The number of teaching assistants in classrooms has trebled in the last decade
The recent increase in job openings for teaching assistants has sparked the age-old debate: can teaching assistants make a real difference in the classroom? You can get the answer to this question in many ways. First, people can look at the numbers. Schools are spending increased sums year on year for the salaries of teaching assistants and other support staff. It’s reasonable to assume that they wouldn’t be spending this much money if they’re not getting something out of it.
Teachers Address the Debate: Can Teaching Assistants Make a Real Difference in the Classroom?
This brings the discussion to the second way of answering the question “can teaching assistants make a real difference in the classroom?” Many teachers would answer that question with a “yes.” According to many teachers, teaching assistants are helping make a difference for pupils inside the classroom. Some of the things that teaching assistants (TAs ) are able to achieve include:
- They help reduce the stress low-attaining pupils often experience inside the classroom. That’s because TAs focus often their undivided attention on these pupils, thereby helping them cope better with the lessons.
- TAs help reduce the workload for teachers.
How Schools are Responding to Ensure a ‘YES’ answer to the Debate: Can Teaching Assistants make a Real Difference in the Classroom?
Despite these proven positive effects of having TAs, some people still find themselves asking, “can teaching assistants make a real difference in the classroom?” Many schools have started to employ the following strategies to dispel all the doubts:
- Prepare the teaching assistants for deployment. The schools can do this by giving teachers and teaching assistants enough time to liaise prior to the start of the class. This move helps to ensure that teaching assistants do not go blindly into the classroom.
- They need to know what lessons will be taught for the day, what tasks the pupils are expected to perform, and so on. The teaching assistants will also receive briefing on what skills the low-attaining pupils should develop at the end of the lesson.
- Professionalise the teaching assistants role in the classroom. Schools are starting to create a clearer definition of what they expect the teaching assistants to contribute in the classroom.
More schools are also focusing on the way that teaching assistants interact with the students
Some research has shown that one hindrance to learning is the tendency of teaching assistants to spoon-feed their pupils. Schools address this issue by training teaching assistants to hold their nerves in the face of a student’s obstinacy.
Another reason for spoon-feeding is the fact that the teaching assistant may have grown attached to the pupil. This compels the TA to give too much help to the pupil, especially during class recitations in a bid to end the pupil’s suffering.
Teaching assistants are encouraged to give the pupils enough time to think for themselves and to find the answers on their own. Teaching assistants who are already well-trained in these strategies definitely have better chances of getting employed in the school of their choice.
Become an effective teaching assistant
You should find it easier to obtain an interview and indeed get a job if you either have a qualification, or are currently undertaking an accredited teaching assistant course. On the other hand, if you are already enjoying the job of teaching assistant, accredited training can help you become more effective and secure in your role.
How do you think TAs make a difference?
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