For a Teaching Assistant the job is all about making a difference, on a daily basis…
The main role of a Teaching Assistant (also known as TA or Classroom Assistant) is to provide support and assistance to a teacher, making sure students are given all the help they need to get the most out of their education.
The key duties of a TA will usually include, although not be limited to, the following:
- Providing support to children with mathematics, reading and writing on an individual, class or small group basis
- Proving one-on-one help to children who require it
- Giving further attention to children with any other special needs or requirements
- Motivating and encouraging pupils
- Supervising students at lunch, on events or trips and for special activities
- Taking care of various admin tasks, including preparing materials for lessons, photocopying, laminating and marking papers
If you couldn’t wait to get out of the classroom when you were younger, this may not be the career path for you…
To be successful in this position, having a passion for working with children is essential, as well as a genuine interest in education. You will also need exceptional communication skills and must be able to motivate pupils who may sometimes be unruly or lack confidence. Other key skills and attributes include:
- A friendly and approachable nature
- Excellent reading, writing, numeracy and listening skills
- Flexibility and versatility
- Ability to build relationships with both staff and students, but also display a good level of discipline when required
- A passion for teaching
The most common career move would be becoming a fully qualified teacher. However, much more training will need to be undertaken, and a relevant degree and PGCE will usually be a pre-requisite
Teaching Assistants may also choose to progress to become a Higher Level Teaching Assistant (HLTA). HLTAs provide extra support to teachers with more hands on teaching tasks, help provide more complex lesson plans and may be trained to take lessons in the teacher's absence.
Finally, a growing number of Teaching Assistants are being recruited to support children with special needs or learning difficulties. Although the necessary skills and qualifications will differ from a more general position (Special Education Needs or SEN training will be needed) the mindset needed is largely the same.
What's it like to be a Teaching Assistant?
I try to do as much as possible to help out whoever is teaching the lesson by assisting with lesson plans and doing any paperwork or admin that I can. But my job is about much more than that. Just being there for the children, and seeing the smile on their faces when I help them solve a tricky maths problem or answer a question, is incredibly rewarding.