Teaching Assistant -skills and qualities

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Ten qualities/skills needed by a Classroom Assistant

from a teacher’s/research co-ordinator’s point of view:

  • Sees what needs to be done & does it without being asked.
  • Is familiar with the classroom routines.
  • Spots when children are struggling & differentiates work accordingly.
  • Has a good eye for displays & enjoys doing them.
  • Has good listening skills & is approachable.
  • Is flexible & copes well with sudden changes in routine.
  • Is confident & comfortable working with groups.
  • Confident & knowledgeable about schemes such as ALS/FLS.
  • Computer literate & confident with the programmes available in school
  • Has a strong stomach & can cope calmly with ill children.
The first of these skills borders on clairvoyance but my experience suggests that this is what most teachers hope for in a Teaching Assistant. You have to know what it is they want done before they do themselves. it is a tricky balance between this skill and overstepping the mark. You need tact and diplomacy to know where each teacher’s boundaries are. Some of these suggestions will be on my list but many are qualities rather than skills so they may be difficult to include.

Ten qualities/skills needed by an TA as suggested by an SSA of 30 years standing.

  • Knowledge of the education system (Nat Curriculum/ literacy & numeracy hour/ referral, statementing & review)
  • Specialist skills in order to support pupil ( signing, braille, wheelchair handling, speech & language, dyslexia etc.)
  • Communication skills (ability to communicate with teachers, pupils & parents)
  • Appropriate recognised qualifications
  • Ability to differentiate in order to tailor work to pupils’ ability
  • Understanding of pupils’ personal as well as academic needs & to treat with respect
  • Recognise the need for stability & therefore taking on tasks which can be maintained.
  • Willingness to update skills/qualifications
  • Competent record keeping
  • Skill to empower children to access all areas of the curriculum & to achieve their maximum potential.
It is hard to argue with this list. This TA really knows what the job as it has been requires. I am concerned that this list is very focussed on the individual support situation which is becoming less common in all schools.

A Good TA should be:

(according to a bursar )

  • Conscientious
  • Adaptable
  • Able to use his/her own initiative but work as part of a team
  • Sensitive to the needs of individual children without showing favouritism
  • Able to maintain confidentiality
These are qualities rather than skills but they translate into a professional attitude to the job which I am sure is vital.

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