“Behind every good teacher is a great teaching assistant!”
Teaching assistants and additional adults in the classroom are worth their weight in gold. Ever since I was an NQT, I have always had the most dynamic classroom assistants. They have always been proactive, creative and diligent at what they do.
My first teaching assistant (who I still keep in regular contact with), was such an asset to the classroom. In fact, I couldn’t have done my job without her. We had such a range of abilities in our classroom due to the fact that we were teaching multiple year groups, so she used to take a group of them every day and do the teaching with them. She was a brilliant artist and was often tasked with creating the school play backdrops, displays and a range of other things. She was fantastic – there is no other way to put it, you gave her an idea and she ran with it – making your idea more incredible than you could have ever imagined.
As I moved through my different schools, I continued to meet more teaching assistants who helped the school run smoothly and efficiently. Without teaching assistants, schools would fail and I do mean….fail.
Think about all the things that teaching assistants do in your school. It is often them who know more about the children than the class teacher – they are the ones who form ‘relationships’ with individual children and who the pupils begin to trust more than anyone else in the school. They are in a position which makes them able to form this bond.
Not many people know, but before I became a teacher, I was a teaching assistant in an EBD school for boys. It was a school where we had key pads on all the doors, where the police were probably called at least once a day. It was definitely challenging, to say the least, but I absolutely loved every moment of it. It was my years there, that inspired me to become a teacher. Yes, the boys I worked with were hard work – most of them towering above me at 13 or 14 years old, but I got to know them, their backgrounds, their history, what made them frustrated, what made them smile…..I got to know them for who they were. But, it was those moments when you could ‘grab’ them – have their full attention and see their eyes light up when they were excited about what they were learning that made the job so fulfilling. Behaviour was the biggest challenge – so moments like this were memorable and what finally made me determined to teach. Being in the role of teaching assistant granted me a certain trust and camaraderie that teachers just were not privy to.
It is the teaching assistants who give children the additional input that they need when they aren’t understanding certain concepts – thinking on their feet, often creating resources when there weren’t any to begin with and engaging the children in a new and exciting way to try to teach them concepts they struggle with. They are the ones who usually make our schools look as colourful and welcoming as they do – creating dazzling displays and creating order from what can be chaos!
The role of teaching assistant has changed over the years and the amount of effort and work that they put in should be highly commended. They should be valued and given the support and training needed in their complex and ever changing roles.
Unfortunately, not all schools value their teaching assistants in the way that they should be. Their voices should be heard as loudly as everyone else – their voice is often the one we should be listening to a little bit more closely, as they are usually the ones who have the inside information that is often so desperately needed.
Without teaching assistants schools could not offer the services that they do. Without teaching assistants schools would not cope and education would suffer as a result……they are a crucial aspect to a child’s learning journey.
How do you show your teaching assistants how much they are valued in your school?