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5 Ways to be an effective TA

About 12 months ago By Zuzana Vrtalova

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​I don’t know how to narrow this down to just five as I think the list could be endless. But here’s a definite 5 that would feature in my top 20!

1 Be positive

Teachers are under so much pressure so pick them up when they start feeling stressed. Remind them how hard their job is and how brilliant they are at it.

2 Prevention is the best cure

Get to know the children. The better you know them the more chance you have of predicting their behaviour. If you can do this you can prevent lots of disruption. Distraction usually works well. If you can see a child getting agitated give them a job. Better to take them out the class for 5 minutes than to risk them ruining the whole lesson. Send them on an errand and when they come back they’ve forgotten they were getting annoyed.

3 Be a role model

Set the children a great example and encourage positive behaviour. Get their respect by being calm and assertive. Don’t try and be their friend but be an approachable person for them to come to with any worries. Reassure them when they are anxious.

4 Do the tedious stuff

Assist the teacher – be exactly what it says on the tin. Do everything you can to assist. Photocopying, laminating, library book monitoring, hanging coats up, putting posters up, handing out letters, collecting books in, sharpen pencils and most importantly – make good cups of tea!

5 Teach friendship

We all do duties in the playground and tears from squabbles are common. It’s amazing how quickly best friends one minute can become enemies the next. I see myself as the UN at times. There is nothing more rewarding than helping a friendship. I try to teach children how to resolve disagreements quickly. Listen to both parties and encourage them to think about how the other person is feeling. Then analyse if their actions were positive or not. Remind them that they are good friends usually and ask if they want that to carry on. They always say yes and after remembering that the original problem gets much smaller.

My favourite question to them both (after listening to long drawn out descriptions about a game that someone wasn’t allowed to play or wasn’t playing right) is something like:

I’ve seen that you are good friends because you play really nicely most of the time. There’s about 10 more minutes of play time. Do you want to spend another five of those minutes talking to me about what just happened? Or do you want to enjoy all ten minutes of it playing nicely?”

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