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Do we need Teacher Assistants across all primary classes?

In my years of teaching, I cannot underestimate the importance of Teacher Assistants. Having taught in a school where it is not practiced, I have always known that the knowledge being passed on would have a higher percentage of success if there were a teacher assistant in each of those classrooms. It is even somewhat ludicrous to see how effective teaching and learning in primary schools can be without teacher assistants especially in Lower Primary classes from grades 1 - 3.

Cutting edge schools that are applying effective modern practices have chosen to employ increasing numbers of Teacher Assistants. The reason is to support the delivery of quality teaching and a modern curriculum. It is encouraging to note the ample evidence from research and inspection that many teacher assistants are helping to raise standards in the classrooms in which they work.

The essence of the successful deployment of these assistants lies in the nature of the support that they can provide. They include:

• support for the pupil

• support for the teacher

• support for the curriculum

• support for the school.

Teacher Assistants help to:

  • Support classroom management and assist with general administration
  • Help manage pupil behaviour.
  • Support pupils’ health, safety and emotional/ social development.
  • Establish relationships with learners.
  • Help pupils to access the curriculum.
  • Support the development and effectiveness of work teams.
  • Work with other professionals
  • Liaise effectively with parents

The essence of the job is supporting children to learn under the guidance of a teacher. The sort of tasks will vary from school to school and even from teacher to teacher depending upon the needs of individual pupils and /or classes. The tasks could therefore include:
  • Supporting small groups in the classroom – especially literacy and numeracy. This is done to reach all weak students and to ensure understanding of all concepts taught
  • Working with individuals or small groups outside the classroom when appropriate. This includes ensuring safety in classes.
  • Preparing and modifying learning materials
  • Supporting individuals to keep attention on the lesson – monitoring behaviour to help keep them “on task”.
     There you go! How can we "really" teach effectively without Teacher Assistants? Keeping it real.


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