What makes a good teaching assistant?

07/02/2022 | All

Teaching assistants are often referred to as the ‘backbone of any classroom’ – supporting teachers by making sure students have the dedicated support they need for their lessons. All students learn at different speeds and have different learning abilities – some children need extra support with reading, writing or numeracy skills. As a TA, your role is to guide students through lessons and provide support to classroom teachers. 

There are many different types of teaching assistants and roles vary depending on whether the TA is helping in a Primary School, Secondary School or Special Educational Needs School (SEN). So, what makes a good teaching assistant?

How to be a good teaching assistant

There are several skills that make a good teaching assistant:

  • Being able to understand an individual’s needs
  • Being flexible
  • Passion and dedication
  • Good communication skills
  • Being able to plan and prepare

Let’s take a look at each of these skills in more detail and find out why they’re so important in making a good teaching assistant.

Understanding individual needs

As a TA, it is important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for students who require support. Teaching assistants often find themselves supporting children with complex needs, who will all engage differently with different learning techniques. Being able to recognise this and be flexible in your approach is essential to becoming a good TA. Understanding that each child is different is crucial!

Be flexible

Successful teaching assistants need to be flexible and adaptable. There are many different situations in which you may need to adapt quickly – from a late change in lesson location to the need to change your tone of voice depending on the student. When something changes unexpectedly you need to show flexibility and support class teachers to manage any changes. Being ready to change your approach at any point in time is important.

Passion and dedication

Being a good teaching assistant requires dedication – going above and beyond the job role to help in the classroom. Working with children is a rewarding and fulfilling career, however, it will sometimes come with its challenges too. A teaching assistant’s duties vary from day-to-day and circumstances can change quickly. Having a passion for working with children and being dedicated to developing the mindset of the future generation is essential. A passionate and dedicated attitude will also teach students a valuable life lesson, helping to develop their own outlook on life.

Good communication

Dealing with different types of students every day, a teaching assistant will need to be a good communicator. However, it’s also important that a teaching assistant effectively communicates with classroom teachers. Communication about lesson content, learning objectives, what is expected of students and what their outcomes should be is extremely important for a teaching assistant.

Before each lesson, it is useful for a TA to communicate the following with their class teacher:

  • The learning objectives – what are the intended outcomes of the lesson? What will success look like and why does it matter in terms of the bigger picture?
  • The key concepts, knowledge and skills being taught – what do pupils need to know by the end of the lesson?
  • The ways in which pupils’ progress will be assessed – how will feedback be given and acted upon in the lesson?

Planning and preparation

Planning and preparing for each lesson in advance where possible is favourable for teaching assistants. 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 know your individual students’ learning styles. You may support one child that is a visual learner whereas another learns best through audio and practical methods. Adapting your planning and preparation to suit the individual needs of your students is a great way of ensuring success in lesson time!

Do you think you would make a good teaching assistant?

Now you know what makes a good teaching assistant, do you think you would suit the role? At i-teachers we have a wide variety of teaching assistant roles available! From Primary TA roles, secondary subject specific roles to SEN roles – we may have the perfect opportunity for you. If you’re a graduate looking to gain some classroom experience and learn first hand what makes a good teaching assistant, take a look into our unique ‘Step into Teaching’ programme!