Taryn worked in a a primary school based in East London for a year prior to joining us in the office. She loved her experience and got a lot of value out of her time working in the education sector. Read more of her story below:
Teaching assistants play an important role in the classroom. Not only are TAs tasked with providing support to the classroom teacher, but they also provide help and support to children within the learning environment.
I love working in Education, having worked in Australian high schools as a Guidance Counsellor while studying a Postgraduate Diploma in Counselling and also having been employed as an unqualified TA in London, for anzuk Education, I’ve been asked to share some useful tips to being an effective support person in education.
It takes a particular type of person to work with children (especially in London where behaviour can be quite challenging, according to the majority of Australian teachers that pass through the UK on Working Holidays). A professional attitude is important to be able to build and maintain healthy professional relationships with staff. Teaching is a team effort and support from your coworkers is invaluable especially when starting out at a new school – students naturally challenge new teachers and TAs so your coworkers will come in handy where behaviour management is concerned. Remember, as a supply or long term TA, you too become an integral part of a team, tasked to monitor, manage, support and educate young people – never undervalue your role within the school and you will gain the respect of staff and students alike.
Along with a professional attitude, if you have a strong regard for the wellbeing of children, both physical and emotional, you will make a fantastic TA. And on the topic of child welfare, always familiarise yourself with safeguarding policies and procedures and learn who you can turn to for support with such matters. It is important to be genuine in the support and care you provide to the children you work with while remaining objective at all times. It is easy to feel triggered by some behaviours exhibited by children and other staff members (we’re all human, after all). Remember you are there to be a role model. A great TA has a positive approach to working with children and an ability to build rapport, inspire and motivate them.
In this wonderful day and age, every school is different in its diversity. Having the ability to recognise and respect diversity in the classroom is a quality that will help the modern-day TA adapt quickly (especially important when doing supply) and ensure that all children are treated with the compassion and respect they deserve. Lead by example. Where appropriate, take the opportunity to work with a broad range of professionals within the education environment to not only assist you in gaining a more wholesome understanding of students’ needs but also to increase your own skill- and knowledge-set. Most schools will have a broad range of professionals giving support to students such as therapists, psychologists and social workers, just to name a few. For example, while on a short term placement with anzuk at a Primary School in North East London, I worked closely with a student that spent 30-minutes per fortnight with a contracted Speech Pathologist. By attending these 30-minute sessions with the student, I was able to gain a better understanding of the student’s needs and continue with elements of the therapy beyond the sessions, in the classroom.
As a TA, you can be tasked to work with children of all ages – from Nursery right through to High School. I had the pleasure of working in Nursery, Reception, Primary and Secondary settings and I must say that I loved working with Primary aged children, which surprised me as my previous experience in education had been with high school aged students which I really enjoyed. I also jumped at the opportunity to work as a Cover Supervisor (unqualified teacher) which I highly recommend for anyone who has ever thought about studying teaching. Cover Supervisors are tasked to cover lessons in high school settings. As a Cover Supervisor, you are not required to teach the lesson, but rather, deliver the content and supervise the class including marking the roll and marking the work if applicable. It requires confidence, behaviour management and time management skills but is rewarding and usually pays better than unqualified TA work.
For unqualified and qualified TAs alike, there is so much opportunity for both personal and professional growth. If working as a TA is a temporary role for you, make the most of the experience by being open to taking on new challenges and learning on the job.
Some points to help you get off on the right foot and step into your TA role with confidence:
● Be punctual – show up for your students and be there to support the teacher. Set a good example at all times.
● Be flexible and adaptable;
● Communicate clearly and confidently, and always show a positive attitude;
● Don’t be afraid to share ideas and collaborate with teachers;
● Research the school’s policies and procedures especially for behaviour management;
● Stay alert for opportunities to assist students and teachers.
For more information on becoming a teaching assistant in the UK, visit our jobseekers page: https://anzuk.education/uk/jobseekers