Do’s and Don’ts for Teaching Assistants at School

From assisting a teacher in class & activities with 4-5 year old reception class to a specialist subject teacher assistant for 11-18 year olds means doing and acting differently with certain age children.

Expectations on teachers and class support assistants are fairly high in relation to following school procedures, instructions and providing pupil’s guidance & support with learning.

Top school teaching assistant do’s and don’ts

School TA’s should do:

  • Be consistent both with expectations & behaviour and help with all pupils in class.
  • Become professional with open communication from the start with class teachers.
  • Stay calm and maintain your composure.
  • Build a good rapport with school students and class teachers.
  • Take the initiative in class not waiting to be instructed by a teacher.
  • Communicate with the teacher before lessons for instructions, expectations and lesson topic.
  • Start and always be firm & fair with school pupils following school policy.
  • Recognise different teachers have different expectations and classes have different needs.
  • Follow class teacher instructions doing what they want you to do.
  • Pass on and discus pupil learning issues & progress with teachers.
  • Know the teacher assistant role and duties according to job description & limitations.
  • Provide class pupils assistance and guidance in lessons when required.
What makes a good teaching assistant
Learn ABC

Don’ts for school teacher assistants:

  • Don’t interrupt the teacher when their talking delivering a lesson in class.
  • Don’t get angry or shout at children in class or at school.
  • Teacher assistants shouldn’t undermine the authority of the school teacher.
  • Don’t inform a child they can skip homework, class test or set work in lessons.
  • Provide pupils guidance & support with lessons & set work and don’t give the answer.
  • Clean up and complete tasks assigned by teachers not leaving a mess or tasks incomplete.
  • Don’t expect school children to treat you the same as a teacher.
  • Don’t be tempted to criticise class teachers or provide suggestions to improve lessons.
  • Don’t promise something to students that you can’t do or against school policy.
9 key school teacher assistant do’s & don’ts

9 key school teacher assistant do’s & don’ts

  1. Be consistent both with expectations & behaviour and help with all pupils in class.

Be always aware and consistent with pupil expectations of behaviour & following school policy. This is very important for effective learning as you’ll be taken seriously by children, health & safety, safeguarding compliance in class lessons & around school.

Class management consistency is key in primary & secondary school learning where TA’s take instructions from the teacher and you don’t contradict or undermine the teacher, especially with discipline. Building a good rapport with pupils helps with maintaining discipline and keeping pupils focused on learning.

2. Become open and professional about open communication from the start with class teachers.

Build an open and approachable communication presence with the class teacher where you receive day to day information on lesson topic & teaching strategies. Here you’ll find out about the teachers expectation, how they manage & teach a class and what they expect from you as a TA in class & school activities.

3. Take the initiative in class not waiting to be instructed by a teacher.

Be proactive and complete obvious and regular tasks without the teacher asking, you’ll be appreciated for effort & willingness.

4. Recognise different teachers have different expectations and classes have different needs.

Each teacher, subject, topic and classroom environment means different expectations of how things are done. All teachers teach differently in the way they use technology, real life examples with props, while others use more theory or role play. Teacher assistants require adapting and being flexible, not just for pupil differences, but requirements of the teacher who is teaching each subject.

5. Provide class pupils assistance and guidance in lessons when required.

Give pupils the space and time to solve problems, and complete set work themselves without interruptions. School students should be allowed to think for themselves and a class TA should only provide guidance when required, walking around the room between students equally to check work is being completed.

6. Follow class teacher instructions doing what they want you to do.

As a teacher assistant in lessons you should know that receiving and following instructions given by teachers is important. Equally pass on any issues with students and discus pupil learning progress with teachers you work with or whom have given set work for you teach go over in small groups or 1:1 intervention sessions.

7. Teacher assistants shouldn’t undermine the authority of the school teacher.

As a TA don’t undermine the authority of the teacher, especially in lessons and in front of pupils. Discipline requires maintaining to ensure good teaching and lessons objectives are completed on time.

8. Don’t inform a child can skip homework, class test of set work in lessons.

School pupils in each class lesson should be encouraged to complete or attempt questions set by teachers, including homework. Don’t say to students you can skip these questions if the teacher has set them. Teacher assistance in class is to support pupil learning and provide additional guidance where required.

9.Don’t interrupt the teacher when their talking delivering a lesson in class

It’s very important that teaching assistant don’t interrupt the teacher when they are explaining and teaching the whole class. Don’t talk and distract school pupils in lessons when a teacher has asked pupils to put their pens and pencils down and listen to the teacher in lessons. Why? It’s very annoying for pupils & the teacher and potentially interrupts learning.

What are the 10 most important skills a TA
Important skills TA

What are the 10 most important skills a TA?

Personal traits and skills of a secondary & primary teacher assistant do require:

  • Good organisation skills.
  • Multi task while being creative and flexible.
  • Want too and enjoy working with different age children and learning requirements.
  • Work under pressure to tight deadlines.
  • Excellent literacy & nurmeracy for primary school or good maths & English skills for secondary school.
  • Good behaviour for learning techniques & strategies to challenge negative behaviour and help keep children focused in lessons.
  • Positive ability to build good working relationships with teachers, school staff and especially pupils.
  • Work as part of a team and follow instructions.
  • Good written & verbal communication skills.
  • Able to manage groups of children in a class learning environment.

What makes a good teaching assistant?

A good and effective school teaching assistant knows the role, has up to date skills & training thus providing assistance to teachers, equally knowing how pupils develop, ask questions and learn. TA’s recognise each school subject and topic is different for individual children in learning difficulty & interest thus adapts & provides encouragement and guidance where needed.

Great teacher assistants get to know school students in each class that require assistance, allowing space & time for children to complete work themselves, although providing support and intervention where required.

Efficient TA’s at primary school work as a team with a class teacher, prepared before entering lessons, and knows what is required of them in class from teacher instructions. They do this by constant verbal & written communication with teachers, staff & school, keeping up to date with the national curriculum, and conducting continued professional development (CPD).

What are the challenges of a teaching assistant?  A good TA recognises work place challenges in their role at school working with children in a class learning environment. You become adaptive & flexible to students, teachers and school needs, learn from mistakes and improve as a school TA to provide children better support & guidance with learning in class lessons.

You may feel unappreciated for the help you provide or the effort and coupled with some stressful days you require copping mechanisms to function efficiently as a school TA.

How do you make a good first impression as a teaching assistant?

Teacher assistants should proactively introduce themselves to a class teacher they’ve been assigned too or the secondary head of department. Know the curriculum, your role as a TA, be knowledgeable, confident, and firm but fair with school students makes a good first impression with students & teachers alike.

TA’s should dress appropriately for the subject, age range of pupils and be presentable at all times. Pupils in lessons should know you’re their too provide support, guidance & assistance, meaning it’s important you as a class assistant are friendly enough and approachable.

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