a number of people and avenues that you can explore for help.
More experienced staff may know of approaches you can use to tackle certain behavioural issues or other types of disruption – all you need to do is ask!
8. Flexibility is key
As teaching assistants work with an array of different school staff, all of whom will have different approaches, flexibility becomes an essential part of the role.
You should be ready to adapt, not only to new teaching styles, but to numerous different learning styles too.
9. Don’t be afraid to speak out
Communication between teaching assistants and teachers is pivotal to ensuring that both individuals are able to work to their maximum potential.
Clear instructions and feedback should enable teachers to understand your way of working, which is beneficial to both them and the pupils your support.
10. Always think about how you can make a difference
Being a teaching assistant gives you a unique means of supporting pupils to achieve their full potential and to enjoy their time in the classroom.
Consider how the tasks you are doing can make a difference to the pupils you support, as this should enable both you and them to get the most out of each learning situation.
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