Sophie gives her reflection on white paper for Decision-Making in the Primary Teacher/Teaching Assistant Relationship
To begin with I think it is really difficult for a supply teacher as there are many different roles a Teaching Assistant can play and in every school it is different; so when you get there as a supply it is hard to know just how much the teaching assistant does. I feel on the supply register that it is important to have a conversation about their role and how they will be supporting the children that day. The teaching assistants have always been so helpful to me on my supply experience because they are the ones that know the procedures and will really help you and it is important you start a good relationship in order for the day to run smoothly.
I always involve the teaching assistant with the decision making throughout the day. For one reason it helps them understand where they need to be or what we are covering. This will help them provide strategies to support the children. It also gives them a chance to tell you if what you are doing is not correct for the way the school teach particular subjects. It is interesting how during my experience there seems to be less and less support in the classroom. I have often seen teaching assistants supporting children outside of the classroom in order to close their gaps of their knowledge which means it is difficult anyway for them to be involved in decision making processes.
However, I do believe that teaching assistants need to be involved with assessment; if a child is below average they will be working with lots of adults outside the classroom to close this gap. This means that you need to have contact with the other adults in order to be constantly informed and update their assessment. However, it does come down to the teacher to be in charge of the data and progression of all children. I feel that the teacher can take advice and thoughts from the teaching assistant but it is their role to write the assessment and come up with curriculum targets.
I think it is important for teaching assistant’s to use their initiative sometimes as some children may be really struggling with the lesson and if the teaching assistant realises that it is pitched to high then they must have that ability to direct the group work to the children’s ability. Sometimes the teacher does not have time to thoroughly work with all groups so it is great for a TA to work together with their group and change the lesson accordingly. I really appreciate it when a TA does this because it helps the children and it means the lesson is not wasted. I think it is great for the teaching assistants to share ideas for what we are going to be learning because they came into their role for the same reasons as teachers do because we want to help young children learn. It is good to get another perspective sometimes and the teaching assistants know the children just as well as the teacher.
For the future I do believe that teachers and teaching assistants should receive the same training as teaching assistants are also going to be working with the children in their role and supporting progression. I believe that the teacher is the main decision maker but this also means that they need to get to their decision by listening to others and allowing the teaching assistant to show their views.
You can download our white paper here.