Rachel - Teaching Assistant
What was the reason you chose to take a Teaching Assistant course?
I already worked as a tutor for Explore Learning and have been responsible for working with children remotely during the pandemic. However, I soon realised how different it was to working with children face-to-face and made me realise that was the route I’d like to go down.
The reason I started working within education in the first place was to focus and help the individual students (which I was able to do with my 1:1 children I tutored, but only seeing them for an hr a week wasn’t fulfilling that for me). When I was at school, I was incredibly shy and as I entered my teenage years started to struggle with my mental health; I wish I’d had someone there who had helped me and just asked me how I was rather than constantly worrying about homework and the level of my work.
I do have a passion for education and love watching children of all age ranges achieve and progress at their own rates as I believe it gives them more chances and freedom as they enter into adulthood, but I also want children to enjoy coming into school and knowing they’re fully supported in that setting.
What were you doing before the course?
Before I joined the course, I was working in a dead-end job with no progression and no real enjoyment. I felt like I was at a crossroads, and I wanted to do something that allowed me to take more away from it than a pay packet each month.
Once I started my tutoring job, I knew that working with children was what I wanted to do, and therefore started researching different ways to get myself working in a classroom.
Why did you choose The Training Room?
I chose The Training Room after reading other successful reviews on their website and seeing how much others enjoyed the course. I knew I needed qualifications in order to become a Teaching Assistant, but I wanted to enjoy and be genuinely interested in the content (which this course promised and, ultimately, delivered). I heard about The Training Room when searching for courses or potential teaching assistant-style jobs/volunteer opportunities.
What did you enjoy about your course?
My absolute favourite thing about the course was the work experience. Not only did I enjoy my time at the school (where I’ve now received a 1-year contract!), I really appreciated the level of support given to me by my own tutor.
With COVID and the lockdowns, I was very anxious at times about being able to complete my work experience and all the additional written elements by my deadline, but she reassured me that I would be able to get it all done and providing certain extensions when needed.
Were you able to fit your course around other commitments/your lifestyle?
Yes! With my tutoring, I work after-school hours so the course fit in perfectly with my current role as I could complete it during the day before I started work.
Furthermore, when completing my work experience, I would volunteer until lunchtime, come home to do some coursework then start tutoring in the evening. It was tiring, but it was definitely worthwhile and I’m glad I did it in that way!
Was your tutor helpful?
I felt 100% supported by my tutor! As a tutor with multiple clients myself, I appreciate how much work goes into supporting individuals of varying levels and abilities and I felt Megan did a brilliant job! I’m a learner with a million different questions and she was so patient and forthcoming with her information.
Whenever I had questions from the school and/or class teacher within my work experience, she offered suggestions that were appropriate and achievable despite the COVID restrictions. I cannot recommend having a 1:1 tutor on this course highly enough!
What's the biggest challenge you encountered on your course?
The biggest challenge I encountered on the course was balancing deadlines with everything else I was doing, plus, I’m not the best when it comes to time management anyway. I can over-think and stress myself out over deadlines/timings if I believe it’s unlikely that I will fulfil them.
Luckily, my tutor was brilliant with this and assured me I could be given short extensions if I ever needed it – even just hearing that there was a resolution to my anxiety made me relax!
What was the most memorable aspect of your course?
The most memorable aspect of my course was my work experience. As a result of the COVID situation towards the end of last year and my anxiety, I was incredibly nervous to start my work experience. I think the class teachers I worked with have been able to notice the difference in my confidence from when I started compared to when I finished!
It is very overwhelming entering an environment as a student with no past experience and I did feel like I needed to prove myself to the children and other members of staff that I deserved to be there; however, as time went on, I really did develop my practice and ‘found my footing’ in how I support teaching.
If you’re nervous for your work experience, that’s completely normal, but you will develop and grow so much within that period of time, professionally and personally. You will also learn so much by watching the other members of teaching staff and seeing what works well/not so well with the children.
How have you used your qualification?
I have since been able to list my qualification on my CV which immediately made me more employable and led to me being offered a job as a KS1 Teaching Assistant.
As well as this, being able to prove I’ve completed just under 4 months of work experience in a Year 1 setting will prove to future employers that I am capable and dedicated to my practice.
Did you utilise the career support team?
I utilised the career support team throughout my course, particularly when I was having problems sourcing a work placement as a result of COVID restrictions. They provided me with a list of schools in the local area (some I didn’t even know of!) and helped me construct an email stating my purpose for needing to complete work experience as well as offering suggestions of how I could maintain the restrictions applicable to the time.
The team also helped me edit and alter my CV in a way that would make me appear more employable and show off my assets in a clear and concise manner. This has since proved successful!
Tell me about your career since graduating from The Training Room - what have you done and what does your future look like?
I’ve been offered a job at the school I completed my work experience in - it’s only a 1-year contract, but I’m confident it will act as a steppingstone to a longer career, either within the same setting or a different one.
I hope my future consists of working 1:1 with children who live with learning disabilities/mental health problems in a mainstream school to ensure they’re allowed the same opportunities as their able-bodied peers.
Have you completed any other training since graduating with us?
Yes! I have started the Understanding Autism course with The Training Room so I can develop my knowledge and desire to work specifically with children who live with learning difficulties or mental health problems.
Having completed the course, what advice would you give people who are considering it themselves?
By working hard now and getting your qualification, you will be able to really enjoy and relish what supporting teaching and learning really is in future. It may seem daunting starting this course and thinking about the eventual end goal, but it will offer you so many opportunities and allow you to develop professionally and personally.
Being able to impact a child’s life for the better and allow them more choices in their future is the most rewarding thing, and I’m so grateful that is something I am now able to do every day.
What benefits do you see to other students who are thinking of taking a course with us?
As well as gaining a recognised qualification, your confidence will increase significantly following this course! The course is broken into multiple different units so, although it may seem overwhelming at first, it can be completed in bite-size chunks which I found much less daunting!
You will be supported during work experience, and clear communication is provided throughout between yourself and your tutor to ensure you’re coping with the course and are progressing well. Career support is offered for 3 years following course enrolment so even if you can’t find a job straight away, you will be assisted in that area.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
This course really made me realise how much I wanted to work as a Teaching Assistant, from the written coursework to the physical work experience! It kept me motivated throughout to reach that end goal and work to the best of my ability at all times which not only enabled me to pass the course, but also improved my mental health and overall anxiety around going forward for a new job.