It is essential to establish respectful and professional relationships with children and young people in the role of Teaching Assistant. There are certain strategies which enable such a valued and trusted relationship be established. A relationship in which a child trusts and respects their TA and feels comfortable in their company, allows the TA to offer a supportive and caring environment in which the child can learn and develop.
Listening is arguably the most important way in which to establish a respectful and professional relationship with a child or young person. By a TA listening to what a child has to say, without interruption, conveys to the child that the TA in interested in and values what the child has to say. By not interrupting the child, it shows that their views and opinions are not only respected by the TA, but are also as important as the views and opinions of the TA themselves. The TA should also take an active interest in what the child has to say and an interest in the child themselves. For example, what are their hobbies, their interests, their likes and dislikes? When talking with, or listening to children, the TA should maintain eye contact, concentrate on what the child is saying and physically lower themselves to the child’s level, thus giving the child the same respect that they would give to another adult. This shows the child that they are considered an equal by the TA.
Children respond to routine and rules and should be made aware of what the rules are and the consequences of breaking rules. By doing this, it enables the TA to explain to the child that the punishment they have received for breaking a rule ‘is fair’. Fairness helps to establish respectful relationships. Children are very aware of the concept of fairness and the statement ‘it’s not fair’ is often heard within the classroom. Another way of showing ‘fairness’ in response to a rule break, is giving the child an opportunity to explain. Allowing a child to explain their version of events shows that the TA is willing to listen to what the child has to say. The TA should then explain why they believe a rule has been broken and the necessary punishment. The TA should always adhere to the schools behavior policy and follow through with punishments. By doing this, the TA communicates that there are consequences to the decisions children make and that the punishment is ‘fair’ in regards to the rule break. It is important for the TA to be consistent in such situations. For example, if two children were to break the same rule it would be ‘unfair’ to allow one to go unpunished, yet punishes the second child. This would result in a lack of respect from the children. Likewise, it would be ‘unfair’ if a TA was to show favoritism. For example, if a TA was to allow their favorites to ‘get away with’ things that they would punish other children for; this is ‘unfair’. Ultimately, the relationship that a TA wants to establish with all the children is one of trust and respect. A relationship like this can not be created if a TA is unfair, inconsistent or shows favoritism.
A TA should make an effort to learn all children’s names, how to pronounce them and also how to spell them. Again, this shows the child that the TA has taken a personal interest in them.
On a professional level, it is very important to remember a child’s name. In the case of an emergency, i.e. a fire, it is necessary to know all of the children in the class and be able to put a name to a face in order to ensure the safety of the children. Not knowing a child’s name can hinder the amount of effective communication that you can have with that child (as shown in my own personal reflection.) It also poses a problem when the TA needs to gain the attention of that child. For example, the child may need to be given an instruction or called...