Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

How TAs Can Help Fight Your Corner

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

How TAs Can Help Fight Your Corner

Article excerpt

Trust your teaching assistants and together you'll be able to strike a blow for good behaviour

As a teacher, you cannot keep an eye on your class for every second of every lesson. You may have to write on a whiteboard, speak to a guest or read a student's work. And as soon as your attention wavers, a member of your class will notice and take the opportunity to misbehave.

That is why you need a "spotter" moving among the students - an observer who can see what you can't and nip problems in the bud before they blossom into full-blown issues. That person is your teaching assistant (TA).

Having worked as a TA for the past 14 years, I have developed a variety of skills that can contribute to successful classroom management. TAs are recognised for their role in the learning process but their contribution to a positive learning environment can often be undervalued.

Here are four key ways in which your TA can have a significant impact on behaviour.

1 The overall observation

The simple act of sitting at the back of the classroom as the lesson is introduced offers a unique perspective on the class. Teachers should tap into this wealth of information by holding a debrief with TAs each week to review seating plans, monitor contributions to the lesson and assess pupil dynamics.

2 The 'get on' glare

Give your TA the confidence to enforce behaviour expectations. A well-placed glance is often all that is needed to quash potential disruption. The pupil suddenly becomes aware that the TA is watching. Realising that the teacher could soon become involved, they swiftly return their full concentration to the lesson.

3 The inconspicuous interception

Occasionally, the glare is insufficient and a more proactive approach is required - when a pupil's pen suddenly "explodes", for example (a phenomenon that seems exclusively to affect teenagers). This incident could easily escalate, resulting in a teacher-pupil interaction that wastes valuable learning time. Let your TA know that when they see such a situation develop, they have your permission to deal with it quickly and efficiently - binning the pen, providing a replacement and a tissue - all before the issue becomes public knowledge.

This method also works for more deliberate forms of defiance. …

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