5 Top Tips for New Teaching Assistants

As a teaching assistant, first starting out, you’re going to have your work cut out for you. Especially if you go into a secondary school, and have to teach individual lessons to students who are taking upwards of 6 lessons a day in different topics.

There’s a things you can do, regardless if you’re in a secondary school, primary school, or a special needs school, which will help you help your students more.

5 Top Tips for New Teaching Assistants

5 Tips to being a top-notch teaching assistant

1)     Memorising names

This is one of your top priorities when you become a teaching assistant. Memorising your students’ names. The reason being that the personal attention you can give to students, subconsciously demands respect. When you address students by their first names, they establish a connection.

You’re respecting them with personal attention, and in return, you’ll get more of their attention. That’s the most difficult part a teacher and their assistants have to contend with. Both getting and holding the attention of their students.

2)     Addressing the whole class

As a TA, there will be times when you’ll have to address the class. This frees up the teacher to tend to other vital tasks, such as writing their progress reports, and see to their other paperwork, keeping all the records up to date, etc. During these times, you may be required to give a brief lesson, based on the teachers’ instructions. This will have you upfront of the whole class, and probably writing notes on the blackboard/whiteboard. When you do that, you have to be sure you’re not overly using it.

You don’t want to end up mumbling at a board, rather than educating the class. Make your board notes brief and turn back to the class as quickly as you can. This will hold your students attention for longer, and will even reduce the amount of misbehaviour when kids feel there’s no adults supervising them, leaving room for mischief.

Don’t let that happen and keep your eye on the class throughout the lesson.

3)     Look for the blank stares and take mental notes

Whenever you’re addressing the class, you’ll need to address the entire class. If you focus on one particular pupil, they will get uncomfortable and feel singled out. The rest of the class will feel the same, so you need to shift your gaze around the class.

As you do, you’re going to notice some blank stares gazing back at you.

This is a sign that your pupils aren’t fully focused on what you’re teaching, or perhaps not understanding. When you see this happening, it’s time to bring in question time, and encourage participation, to increase awareness.

You don’t want the kids getting bored and tired, as they’ll stop listening to what’s being taught and therefore miss crucial education.

4)     The 10-second silent rule for asking questions

This is a lesson that’s learned through experience, and it’s not something that you’ll read in your training textbooks.

The 10-second rule applies to when you’re addressing the class and asking questions. When you’re teaching, you need participation from your students to keep them engaged in the lesson and ensure they understand what’s being taught.

If you’ve been using the tip above and looking out for the blank stares, then you’ll know which student with their hands up, to ask for the answer. If they haven’t and there’s a few students still uncertain, then you’ll need to simplify things and provide some hints to get other students involved as well.

Every child has different reaction times, so allow around 10 seconds to give everyone a chance to think over the question you’ve asked, and after that time, you’ll have more students raising their hands to answer, once you’ve given their brains sufficient time to digest everything.

5)     Teach with facts and not your views

There’s a line that teachers and their assistants cannot cross and that’s in respect to their views on different subjects. Pupils take your lessons seriously and since you’re perceived as the expert…what you say is true.

You need to cast your own personal opinions aside, and only teach the facts, kids need to know to pass their tests/exams, and not bring confusion to the table, by teaching students based on your view points, and not with the facts.

Your role, whether teaching or assisting the teacher with learning support, is to pass on factual knowledge to your students. It’s a serious role you’ll be taking on when you become a teaching assistant, and those tips above will help you become the best you can be in your career.