1.1 A teaching assistant can have discussions with the teacher after obtaining a copy of the prepared lesson plan. Some time may need to be set aside for these discussions to take place, such as break or lunch times. These lesson plans are usually prepared in advance, the teaching assistant can provide support by doing their own prep work or helping out with task resources.
There are three stages of planning: Long-term, medium-term and short-term. Long term requires the coverage of subjects for the academic year ahead, in conjunction with the National Curriculum. Medium-term requires a breakdown of all subjects to show what is required, such as learning outcomes and assessments. Short term produces the plan for the upcoming week, normally broken down into daily plans. This also allocates the time and role of the teaching assistant. The teaching assistant is primary involved with the short-term planning, where as the teacher is responsible for the medium and long term planning. Teaching assistants basically has whatever role the teacher sets, but do not have to contend with parent or education professionals. (184)
1.2 A teaching assistant requires the learning objective before being able to participate in the activity. This displays the objective from the teacher on what the pupils will learn throughout the activity, in a language the pupils will understand. Teaching assistants also require the learning objectives and success criteria as this provides the definition of what they hope the pupils will learn during that activity. Teaching assistants are given their role either verbally or in writing via the short-term planning. This contains any instructions from the teacher about what is required of the assistant. This information is needed to allow the teaching assistant to acquire the knowledge of each pupil so the support given is specific to each individual. It also allows targets to be set, as a whole on an individual basis. (134)
1.3 A learning activity may contain issues that a teaching assistant should be aware of. Equipment must be safe to use and the teaching assistant should know how to use the equipment. Any equipment needed should be obtained before the activity and ensure that there is enough equipment for all pupils. Lack of space, noise and temperature could cause issues with pupil’s attention span. These can be rectified by finding any alternative space, to both increase stimulation and reduce noise, also reducing or increasing temperature by controlling the classroom windows. Some pupils may find the activity either too easy or too difficult therefore the activity may need to be adapted to suit the needs of these pupils. Also additional activities may be included for those pupils who finish quicker than others. The teaching assistant must take each pupil’s learning needs into consideration.
Each pupil may display a variety of behaviours which causes them to be unfocussed with the task at hand. These may include inappropriate behaviour, lack of concentration or self- esteem issues. To rectify this, a teaching assistant could praise the pupil for working hard or try to address any underlying issues, such as family troubles. Pupils which constantly disturb others may need to be moved away. Pupils may also have difficulties with the work in general or they may have listening troubles. Asking pupils to evaluate their own work may enable them to identify their own problems and the teaching assistant can address these where appropriate. Developing small games may develop the listening skills therefore increase focus. (259)
1.4 As a teaching assistant gains confidence and experience, there will be a range of strategies developed to support the pupils with their learning, as a whole or as individuals. This occurs when the teaching assistant gets to know the pupils better. It is easier to provide effective support this way. Pupils need to fully understand the task in hand, and the expectations of the activity. Teaching assistants should explain things clearly and concisely, with the correct vocabulary to ensure the pupils understand what is expected of them.
Using open-ended questions and taking note of the pupil’s responses enables the teaching assistants to monitor the understanding and any problems associated with the activity, so these issues can be fixed at another stage. Any form of praise towards the pupil’s increases the motivation of said pupil’s and builds up their confidence; whether it be in the form of verbal praise, merit awards or school recognition. Positive body language is required when giving praise to pupils. Teaching assistants may be required to differentiate any materials, or even which pupil’s should be grouped together. Sometimes groups are formulated randomly, regardless of ability, or as ability-related groups. This allows for co-dependant study between pupils and for them to support each other in set tasks. (212)
1.5 The feedback given to the teacher by the teaching assistant can be given either verbally or in writing. This records the progression of the pupils and also the participation of each pupil. The information contained within the feedback can give teachers knowledge of all the pupils and can adapt this into future lesson plans. The information is also used to evaluate the planning and delivery of the activity in the effective way. Verbal feedback must be given at an appropriate time, in an appropriate place. Meeting the teacher to discuss this feedback may have to be done outside of lesson time due to time constriction. Written feedback is better than verbal feedback if there isn’t enough time for a discussion, and allows for a written record of each pupil achievement. Feedback is important to the teacher as it is a vital part of the planning, and the information given will enable the teacher to see the progression of each individual. The teaching assistant must therefore include the pupil’s name, support needed and the learning objective within the feedback