Monday, 25 November 2013

Teacher Stephen says teaching assistants "complete small miracles every day"

Teaching assistants. I've known many. 

There wass the Liverpudlian woman who came in especially to coach students in the accent for Blood Brothers. This was in her own time. 

The one who identified the difficulties one boy in my English class was having, difficulties I hadn't noticed because he was so articulate and lovely and would never have told me out of shyness. 

Most recently the wonderful TA who coached an 18 year-old with Aspergers through his A levels ( including Drama ) and is still in contact with his family now he's at university living independently in ways we'd never expected could happen. 

Some children at secondary level relate so much better to a TA, perhaps because they get the consistency of a "parental figure" which it is hard to replicate when as a 11,12,13 year-old you are going from lesson to lesson, struggling with the tasks but also with your peers and simply growing up. 

I see students every day engaging with TAs in a much more meaningful way because they are getting one-to-one attention, attention that cannot be given so easily by the teacher when there are 32 in a class. 

I have welcomed at least three ex students back as TAs who have gone onto train to be teachers. In fact it has seemed that the only way to get on some PGCE courses is to have had experience as a TA. Where does that leave future teachers in terms of recruitment onto courses if they have been denied that opportunity? 

Every day I watch in wonder as TAs do a low paid job with the same commitment as teachers. Fair enough they don't have to plan lessons, write reports, mark work or be accountable for exam results, but they do complete small miracles every day with some students who would be lost without them - as would many teaching staff.

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