Good question. What does a TA do?
It just goes to show that life is one big adventure and you never know where it’s going to take you. I found myself searching online with those exact words at the end of last summer and a couple of months later I started at our local junior school as a TA. Having completed my first year as a TA in Year 4 and as I prepare to be a TA in Year 6 this year, I can now tell you, with confidence what I do as a Teaching Assistant.
What does a TA do?
Anything and everything really from making a cup of tea for yourself and your teacher to changing the display boards, helping with the learning in class and playground duty. I’ve certainly had to brush up on my football rules this year!
My day starts at 8.30am. I may have some photocopying to do or preparation of resources needed for the day’s lessons. The children enter class from 8.50 onwards and it’s surprising how quickly those first 20 minutes of the day fly by. Many a time I’ve thought, ‘What they’re coming in already?’ and rush to finish my prep.
The children leave their Reading Records on my desk and I check for a parent signature saying the child has read. I mark the register accordingly for the teacher as those children who read 5 times a week will be eligible for the end of term treat – normally a disco or a fun day to recognise their effort.
You can really see the difference between those children who read daily and those who don’t, it helps them so much at school.
The morning is split into Maths, Break, Guided Reading and English. The teacher will deliver the lessons and then asks me to sit with a group or work with individual children. Another option is to walk around the class and help those who put their hands up.
Another part of my job which I really enjoy is the afternoon interventions. I was asked to take on various reading and writing interventions and I worked with the small groups from each Year 4 class. They are 20-minute sessions with selected children designed to give them a boost in areas they need or to push them further.
One afternoon each week, the class teacher will go to the staffroom and use the time to plan for the following week. It’s quite normal that the TA will cover the teacher and deliver lessons. I cover on Monday afternoons and teach Spanish, RE and Music. All of the lessons were prepared with great outlines and resources all ready to use.
Other TA duties
Playground duty – I am on the playground 3 times a week and I love it. Apart from being in the fresh air, I get to see the children let off steam and frequently I am surrounded by a group of them asking questions. I also cover an entrance corridor one day a week and the playground at the end of school another day to make sure no one hangs around and plays on the equipment.
Display boards – I love this part as it taps into my creative side. Luckily to date, I have been given free reign around a set theme. It’s all about displaying the children’s work so they feel proud of it and visitors are able to see how well the children are doing.
After school clubs – I have been able to start up a school blog and hold a Monday after school club – Blog Club! I have between 10-20 children and we write about all sorts of things. The beauty is allowing them to take control of their writing and ideas, I help out at the end with editing and images.
Fundraising – Yep, I decided to put forward the idea of running a talent show for the children and we got the go ahead! Together with another two TAs (I couldn’t do this on my own) we auditioned about 75 kids and put on a show with 22 acts. Tickets and programmes were sold and the money went into the school voluntary fund.
Accompanying children – to swimming lessons or on school trips. I have been to the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum, Shorne Country Park and our local Gurdwara.
What’s needed to be a TA?
If you are thinking of applying for a TA position you’ll need to have a sound knowledge of Maths and English at GCSE level. You’ll need to know how to use a photocopier and a computer. Take a look at the school website and read through the school policies, you’ll have about 30 children in your care and you’ll need to know about safeguarding them, Health and Safety guidelines and policies and procedures in place.
You’ll need to be able to relate to children and get on with the other adult members of staff. You’ll be a team player and ready to try your hand at many tasks to ensure a good day of learning.