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Getting the Most From Your Teaching Assistant

09/12/14

Sometimes having another adult in the room can put you off as Jessica explains in her latest blog. They can also be a great resources!

When I was a student teacher, the most stressful part of my practicum was having to teach in front of another adult. I know that I’m a good teacher, and I know that I can relate well to kids. But I’ve always had a bit of social anxiety. So when you put another adult in the classroom, my whole lesson falls apart. I feel like I’m being watched, or judged. That’s the great thing about teaching primary school: the kids don’t judge you! They want you to make silly voices when you read, and they usually don’t notice if you miss a bit of your lesson.

Kids are forgiving. You can trip over your words, and they’ll laugh it off with you. If you go off their usual routine, they’ll politely correct you and get on with their day! Unfortunately, not all adults are like this. Having another adult in the classroom can sometimes feel like a lot of pressure. Being corrected by a teaching assistant is never a good feeling. It usually feels like you’re being undermined, even if they’re just trying to help. If you’re like me, and the idea of reading about Horrid Henry’s “poopypants” brother in front of another adult makes you cringe, I have some advice for you: GET OVER IT!

You’re a wonderful teacher! It doesn’t matter whether or not the teaching assistants or learning support assistants in the classroom approve of your teaching style. You have worked hard and trained for this and you know what is best for your students, even if it’s just for the day. Don’t let a disapproving teaching assistants.

In fact, you should embrace the support in your classroom! Having an extra set of eyes or hands makes it a lot easier for you to ensure that every student is getting the type of support they need. On top of that, teaching assistants will be able to help you in situations you might not know how to handle, like if a particular student has an outburst, or you can’t find the supplies for the lesson.

Teaching assistants are with their classes every day, and they know just what to do. Sure, some teaching assistants will try to tell you what to do or how to do it, but you can’t let those few people ruin your outlook on the profession. Just set clear goals and boundaries, and let it be known that it’s okay to make some minor changes to routine for the day. It’s good to adopt the school’s classroom management strategies, but it’s also good to bring your own strategies to the table.

Who knows, you just might leave a lasting impression on a teaching assistant and find yourself being invited back to that school more often!

Do you have a comment to make on your relationship with your teaching assistant? Or if you are a teaching assistant, a comment to make on your relationship with your teacher? Email Megan (mparsons@protocol-education.com) for more information on how you can share. 

We have recently launched a white-paper on decision-making in the Primary Teacher/Teaching Assistant relationship. Find out more and download your copy here

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