When used effectively, a teaching assistant can bring about an improvement in a pupil’s reading of between three and six months.
If you are like myself, so used to managing on your own for many years, using a teaching assistant most effectively can be a challenge. A 2015 report from the Education Endowment Fund (EEF) on making best use of Teaching Assistants (TAs) highlights 7 key steps to using TAs and support staff effectively.
Read on if you would like to find out more about using TAs more effectively…
1. TAs should not be used as an informal teaching resource for low-attaining pupil
Firstly, the EEF suggests that many teaching assistants used to work with low-attaining pupils are actually doing very little for advancing or improving outcomes. This is because many of these small groups of one-to-one sessions are informal, not well structured or supported. Findings show that in schools where smaller group work was planned and effectively resourced, children made progress.
2. Ensure TAs are fully prepared for their role in the classroom
All too often, TAs are directed on the day or at the start of a lesson to work with a small group of children or young people; they are often not briefed about the outcome of the lesson. This is especially common when the TA is used sporadically in the classroom and taken out for other needs.
Research shows that teaching assistants who were fully prepared before each lesson and given time outside of lessons to meet with teaching colleagues and so on, made a far bigger impact on learning outcomes for students.
3. Use TAs to add value to what teachers do, not replace them.
It is common for the teaching assistant to be seen and used as a support mechanism, within a school, that can be moved when required or used as a substitute when there is no teacher available. When teaching assistants and their contribution to the classroom are sacrificed for schools’ such needs, including covering for absent colleagues or working with a difficult class or group, their role in the classroom is ultimately affected and so is pupils’ progress.
4. Use TAs to help pupils develop independent learning skills and manage their own learning
TAs must be aware of the need for children and young people to understand their own learning, how and why they get to the outcomes that they do. Teaching assistants are instrumental in this process, which highlights the importance of a TA being used in a structured and supported way. It also points to the need for TAs to be trained to offer the learning process to students whereby they manage their own learning.
5. Use TAs to deliver high quality one-to-one and small group support using structured interventions
Where there is need, use teaching assistants in planned, structured sessions. This means high quality one-to-one sessions and small groups support too in effective and proven session formats.
6. Adopt evidence-based interventions to support TAs in their small group and one-to-one instruction
Use the both summative and formative data to create needed interventions. The following sessions are thought to be the most effective, backed by the findings of the research projects:
Brief sessions of between 20 and 50 minutes
Regular sessions of three to five times a week
Sustained sessions over a period of eight to 20 weeks
7. It is important that what students learn from teaching assistants complements what they are being taught in the classroom
TAs and teaching colleagues should communicate on a daily basis about the children. The findings of the research project confirm that when there is a structured, daily meetings between the teacher and the teaching assistant, the learning outcomes for all students in the classroom are improved.
All school settings are different and TAs with added training, will help relieve stress in the classroom and aid teaching.
The effective use of a TA requires careful planning and a steady timetable. Teachers and TAs working together as a team will undoubtably empower and unleash all pupils’ potential.
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Comment below, how do you best use your TA?
Till next time…
A shout-out to my assistant Ms. Potts ❤