How to be a great teaching assistant!

24/03/2023 | All

Did you know that as a teaching assistant, you will make up almost 30% of the UK’s school workforce? It’s a role that provides a significant amount of support to teachers and students of all kinds. Every student learns at different speeds and all have different learning abilities. As a TA, your role is to adapt to each student to provide them with the best advantages in their learning journey.

So, how can you maximise your impact in the classroom? We have put together our top 10 tips on how to be a great teaching assistant!

1. Understanding individual needs

Any great teaching assistant knows that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to students that need support. As a TA, you will often find yourself supporting children with complex needs who will all engage with different learning techniques. Being able to recognise this and be flexible in your approach is important to getting the best results from the children you work with.

2. Be creative and innovative

Being creative and innovative in your approach is key to holding your students attention. New and innovative ideas are welcome in schools because they can heighten the delivery of curriculum content and motivate students in their learning journey. Do not be afraid to suggest and experiment with new ideas as teachers most definitely appreciate additional input and fresh content!

3. Be a great communicator

A great teaching assistant must have excellent communication skills! This doesn’t just involve students – TAs need to communicate effectively with the class teacher, other TAs, school staff and parents. For example, communicating with the class teacher before lesson time is really important. Find out what the learning objectives are and how the students will be assessed. This will provide you with a great basis to model your support around.

4. Be flexible

Great teaching assistants need to be flexible. There are countless situations in which you may need to adapt quickly – from a last minute change in lesson location to a sudden change in class teacher. When something changes unexpectedly you need to demonstrate flexibility in order to help teachers to manage any changes. Being ready to change your approach at any point in time is important.

5. Having a positive attitude

Having a positive attitude is essential to being a great teaching assistant. This means being able to see the good in every situation and seeing the ‘silver lining in every cloud’. A great TA knows that every day is a new opportunity to make a difference in the lives of their students. It’s also important to note that students (particularly children) pick up on everything. The more positive your attitude, the more positive their own is likely to be. Having a bad day or a negative attitude is likely to have the opposite effect!

6. Being prepared

Planning and preparing for each lesson and session in advance where possible is key. Each student has their own unique learning style and a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach likely won’t work across the board. It’s important to plan and prepare for each session based on the children you will be working with. A key part of this is ensuring you are familiar with your individual students’ learning styles. You may support one child that is a visual learner whereas another learns best through audio or practical methods. Adapting your planning and prep to suit the individual needs of your students is a great way of ensuring success in lesson time.

7. A true passion for teaching

Another standout trait of a great teaching assistant is their undeniable passion for teaching and their role. A great TA shows their passion for what they do by being excited to come into work every day and make a difference in the lives of their students. Think back to your own education – most of us have at least one teacher or TA that springs to mind who made a difference to your life. Nine times out of ten this is owing to their true passion!

8. Be a role model

Set yourself up as a positive influence on the students that you are supporting. Being a calm, positive and helpful TA is vital to allowing them to see you as an approachable person. Be someone they can open up to. Finding the right balance here is crucial – be assertive enough that students respect you but personable enough that they feel comfortable talking to you. Above all, set a positive example through your actions and behaviour.

9. Have great subject knowledge

It is quite obvious that to be a teaching assistant, you need a good level of subject knowledge. However, to be a great teaching assistant, it is important that you go above and beyond. It can enhance your students’ learning experiences by extending their understanding beyond classroom teaching. Why not attend some online webinars or see if any refresher courses are available?

10. Be engaged

Engaging with students is so important. You are one of the closest people to the students you work with and are on the front line, in regular contact with them. You need to learn and understand their personalities. What do they find particularly difficult? What annoys them? What makes them happy? The more engaged you become, the quicker you will notice issues and the better support you will be able to give.

How can i-teachers help you to become a Teaching Assistant?

At i-teachers, we specialise in placing talented graduates in Graduate Teaching Assistant roles in a wide variety of subjects areas. We work with a wide range of Primary, Secondary and SEN specialist schools across the UK to provide you the perfect role in the perfect environment!

i-teachers Step into Teaching programme

At i-teachers, we aim to support you and allow you to explore teaching roles with our ‘Step into Teaching’ programme to support all graduate roles in education. Our experienced education consultants will place you in a paid teaching assistant position that is perfectly suited to your skill set, in a school that suits your personality. We believe that practical experience is invaluable and learning from teaching experts is key. On your ‘step into teaching’ programme you will get to experience the life of a teacher or teaching assistant, and truly impact the lives of pupils, whilst in a fully supportive environment. It is fantastic work experience both for your own personal development as well as for your CV, and you can earn whilst you learn!

Take a look at some of our current Graduate Teaching Assistant roles now, or contact us for more information!