Interview with a Teaching Assistant02 Mar, 20231-2 minutes
There’s a lot more to being a Teaching Assistant than meets the eye.
The responsibilities of a Teaching Assistant stretch far beyond simply supporting the class Teacher. Individuals in this role take on a large proportion of admin tasks and day to day duties to help a school run successfully.
If you’re interested in pursuing a career in the education industry, you might like to hear first hand exactly what being a Teaching Assistant entails.
To gain further insight, we’ve been catching up with a Teaching Assistant from the North West of England, to discover more about day to day life in this role.
How did you decide you wanted to work in the education industry?
After being made redundant from the banking industry, I decided I wanted to begin a career working with young children.
I began applying for Teaching Assistant jobs and the rest is history. I also spent a few years of my career as a full time Teacher, but went back to being a Teaching Assistant at a local primary school as I had really enjoyed this kind of work in the past.
What advice would you give to someone looking to become a Teaching Assistant?
I would definitely advise people to look for opportunities to complete voluntary experience in schools, before taking the leap of faith into a full time career in education.
This will help them to decide if it’s really a career they want to pursue and will also be a massive help when it comes to applying for jobs. Voluntary work also looks great on an education CV so the more you have, the better!
What is your favourite thing about being a Teaching Assistant?
The best thing about my job is knowing I am making a difference to the learning, development and the emotional wellbeing of young children. This is a really rewarding aspect of working in education and something I never take for granted.
Even after a hard day, it’s a great feeling to know I have played a part in helping a class of children learn and develop.
What are the key attributes and skills needed to succeed in the education industry?
There are many attributes I can think of that will help an individual succeed in the education industry and they generally all revolve around being compassionate and having lots of energy!
I think the most successful education professionals are creative, strong communicators, have an affinity with children and young people and are able to remain calm in demanding situations.
I think patience is also vital for communicating effectively with children and being a forward thinker will also benefit someone greatly as a Teaching Assistant.
What does a typical working day as a Teaching Assistant involve?
A typical working day begins with me ensuring that the resources the Teacher requires for the day ahead are organised and ready. I then help with greeting the children and carrying out support interventions before the main lessons begin.
During the children’s Maths and Literacy lessons, I am on hand to support any children who have additional learning needs.
As well as this, there are plenty of admin jobs to fit in throughout each day such as updating displays, marking work, sorting reading resources and a variety of jobs that the class teacher might need help with.
The days fly by as they’re always crammed full of things to do from start to finish!
Is there anything you wish you knew about being a Teaching Assistant before you started?
There’s nothing specific that I really wish I knew before I began my career in education, however I will say that it’s a real eye opener when you first work in a school because of how much there is to do in any given day.
Even the little jobs like playground duty and helping the children with their school bags add up and I think sometimes people beginning their career in this industry don’t realise how much energy it requires until they are on the job!
What advice would you give someone to stand out in the education industry?
To stand out, I think it's important to show that you have a real desire to influence the learning and development of young children and to show that you are naturally good at establishing rapport with them.
Finding the right balance between establishing authority and treating students with the respect they deserve is key for a successful relationship with them. I think a Teaching Assistant who cracks this will stand out and be a desirable employee for any school.
I also think having as much relevant voluntary experience as possible is a great way to stand out from other applicants, especially at the beginning of your career when you might not have any previous experience in a school.
Did the pandemic affect your role as a Teaching Assistant in any way?
The pandemic affected school life and my role in a massive way. Whilst a lot of children had to be homeschooled, there was a significant number of children with keyworker parents and guardians who were still attending school throughout the lockdowns.
The work the teachers put in to help the school run successfully, whilst being so disrupted by the pandemic, was incredible. A key part of my role was to keep things going in the classroom whilst the teacher was carrying out lessons online.
I found it really rewarding to know I was able to help the school to continue delivering fulfilling lessons to its students, whether they were at home or school.
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