EDCI 6225 Developing Skills for the Teaching Assistant


WELCOME

This course is intended to enable teaching assistants at different levels of practical experience to more effectively support students and teachers in their day to day activities.

This course consists of four modules:

  1. Roles and responsibilities
  2. Supporting students
  3. Supporting the teacher
  4. Supporting the school

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PREPARATION

Several Activities and Tasks in this course ask you to gather data on your students. Whenever you gather data about pupils or colleagues, you should always obtain informal consent. This means that all involved (e.g., students, parents, colleagues and Board members) know you are carrying out research to aid you in your own learning. You should make clear what you're researching, how it'll be carried out, how the data will be recorded and what use will be made of it. You should also always work on the Activities and Tasks contained in this course with the consent – and ideally help – of the relevant classroom teacher.

COURSE STRUCTURE

This is an independent study program which means your individual starting date and due date are based on your date of registration. Your instructor will advise you of this due date.

This is an interactive on-line course. Although you will be able to complete some of it just by sitting in front of your screen working through the on-line material, we will regularly ask you to reflect on what you have learned, and put ideas into practice.

  • Activities - exercises or reflections for you to carry out in front of your computer screen. Unlike a Task, there is no specific end product, and you'll always be able to complete them on your own.
  • Tasks - similar to Activities, but requiring you to put your learning into practice in a specific situation in school.
  • Forms - use to collect the information learned.
  • Resources -

    a) RESOURCE FORMS: Has PDF forms to help you answer questions in the Student Books

    b) RESOURCE FURTHER READING: Includes clarifications about the module.

    c) REFERENCE LINKS: Has links to websites referred to in the module.

    d) DEFINITIONS: Has definitions of terms used in the module.

    e) BIBLIOGRAPHY: The bibliography is located at the bottom of this page that includes books you may check out at your local library.

  • Student Book- for you to record your reflections and send to your instructor.

At any time you may email your instructor with questions or problems you may be having with the material or the web site.

How do I get the Student Book to my instructor?

You will need to email it to your instructor. Download and save the document as described below and then you can enter your own text into the Student Book word document. Your instructor will expect a version of your Student Book as you complete each module. These can be saved by you in your files as well as being sent to your course instructor via email as an email attachment.

How do I save and name the Student Book?

You cannot type your answers on this web site. You must download your Student Book template which is a word document, by clicking on the download link below.

For your Student Book, please use a text document or a Microsoft Word document and type your text there. Title the document like this:

  • NAME OF CLASS
  • NAME OF TEACHER
  • YOUR NAME
  • DATE
  • MODULE1

[NAMEOFCLASS_TEACHERSNAME_YOURNAME_MODULENUMBER.doc ]

like this

6208_DRCLARK_JOHNDOE_MODULE1.doc

Save the Student Book on your computer and complete the assignments on the document and then email it to your teacher.

INDEX

STUDENTBOOKS Click here to download all student books

RESOURCES

BIBLIOGRAPHY

REFERENCE LINKS


Module 1: Roles and responsibilities

MODULE1A Intended learning outcomes for Module 1

MODULE1B Activity 1: Your job description

MODULE1C Activity 2: What actually happens

MODULE1D Activity 3: How do you support pupils’ learning?

MODULE1E Activity 4: Sorting out your priorities

MODULE1F Task 1: Talking with the class teacher about your training needs

MODULE1G Activity 5: Setting your own targets

MODULE1H Activity 6: Assessment of targets

MODULE1I What have you learned? Evaluation of your learning from Module 1

MODULE1J Congratulations

Module 2: Supporting pupils

MODULE2A Intended learning outcomes for Module 2

MODULE2B Activity 7: Managing behavior

MODULE2C Activity 8: Motivating pupils

MODULE2D Task 2: Using praise

MODULE2E Activity 9: Rewards and sanctions

MODULE2F Task 3: Encouraging positive behavior

MODULE2G Activity 10: A closer look at sanctions

MODULE2H Activity 11: When and how to use sanctions

MODULE2I Activity 12: Pastoral support

MODULE2J Learning styles and multiple intelligences

MODULE2K What have you learned? Evaluation of your learning from Module 2

MODULE2J Congratulations

Module 3: Supporting the teacher

MODULE3A Intended learning outcomes for Module 3

MODULE3B Activity 13: Resources

MODULE3C Activity 14: Accessing Resources

MODULE3D Task 4: Organizing Resources to promote learning

MODULE3E Task 5: Preparing materials

MODULE3F Activity 15: Why planning is important

MODULE3G Activity 16: Planning in practice

MODULE3H Activity 17: Record keeping and assessment

MODULE3I Task 6: Giving feedback to the teacher

MODULE3J Activity 18: Classroom observation

MODULE3K Task 7: Observing

MODULE3L What have you learned? Evaluation of your learning from Module 3

MODULE3M Congratulations

Module 4: Supporting the school

MODULE4A Intended learning outcomes for Module 4

MODULE4B Activity 19: Supporting the school

MODULE4C Activity 20: Who are you accountable to?

MODULE4D Activity 21: Communicating with other staff

MODULE4E Activity 22: Supervision

MODULE4F Task 8: Supervising the pupils

MODULE4G Activity 23: Supervising classes

MODULE4H Activity 24: Administration

MODULE4I Activity 25: Communicating with other teaching assistants

MODULE4J Activity 26: Communicating with parents

MODULE4K What have you learned? Evaluation of your learning from Module 4

MODULE4L Congratulations

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Module 1: Roles and responsibilities

MODULE 1A Intended learning outcomes for Module 1

By the end of this module you should:

  • know your roles and responsibilities as set out in your job description
  • be able to analyze the difference between your job description and your day-to-day work be able to prioritize roles and responsibilities
  • be able to identify areas where support or guidance is required
  • be able to set personal targets
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MODULE 1B- Activity 1: Your job description

Job descriptions don't usually make very interesting reading but have a careful look at yours. It should tell you what you have to do to support the students, teachers and school as a whole. Click on your Student Book (1) and answer the questions there to make sure you're happy with your job description.

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MODULE 1C- Activity 2: What actually happens

Now you've had a chance to think about your job description, you need to match what it says with the reality of what you actually do. It may be your role has developed since you started work. Is your job description up-to-date and does it fully define what you now do?

Have a look at Resource 1, which lists just some of the "extra" ways a teaching assistant can help the school. Print this Resource as you will use it later in the course.

Then go to your Student Book (2) and answer the questions there as accurately as you can. In the last space of your a Student Book (2), use your "no" and "don't know" answers to make an action list of what must happen to bring your job description and what you actually do, closer together.

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MODULE 1D-Activity 3: How do you support pupils’ learning?

It's now time to sort out your priorities for how you can best support student's learning.

Your answers will depend, to some extent at least, on your role in the classroom. For example, if you work in genuine partnership with your classroom teacher, it's likely that you'll be able to be more ambitious in your priorities than if your role is simply as an "extra pair of hands" to help out when needed.

Your answers will also depend on your school's existing structures and protocols in the area of supporting student learning. Take these into account when listing your priorities.

With this in mind, go to your Student Book- (3) and answer the questions it poses. Then use your responses to the questions to help you prioritize which areas you need to be focusing on in order to improve the quality of the support you give the students.

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MODULE 1E- Activity 4: Sorting out your priorities

By now you should be clearer about how your job description differs from what you actually do. You will also have sorted out your priorities for supporting students' learning. The next step is to decide where you need some extra support and guidance to do your job better.

Print out Resource 2 and fill in the training needs assessment form.

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MODULE 1F- Task 1: Talking with the class teacher about your training needs

When you've completed your training needs form, take some time to discuss it with the class teacher. You may well be a little unsure of how to talk to the class teacher about your training needs. After all, you don't want to be a nuisance or give the impression that you don't think you can cope with the job. Don't worry. Everyone in school is aware of the need to always be upgrading their professional skills. This is what teachers mean when they talk about CPD (Continuing professional development).

If you're still wary of approaching the teacher, click on Resource 3: Discussing training needs and read the scenario of teaching assistant and a class teacher discussing the teaching assistant's training needs. Then, when you've done that, go to your Student book (4) and think about the way in which Sue the teaching assistant handled the situation.

Here are some questions to get you thinking:

  • How did Sue begin the discussion?
  • Why did she do it like that?
  • Did Sue stress her strengths or weaknesses?
  • Was she too assertive?
  • Was she too apologetic?
  • Why do you think the teacher responded to Sue in the way she did?

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MODULE 1G-Activity 5: Setting your own targets

You want to make a difference to the pupils you are supporting, otherwise you wouldn't be a teaching assistant. Watching children grow and learn and knowing you've played your part in their development is very satisfying. But this will not happen immediately. You need to set yourself targets and goals so that you can measure your progress towards this desired end.

Use your Student book (5) to list some short-, medium- and long-term targets that you want to achieve. For example:

  • a short-term target might be as simple as getting the children to listen to you
  • a medium-term target could be to make a wall display of the children's work
  • a long-term target could be to become competent in ICT

Refer back to your Student book (3) to help you with this Activity. As well as being your personal aims, your targets should relate to your school development plan and key stage strategy. Discuss and negotiate your targets with your class teacher to ensure that you are in agreement. They may also have some suggestions

MODULE 1H- Activity 6: Assessment of targets

Think about the targets you have set for yourself in your Student book (5).

Print out the grid in Resource 4 and copy your targets onto it. Add the dates by which you hope to have completed them.
Then you can use this table as a monitoring tool – as you achieve your targets, write in your comments describing how hard or easy you found each one and why. In the light of your comments, write on the grid what your next target will be.

Remember, though, that your targets may change. All your targets should be negotiated with your class teacher, and sometimes they may suggest a change of emphasis. You need to be flexible enough to respond to the varying needs of your class teacher.

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MODULE 1I- What have you learned? Evaluation of your learning from Module 1

When you have worked through the Activities and the Task in this module, please look again at the intended learning outcomes for Module 1.
By the end of this module you should:

  • know your roles and responsibilities as set out in your job description
  • be able to analyze the difference between your job description and your day-to-day work
  • be able to prioritize roles and responsibilities
  • be able to identify areas where support or guidance is required
  • be able to set personal targets

How much has this module helped you to achieve these outcomes? Make a note in your Student book(6) and e-mail your comments to your instructor.

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MODULE 1J- Congratulations

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Module 2: Supporting pupils

MODULE 2A - Intended learning outcomes for Module 2

By the end of this module, you should be able to understand the principles of:

  • managing students' behavior using praise, rewards and sanctions
  • motivating your students
  • creating a stimulating learning environment
  • identifying ways of offering pastoral support

MODULE 2B - Activity 7: Managing behavior

The first thing to remember when trying to manage students' behavior, is don't fight fire with fire. People who do, tend to end up with ashes. Students respond to aggression with either aggression or sullenness and neither is what you want. So what should you do? Well, don't panic because there are some key strategies you can use to help you stay in control.

It's very important that all your behavior management strategies are consistent with any existing school protocols, for example your school's code of conduct and its accepted teaching strategies. And as always, you should discuss any strategies you plan to use with your class teacher.

Perhaps the four most vital, overarching strategies you can use are:

  • clarity of expectation - that you, your colleagues and students know exactly what is expected of them in response to any instruction, task and activity you give them.
  • effective communication - expressing yourself in a way that is clearly understood and leads to an intended result. trust - to have or develop faith in someone
  • emotional intelligence - the ability to understand, recognize, hand and express appropriate emotions. But within these, there are a further four strategies that are also very important in effective behavior management.

Print out Resource 5: Four strategies.

When you have studied these strategies go to your Student book (7) and answer the questions you'll find there.

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MODULE 2C - Activity 8: Motivating pupils

Many pupils are keen to learn, though some will need you to inspire, challenge, and stimulate them. But whatever attitudes your students have you will be able to have a positive influence on them. Lots of things affect a student's motivation to work and to learn. The key factors are their:

  • interest in the subject
  • general desire to achieve
  • self-confidence and self-esteem
  • level of patience and persistence

Of course, not all pupils are motivated by the same values, needs or wants. Some of your students will work hard because they want to please you and some because they like overcoming challenges. To encourage your pupils to become self-motivated, independent learners, you can do the following:

(Note: discuss these techniques with your class teacher before using them in the classroom.)

  • lots of early, positive feedback that boosts the students' confidence
  • give them every opportunity to succeed by setting tasks that are neither
  • too easy nor too hard
  • make the content relevant to the students
  • create an atmosphere that is open and positive
  • let the students know you like working with them and that you value their efforts

Use your Student book (8) to make a note of what you do at the moment to motivate the students you support.

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MODULE 2D - Task 2: Using praise

We know we shouldn't, but we all lose our tempers and raise our voices occasionally. But shouting is not a very good way of controlling students. It's far better to "blast them with praise" if you can. Your school probably has some written guidelines on how to praise students. Have a good look at them – it's important for your school's overall effectiveness and coherence that you follow any existing protocols.

Here are some of our suggestions on how to praise students to create a good working atmosphere:

  • be positive and generous with praise – thank students for something well done
  • don't mix praise with criticism – pupils only remember the criticism
  • rather than being critical, focus on a positive target for improvement instead
  • catch the students being good, especially the "naughty" ones
  • smile when the students are doing something right – it's amazing what a difference this can make

In your Student book (9), reflect on how many of the above suggestions you actually use. The next time you're working with a group of students, put these strategies into action. Then return to your Student book (9) and make some notes on how well you were able to do this and the effect it had on the students.

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MODULE 2E - Activity 9: Rewards and sanctions

Knowing what is expected is the basis of any effective system of rewards and sanctions. If students know what it is you want from them then they will understand why you use praise, rewards and sanctions in the way you do. It’s always best if you concentrate on praise and rewards rather than punishments. Students respond more readily to them and they help to establish positive relationships between you and the students.
As always, it’s important to refer to your school policy on rewards and sanctions, if there is one, and to talk with your class teacher when deciding on your approach.

Bull and Solity (1993) highlight the following ways in which you can reward your students:

  • social rewards such as commending students to their class teacher or head
  • activity rewards such as allowing students to give out pencils, paper and so on
  • token rewards such as good behavior badges, certificates, house points, stickers, etc


You’ll notice that they don’t recommend material rewards such as sweets or toys. Go to your Student book (10) and write down three reasons why offering students material rewards is likely to be counter-productive.

MODULE 2F - Task 3: Encouraging positive behavior

Ask the class teacher what rewards system they have to encourage good behavior. For example, house points or stars or even a "reward card" that allows the students to build up credits that entitle them to extra time on the computer or a comparable activity.

Now, with the agreement of your class teacher, devise a simple positive reward system of your own to complement this, e.g., homemade badges saying "I’ve worked hard" or "I’ve really improved".

Resource 6: Example graphics has some items you could use. With the class teacher’s permission, try out your system with the students you support. Print out Resource 7: Recording the impact of your ideas and use it to record how successful your new idea has been in improving the students’ behavior and enthusiasm.

MODULE 2G - Activity 10: A closer look at sanctions

The work you did on the previous two pages will have helped you decide how best to encourage positive behavior from your students. Now you need to think carefully about sanctions. Sadly, it is highly likely that you will have used them at some point. But what are effective sanctions? Here are some suggestions:

  • expressing your disapproval for an action or behavior
  • missing break time for a specified period of time
  • having to stop playing/taking part in a favorite activity
  • having to go back and apologize/put something right
  • having to report to the class teacher

Think about the sanctions used by the teachers in your school. Now go to your Student book (11) and make a list of them. Decide which ones actually work.

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MODULE 2H - Activity 11: When and how to use sanctions

If you have to use sanctions, remember that:

  • they should comply with school policy
  • they should not be done in anger and never in an unkind way
  • sanctions are only used in response to a clear breach of the rules
  • you are firm and don't make threats, argue, plead or bargain
  • a sanction does not include taking away existing rewards
  • a group is not punished for the errors of one
  • sanctions are manageable and enforceable
  • sanctions, once given, are carried through

Now read Resource 8: A confrontation to get an example of a confrontational situation. The first part shows how not to issue a sanction to a disruptive student. The second part shows how to deal with the same situation effectively. When you've done this go to your Student book (12) and make notes on why the second approach was effective while the first one wasn't.

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MODULE 2I - Activity 12: Pastoral support

Your job as a teaching assistant will involve you in doing many different things. You will certainly help the students improve their literacy and numeracy skills, but another key role is giving pastoral support. This means helping the students who have specific behavioral, emotional or even physical needs cope with their life in school.

You have an important part to play in raising the students' self-esteem by taking an interest in them as people and not just as students who struggle with their work. By chatting to the students about their news, interests and activities they will come to see you as someone who is approachable and ready to listen. In this way you will win their trust and respect.

As one teaching assistant said, "He was not at all interested in reading. I got to know him well just by talking to him. I got to understand what his sense of humor was. I could then identify books he might enjoy reading. In the end … he did well in his [tests]". (Working with teaching assistants – a good practice guide, DfES, 2001).

Now go to your Student book (13) and make a note of some of the ways in which you could give specific students in your school pastoral support. As always, refer to any existing structures and protocols first. Here are some suggestions on how you may be able to help:

  • take an interest in their hobbies or special activities they do outside of school
  • support the work of outside agencies such as speech therapists
  • tactfully intervene at appropriate times to
  • help a student with a disability to become more independent
  • help students integrate and make friends during break time

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MODULE 2J - Learning styles and multiple intelligences

The ideas of learning styles and multiple intelligences are increasingly being used in today's classrooms. It's not the scope of this course to go into these in detail here, but why not have a look at our courses that deal with these subjects?

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MODULE 2K- What have you learned? Evaluation of your learning from Module 2

When you have worked through the Activities and Tasks in this module, please look again at the intended learning outcomes for Module 2.

By the end of this module, you should be able to understand the principles of:

  • managing students' behavior using praise, rewards and sanctions
  • motivating your students
  • creating a stimulating learning environment
  • identifying ways of offering pastoral support

How much has this module helped you to achieve these outcomes? Make a note in your Student book (14) and e-mail your comments to your instructor.

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MODULE 2L- Congratulations

Module 3: Supporting the teacher

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Module 3: Supporting the teacher

MODULE3A - Intended learning outcomes for Module 3

By the end of this module you should:

  • be able to access, prepare and organize resources to promote learning
  • know the importance of planning
  • understand the role of record keeping and assessment
  • understand the role of classroom observation

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MODULE3B - Activity 13: Resources

The main thing to remember is that people are the most important resource in a school. You, as a teaching assistant, are a very valuable resource, both to the pupils you support and to the teacher. You bring a great deal of experience, knowledge and skills to the classroom so don't be afraid to share these virtues. That's what you're there for!

Go to your Student book (15) and take a few moments to note down the particular qualities that you have that will make a difference to your school.

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MODULE3C- Activity 14: Accessing resources

If you can't get hold of the resources you need to teach your lesson the students in your session will suffer. So, in order to make sure you avoid this situation, you should note the following:

  • be clear what the key learning points are that the class teacher wants you to focus on with the students in the session
  • find out well in advance what resources are available to support these points, e.g., if you are doing some science work on floating and sinking
  • you'll need access to water, a tank or bowl, objects that will either float or sink, etc – this will give you time to collect them
  • if the resources are not available don't attempt the lesson until you've had time to collect or make your own

Now read Resource 9: A discussion . It's a brief conversation between a class teacher and a teaching assistant on the subject of resources. Then print out Resource 10: Resource checklist. Make some copies of it and use it as a checklist before each of your sessions with the students to make sure you have the resources you need.

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MODULE3D- Task 4: Organizing resources to promote learning

Go and take a close look at the classroom(s) where you work. Make a note of how they are organized to promote learning. Include your class teacher/s in this task. Focus on the following areas:

  • space
  • arrangement of furniture
  • storage areas
  • displays

Print out Resource 11: Resource use evaluation form. It contains a list of key questions that will help you to decide how well the resources in the classroom(s) are being used to help the students learn effectively.

When you've completed the task, use your Student book (16) to reflect on what you've seen.

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MODULE3E - Task 5: Preparing materials

As a teaching assistant you can be a real help to the teacher by:

  • getting materials ready for the lesson
  • preparing worksheets
  • preparing books
  • setting up equipment

Think of a student or group of students you support. Your task is to make a worksheet to use with them. Explore one of the following websites and find a suitable resource idea. Cut and paste the material and adapt it for use with your students. If you work in an elementary school go to www.primaryresources.co.uk. If you work in a secondary school, go to http://www.education.com/worksheets/high-school/ Work closely with your class teacher while you carry out this task. When you've used your worksheet with the students, go to your Student book (17) and jot down: the pros and cons of using the site to find quick, easy-to-use resources the effectiveness of your worksheet, both in terms of the interest and motivation of the students and your class teacher's assessment how you could improve your worksheet

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MODULE3F - Activity 15: Why planning is important

Good planning in schools is important because:

  • it gives us a clear idea of what it is we want students to learn
  • it tells us when we are going to teach these things
  • it tells us what we need to teach these things
  • it tells us how we want to teach these things
  • it gives continuity to the learning process

Use your Student book (18) to answer these questions:

  • What things must be planned for in school?
  • What school activities do not need detailed planning?

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MODULE 3G - Activity 16: Planning in practice

It's vital that you are involved with the teacher in planning activities for the students if your support is to be effective (Lorenz, 1998). But what does this mean in practice? On a weekly basis you would expect the class teacher to take a little time to:

  • share lesson plans with you
  • explain objectives
  • discuss with you how best you can help achieve these learning objectives

For more long-term planning, it's reasonable to expect that you'll spend at least 30 minutes with the teacher discussing what the students should know, be able to do, and understand by the end of that term or half-term. You should also discuss how you'll help them achieve this.

The feedback you'll be able to give to the class teacher after you've worked with a group or individual will help them assess the students' progress and needs. This will allow them to plan the next phase of work for these students appropriately.

Use your Student book (19) to reflect on how involved you are in the planning process in your school.

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MODULE 3H- Activity 17: Record keeping and assessment

We have looked at why planning is important. But we cannot plan successfully unless we know what our students have learned, how they've learned it and what their strengths and weaknesses are. So we need to assess and record our students' progress. Assessment, record keeping and planning go together to make a "virtuous circle" – plan, prepare, do, review.

Assessments can be:

formative - This type of assessment involves both the teacher and student in a process of continual reflection and review about progress.

summative - This is carried out at the end of a unit or year or key stage or when the student is leaving the school to make judgments about their performance in relation to standards.

diagnostic - This type of assessment attempts to find specific reasons for learning difficulties.

Each one has a different purpose but all are useful. Now have a look at Resource 12: Assessment and then use your Student book (20) to answer these questions:

  • Why do you assess the students?
  • How do you assess the work done by the students you support?

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MODULE 3I Task 6: Giving feedback to the teacher

Print out Resource 13: Record of pupil's progress and use it to record one student's progress in your sessions. If your school already provides a similar form, use that as your progress sheet instead, adding any relevant parts of our form to it.

Then take a few minutes to discuss the form with your class teacher and ask if they would find it helpful if you used sheets like this on a regular basis. You might come up with an adapted sheet in the light of this discussion.

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MODULE 3J- Activity 18: Classroom observation

In a busy classroom it isn't always easy for the teacher to be aware of what each student is doing and of how well they are staying on task. As a teaching assistant you can help by:

  • actively observing certain students identified by the teacher during a particular lesson or activity
  • giving the teacher feedback on what you saw

But, before you do this, you and the class teacher need to decide:

  • who you will observe
  • why you're observing them
  • what you'll be looking out for

Read Resource 14: A pre-observation discussion . This a fairly typical pre-observation meeting between a class teacher and a teaching assistant. Then use your Student book (21) to list five reasons why the class teacher may want to observe students more closely.

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MODULE 3K- Task 7: Observing

Talk with the class teacher and agree which students it would be useful for you to observe in the classroom. Discuss the key things you will be looking out for. Make an observation chart to use during the observation. Carry out the observation and then give the class teacher feedback on what you saw.

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MODULE 3l- What have you learned? Evaluation of your learning from Module 3

When you have worked through the Activities and Tasks in this module, please look again at the intended learning outcomes for Module 3.

By the end of this module you should:

  1. be able to access, prepare and organize resources to promote learning
  2. know the importance of planning
  3. understand the role of record keeping and assessment
  4. understand the role of classroom observation

How much has this module helped you to achieve these outcomes? Make a note in your Student book (22) and e-mail your comments to your instructor.

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MODULE 3M- Congratulations

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Module 4: Supporting the school

- MODULE 4A-Intended learning outcomes for Module 4

By the end of this module you should have a clear understanding of the importance of:

  • supporting the school
  • communicating with other staff
  • supervising students reducing teachers' workload
  • communicating with colleagues
  • communicating with parents

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- MODULE 4B-Activity 19: Supporting the school

Have another look at Resource 1.

All of these areas are in addition to the traditional roles of helping out in the classroom and providing extra support in class for pupils with special educational needs. But is your school making the most of your talents? Go to your Student book (23) and list:

  • the ways in which teaching assistants currently provide support to your school
  • any new ways in which you can provide support to the school

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- MODULE 4C- Activity 20: Who are you accountable to?

However your school uses you to support it, you will only be effective if:

  • your responsibilities are clear
  • the school has an appropriate system of accountability

You can be accountable to:

  • the principal
  • the assistant principal
  • the special needs coordinator
  • the class teacher
  • someone else!

But it's important that whoever you report to understands your role and is clear how you should work. For example, if you're involved mainly with students with special needs, then the special needs coordinator would probably be the most suitable manager for you. The key thing is that you get consistent direction and guidance from them. This will help you to feel more confident in what you're doing and allow you to provide good support to the school.

In your Student book (24) note your main area of responsibility and then consider why your current manager is the most appropriate person to direct your activities.

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MODULE 4D : Activity 21: Communicating with other staff

As a teaching assistant, you will feel isolated if you don't have the chance to meet with other staff to share experiences and discuss plans and developments. This need not be a problem if your school timetables regular weekly meetings for you to attend with key members of staff.

These sessions are useful for the staff to explain how they want you to work with them and to give you feedback from staff meetings about wider issues. But they should also give you the opportunity to talk about the things that are concerning you.

Use your Student book (25) to reflect on the ways in which your school helps you to communicate with other members of staff. For example, are you invited to formal staff meetings? Are you allowed to use the staffroom? Are you invited to attend individual reviews? If not, why not?

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MODULE4E- Activity 22: Supervision

Your role as a teaching assistant is usually to work under the direction of the teacher. This can be as follows:

  • in the whole class
  • on your own with a small group of students or an individual
  • on your own with a larger group

This means you will be responsible for supervising students. To do this successfully you will need to know the school's behavior management policy and what approaches the teachers use to deal with any students who misbehave. Also, if you are supervising students with special educational needs you should know:

  • what these needs
  • are how to manage them
  • how to help these pupils access the curriculum

Make sure you have a copy of the school's behavior management policy. Read it and then give some practical examples in your Student book (26) of how it applies to the students you supervise.

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MODULE 4F- Task 8: Supervising the pupils

Take some time to talk with the special needs coordinator in your school (if you have one) and ask for some practical advice on how to support a particular group of students with special educational needs.

The next time you work with these students apply the advice you've been given, with the permission of your class teacher, and see if it improves the quality of your supervision. Have a review meeting with the special needs coordinator after the session to discuss what worked, what didn't and how you can build on what you've learned from the experience.

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MODULE 4G- Activity 23: Supervising classes

Some schools have taken the view that they don't get good value or needed disciplinary skills from the substitute teachers they hire. They may hire a substitute and ask you to supervise classes as a team. They may even request that teaching assistants take the place of substitute teachers if the district can't find enough temporary personnel. The benefits for the schools of doing this are:

  • the teaching assistants know the students
  • the teaching assistants are familiar with the work the students are studying
  • the teaching assistants know the school's policies and procedures it maintains continuity
  • it saves money that can be spent on other resources

However, it must be said that this is not something that should ever be universally endorsed or practiced.

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MODULE 4H- Activity 24: Administration

Reducing teacher workload is a key role for teaching assistants. Teachers on average spend 20 percent of their time on administrative tasks such as taking registers, photocopying worksheets and preparing classrooms before lessons. This time can be better spent actually teaching students.

Use your Student book (27) to note the administrative tasks currently done by the class teacher that you could do.

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MODULE4I Activity 25: Communicating with other teaching assistants

Many teaching assistants work part-time. This can make it hard to meet up with other teaching assistants to share experiences and good practice. Lack of communication with others can also make you feel you are not a proper member of the staff team. This situation can be improved by:

  • the school organizing regular meetings at times that are convenient for teaching assistants to attend
  • establishing ways for teaching assistants to share information about pupils with each other
  • arranging for a senior teaching assistant to act as a mentor to new colleagues
  • forming teaching assistant support groups
  • having a notice board for teaching assistants in the staff room
  • inviting teaching assistants to attend and take part in school functions

In your Student book (28), make a note of any other ideas that can help reduce a feeling of isolation for teaching assistants.

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MODULE4J Activity 26: Communicating with parents

As a teaching assistant, you probably already realize that your job involves more than just working in a classroom with the students. A good education is the result of a partnership between the school, the student and the student's parents. But some parents find schools intimidating places. They can be reluctant to speak to the teachers, especially if they know their child is having learning or behavioral difficulties.

Teaching assistants, who are usually from the local community served by the school, are likely to be seen by parents as being easier to talk to than the teachers. You can build on this and play a vital role in providing a link between the school and the home.

Your school will almost certainly have procedures in place to cover these meetings, which you should follow. You will certainly need to take a professional approach at all times and be friendly, but not over-familiar. There are, however, some common dangers and pitfalls that can easily be avoided. Bearing this in mind, use your Student book (29) to answer these questions:

  • What do you do if the parents of a student you're supporting feel that the class teacher is unsympathetic to their child and tell this to you in confidence?
  • How can a bilingual teaching assistant who speaks the home language of many of the students at the school use this skill to improve communication between the school and the local community?
  • Why is it important, if you're supporting a student with special educational needs, to keep in regular contact with the parents?
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MODULE 4K- What have you learned? Evaluation of your learning from Module 4

Now look again at the intended learning outcomes for Module 4.

By the end of this module you should have a clear understanding of the importance of:

  • supporting the school
  • communicating with other staff
  • supervising students
  • reducing teachers' workload
  • communicating with colleagues
  • communicating with parents

How much has this course helped you to achieve these outcomes? Make a note in your Student book (30) and e-mail your comments to your instructor.

MODULE 4L- Congratulations

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RESOURCES

Resource 1: Supporting the school

There are many ways in which you, as a teaching assistant, can help the school deliver a high quality of education to its pupils.

You may be asked to:

  • work with school refusers
  • be involved in liaison between different school phases
  • provide literacy and numeracy support
  • be involved with behavior management
  • organize life skills sessions
  • liaise with parents
  • use bilingual skills
  • work with gifted and talented pupils
  • supervise study groups
  • provide support with school administration
  • order and monitor use of stock
  • provide first aid
  • maintain school records
  • be a mentor for other teaching assistants
  • organize teaching materials and equipment

Resource 2: Click here to download

Resource 3: Click here to download

Resource 4: Click here to download

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Resource 5: Four strategies

1. Time management

  • Make it very clear to the students how long they have to complete each task you have set them. This helps them keep focused and interested.
  • Keep reminding them of how much time they have left as this creates a sense of urgency.
  • You may even want to have an egg timer or large clock with you to make the point in a visual way. Students enjoy this and see it as a challenge and will concentrate on finishing the task rather than on wasting time.

2. Make supportive comments and give constructive criticism

  • Students need to know that you care about the work they are doing. By giving them positive feedback you not only show them how to overcome any problems but also let them see that you are actively checking what they are doing.
  • Critical comments are vital if students are to improve the quality of their work, but they need to be made constructively and in a friendly, encouraging tone of voice.

3. Be flexible

  • Even though you will have planned carefully what you want the students to do, be ready to make adjustments to suit the situation.
  • Students need to be in the right frame of mind before they can concentrate, so if, eg, they arrive in your group clearly upset from a playground incident then take a few moments to calm them down before launching into your activity.

4. Establish your routine

  • Students like to feel secure so let them know exactly how you want them to behave and work in your group, e.g., they sit down quietly at the start of the session, only one person speaks at a time, they tidy up at the end of each session.
  • Once you have established your routine stick to it

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Resource 6: Click here to download

Resource 7: Click here to download

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Resource 8: A confrontation

Part 1

Teaching assistant: Sally, you're not to pinch Rachel. Please come and sit next to me.
Sally: [starts to cry] I didn't hurt her. It was just a joke.
Teaching assistant: Now Sally, please don't cry. But I can't let you hurt people.
Sally: [crying bitterly] I didn't do nothing. It's not fair. You're always picking on me.
Teaching assistant: Sally calm down. Please. I'm not picking on you. Come on … Look, here's a tissue. You don't have to sit by me but you mustn't pinch Rachel again, alright?
Sally: Whatever.

Part 2

Teaching assistant: Sally, you're not to pinch Rachel. Please come and sit next to me.
Sally: [starts to cry] I didn't hurt her. It was just a joke.
Teaching assistant: Now Sally I can see you're not happy. I know you don't want to have to sit next to me. But you chose to pinch Rachael so you've chosen to sit next to me.
Sally: [crying bitterly] I didn't do nothing. It's not fair. You're always picking on me.
Teaching assistant: We'll talk about this later when you're calmer Sally. But for now please come and sit next to me.
Sally: [still tearfully] Alright. Teaching assistant That's better. Now let's get on.

Resource 9: A discussion

Teacher: Oh Jane, tomorrow I'd like you to work with Katie, Zakir, James and Frank to see how well they know their colors.
Teaching assistant: Right. I could talk to them about colors first and show them that book about Noah and the ark. It's got a lovely picture of a rainbow in it.
Teacher: Yes. OK. The scheme of work has some suggestions for resources you could use. You could also use some of the colored blocks and counters from the supply room.
Teaching assistant: All right. Then, would it be a good idea if I get them to draw pictures and ask them to make the sun yellow, the grass green and so on? Teacher: Yes of course. They can use the coloring pencils and crayons from the art area but don't let them use the paints because we haven't got the aprons yet. They should be here by next week so we can start doing some painting then. All right?
Teaching assistant: No problem. I'll get everything ready at lunchtime so we can start as soon as you've done the register.

Resource 10: Click here to download

Resource 11: Click here to download

Resource 12: Click here to download

Resource 13: Click here to download

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Resource 14: A pre-observation discussion

Scene – a meeting between a teaching assistant and the class teacher to plan an observation session.

Teacher: Jane, I wonder if you can help me? I want the class to work in groups tomorrow morning to make their models of log cabins. But the thing is I need to know how well Green group are able to work together when they think I'm busy with the others. So what I want you to do is observe how they actually go about the task.

TA: You'd like me to work with them?

Teacher: No. They tend to be fine when an adult's with them but I want to see how they cope on their own. If you could sit near them, but don't intervene, then you'll be in a position to see how they manage.

TA: So what exactly do you want me to look out for?

Teacher: Well, are they all actively involved in the task? Do they discuss ideas on how they're going to make their model? Do they actually listen to each other? Who takes the lead? Who doesn't say anything? How well organized are they? Do they take pride in what they're doing? Do they all show commitment to getting the job done? How do they decide if they've been successful?

TA: Hmm! I think I'll need to make a note of all those questions.

Teacher: Good idea. Actually, it would be really useful if you could put them onto a form and I can keep it as part of my records on the children.

TA: Okay. It shouldn't take me very long.

Teacher: Look, why don't you use the computer to do it while I take the class to assembly? Then I'll be back and we'll have a look at it together and add anything we've missed.

TA: Okay.

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REFERENCES

Name: Primary Resources Description:

This site has an enormous number of lesson plans, activities, ideas and worksheets for primary pupils. It's very useful for teaching assistants who have to prepare good quality worksheets in a hurry.

URL: http://www.primaryresources.co.uk

Name: Schoolzone Description: This huge site contains over 40,000 free resources. URL: http://www.education.com/worksheets/high-school/

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DEFINITIONS

Pastoral support:

A planned intervention to help students manage their behavior more effectively.

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REFERENCES


Name: Howard Gardner
Description: This is a site dedicated to the research and work of Gardner
URL: https://howardgardner.com

Name: EdWeb
Description:Exploring Technology and School Reform. This American site by Andy Carvin includes a discussion of intelligence in education.
URL: http://edwebproject.org/edref.mi.histschl.html

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

Author: Bull, S and Solity, J

Title: Classroom Management: Principles to Practice (1993)

Publisher: Croom Helm ISBN: 0709950675


Author: DfES

Title: Working with teaching assistants – a good practice guide (2001)

Publisher: DfES

ISBN: DfES/0600/2001


Author: Lorenz, Stephanie

Title: Effective in-class support: the management of support staff in mainstream and special schools (Resource books for teachers)

Publisher: David Fulton Publishers

ISBN: 1853465054


Author: Lucas, A F

Title: Using psychological models to understand student motivation. In M. D. Svinicki (ed.), New directions for teaching and learning

Publisher: Jossey-Bass

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