Teaching assistants are the backbone of any classroom. They help the teacher by making sure each and every student has the support they need for their lessons.
We all learn at different levels and speeds and some children need a little extra help with reading, writing, or numeracy skills. As the classroom TA, you’ll be on hand to guide them through the lesson with any extra help that child needs.
There are different types of teaching assistants, and your role will vary depending on whether you want to help in a primary school classroom, secondary school or specialise in helping children with learning disabilities. But if your dream is to work with children and become a teaching assistant, follow these essentials to become the best TA that you can be!
Being a good teaching assistant will require you to go above and beyond the job role to help in the classroom. This includes helping to set up the classroom for the day ahead, creating any learning aids needed by the teacher, thinking up fun activities for the children to do that supports the lesson topics and continually observing the students during the day to ensure that everyone is learning and having a good time.
Using your initiative is rated very highly by teachers as they will have their hands full with lesson planning, marking homework and other important duties. Your help and input will allow them to focus on teaching the class and they’ll be able to relax knowing that you are on-the-ball and offering any help that’s needed throughout the day.
Being flexible is another key trait of a good teaching assistant. Having the ability to adapt your time to meet the everyday needs of the teacher will ensure that lessons are carried out to plan and that pupils get the best learning tools and environment for their success. Being flexible may mean starting slightly earlier in the day, staying a little late or helping out by making some fun visual aids at home (you can even get your kids to help out if you have a young family of your own!)
Be a friendly face
When working as a TA, being able to build good relationships is essential as you’ll be talking to pupils, staff and parents too. Having the ability to communicate clearly and build a trusting relationship with the students you are supporting will help you develop their educational needs and allow their parents to feel confident that their child’s development is in safe hands.
Understand their needs
Having a keen understanding of what each student needs in order to continue to learn successfully in the classroom is a vital part of being a good teaching assistant. As you gain experience in working in a classroom environment, you’ll develop a clear and thorough understanding of learning and development needs for each of the students you are taking care of.
Some students may only require a little help, while others may need additional lessons to help them catch up; as the TA you’ll be able to work alongside the class teacher to plan out the time you’ll dedicate to each student and the extra support needed to get everyone learning effectively.
Passion and energy
Working with children is a rewarding and fulfilling career, however it will sometimes come with its challenges too. Your duties will vary from day to day and of course no classroom is complete without the occasional temper tantrum, so having a passion for working with children and helping to develop the mindset of the future generation can really help when things get a little tough. A positive, can-do attitude will also teach the students a valuable life lesson and help to develop their own outlook on life too.
You’ll be the first to offer any additional help to the teacher or students by taking on little tasks, such as holding a lunch time reading class, assisting during field trips, running errands for the teacher, sorting out the tables and chairs to keep the classroom tidy and offering to help with the teacher’s schedule. Not only will you gain more experience by offering this help, you’ll be helping the teacher by freeing up some of their valuable time (which they will be incredibly grateful for!)
If you plan on moving up the career ladder and becoming a classroom teacher yourself in the future, having such a hands-on approach will really give you an insight into the world of education and more of an understanding into the everyday life of a classroom teacher. You’ll also be able to call on these skills and experiences in the future to demonstrate just how passionate, dedicated and enthusiastic you are about having a successful career in the classroom.
Ready to start your journey to become a teaching assistant?
[Learn more about our teaching assistant course here]