The relationship between a teacher and a teaching assistant can be warm and encouraging or fraught and challenging. Wherever you find yourself on that scale, it is possible to improve things.
Value your TA
This is a sure fire way of improving relations because we all love to feel appreciated. A genuine thank you at the end of a lesson or the end of a day will go a long way. Realistically though, time is tight and the end of a lesson often sees you rushing off to a duty or meeting. In that case, perhaps a text from time to time is manageable.
Pay it Forward
Look for an opportunity to help your TA out. This isn’t always as easy as it sounds as TAs are often geared up to helping teachers and teachers have a very long ‘to do’ list. Perhaps if your TA always makes you a cup of coffee, flip it round so you make them one. If your TA is feeling ill, cover their playground duty. If they are upset, offer a listening ear. Genuine kindness will not be forgotten.
Share the Plan
Having spoken with TAs about the subject of working relationships, an opportunity to see the planning before a lesson is a high priority for them. In practical terms this might help them to feel better prepared. For instance, they may wish to read up on the subject knowledge or bring a warm coat if they are working outside. TAs and teachers rarely have timetabled time together because schools are so busy and budgets so stretched. Emailing planning or simply sticking the plan up on the classroom wall is a straightforward solution.
Play to Their Strengths
We all enjoy doing things that we are good at. Did your TA have a previous career? What do they do in their spare time? By using the skills and experiences of your TA, you are again encouraging them to feel valued. I work with a TA who is also a trained dance teacher so she naturally assumes a role as head choreographer in school productions. Another TA, that I used to work with, loved acting and she would sometimes be in role as a character for the children to interview.
No one gets on all the time. There are times when you and your TA will infuriate each other. Walk away and resist temptation to make a remark that will only inflame the situation. It’s much harder to apologise later. Here’s the real reason that you have a stock cupboard – silent screaming! Lights on or off, door firmly closed, silent scream for as long as required and exit smiling. It works!
This article was written by a Deputy Head Teacher and Blogger, you can read more of her posts on education, teaching and lifestyle on her blog here. We’d love to hear your thoughts on creating a strong teacher/teaching assistant relationship in the comments section below!
Written by @CapableChild 2018