In this entry, S.L. Coyne gives us five golden rules to help maximise the benefits of having a TA in the classroom.
As a supply teacher it is very important to make a good impression, do your very best, and get along with everyone. If you are fortunate enough to have a teaching assistant in your class, and many of us do, then it is crucial you are simply excellent!
After working in education for over 25 years, I have found that teaching assistants fall in to two groups; those who have been at the school a very long time and enjoy being a TA. Then there is the other group who believe they can do your job better that you. Nevertheless, both are the ears and eyes of the Head teacher and Senior Management whether willingly or not. If you are in a school for the first time, a TA can make the difference from you being there regularly or never again. Schools are always on the lookout for good teaching staff that can fit in and take over at a moment’s notice; there is after all, trainings and sickness within an academic year.
However, understandably it is very difficult to build up a rapport with someone you have never met before. Yet for those five hours, more or less, you are in the classroom and you need to work as a team or you will lose all control and the learners will be aware of this.
As a supply teacher it is not always possible to have an initial meeting with your TA before class as many of us are called in at a moment’s notice and the class is already there by the time we arrive. However, try to have a five minute power meeting with the TA to gain some understanding of the class you have for the day.
These Five Golden Rules can be applied to the initial meeting and also to longer placements:
1 Respect the TA’s opinions - they have been at the school much longer than you!
2 Listen to what they have to say - actually look at them when talking.
3 Ask what they like to do in the classroom - what do they feel comfortable with?
4 Value their input - if they have ideas put them into practice.
5 Gratitude - show your appreciation at the end of the day by saying Thank You.
It might seem obvious but it is very quickly done when school/college has finished and everyone is running out the door but a simple thank you goes a long way. Furthermore, it is worth noting about your opinions as a supply teacher unless asked for; keep your opinions to yourself also. For example, I once encountered a supply teacher as a Curriculum Manager who told the Head how to run his Department suffice to say, the supply teacher never worked there again!