A KS1 numeracy lesson. Molly is struggling and needs to go through the success criteria again. Charlie is starting to look a bit grumpy and you know if you don’t get to him in the next few minutes there could be trouble on the yellow table. Harry has finished all his work and is currently trying to do Katie’s for her. On top of this there is a whole table that you haven’t checked on yet and you’re quite certain that the noise level has surpassed that of a Dalek invasion.
Enter your companion. She’s smart, she’s quick-witted and together you can take on the universe. You toss your TA a sonic green pen. ‘Independent learning group’ you cry but she’s already there, checking work, answering questions and recording progress on feedback sheets. Calm restored you have the time and focus to draw an extension bubble for Harry and cheer up Charlie before disaster strikes.
Far from science-fiction this is the classroom reality for teachers who value their TAs. Furthermore it’s really easy to achieve. So without further ado, here are the ways in which teachers in my school made me feel like the Amelia Pond of teaching.
The best teachers to work with are the ones that give clear direction. Try to make sure you can spend some time with your TA each morning. Go through lesson plans and print a copy of the schedule for the week for the classroom . This will allow your TA to support your leadership and assist with learning. Trust me, there is nothing worse than spending two hours with only a Pritt-Stick for company. TAs want to work with pupils, not glue!
Also use your time with your TA to get feedback on your lessons. Were the children engaged? What were the children discussing with their partners? Was the time on the carpet too long or too short? These are all things your TA will notice and this information will make you a better teacher.
Another great way to make your TA feel valued is to give them as many opportunities as possible for professional development. Find out if there are areas of teaching that interest your TA and see if there are courses that could allow them to develop new skills. I’ve really appreciated the chance to attend phase and staff meetings. They’ve helped me to get to know teachers in the school that I do not work with on a daily basis, as well as share ideas and good practice.
Of course, not every teacher is lucky enough to have a TA but if you do make sure he or she feels like they’re your companion, not your PA. Being a teacher can feel lonely on the difficult days; it’s great to feel like you’ve got a friend in the classroom rather than a human stapler.