What is the Role of a Teaching Assistant?
What does a Teaching Assistant (TA) do? there are many variations to this role making this not a straight forward question to answer. There are class teaching assistants, Special Educational Needs (SEN) teaching assistants, specialist subject teaching assistants, Higher Level teaching assistants (HLTA’s) to name a few. The job role will differ from school to school as TA’s are present in schools from Early Years classrooms through to senior and upper schools, making the role of a TA an extremely diverse and varied one.
“The term ‘teaching assistant’ (TA) is the government’s preferred generic term of reference for all of those in paid employment in support of teachers in primary, special and secondary schools. That includes those with a general role and others with specific responsibilities for a child, subject, area or group”
(R Tyler et al, 2004, p9)
Predominately the TA is based in a classroom supporting the teacher, setting up resources, carrying out administrative duties, assisting in classroom behaviour management and supporting children during the delivery of the lesson plan. Theorist Lev Vygotsky believed within his Cognitive Development Theory a way of learning can occur when using a more knowledgeable other. This is an example of this with the Teacher introducing the lesson plan material and passing on the knowledge to the children and other adults within the classroom. Thereafter the TA will be working with a child or group of children following the plan delivered by the teacher and providing vital support to allow the children to extend or be assisted with their learning. The Teacher and TA will be actively working in conjunction with each other using strategies and differentiation methods to enable the child/children to access as much of the curriculum as possible and to enable the children to learn effectively.
“Increasingly, teachers and support staff have interchangeable classroom roles, and it is difficult to detect who has which! Although teachers are charged with implementing an exacting national curriculum, teaching assistants (TAs) assume responsibility for helping pupil’s access informal and formal learning. The roles of educators are equally important and must merge collaboratively if pupils are to achieve potential”
“Differentiation is adopting strategies that ensure success in learning for all, by
accommodating individual differences of any kind”
(Petty, 2004, p541)
To conclude, once the lesson has finished, the TA will provide feedback to the Teacher as to how and what the children learnt, if there were any areas of difficultly or if extension or different strategies were used to help the child learn, if the work was supported by the TA or if their work was independent. Having assessed the children’s work and passed on the relevant information, (this can be passed on verbally or by annotating the planning and by marking the children’s work) the teacher...