The greatest contribution made by teaching assistants is to children’s learning when they are working with groups of children under the management of the teacher. Teaching assistants may alternate between being a support for the whole class to being specifically involved with individual or small groups of children. To ensure a teaching assistant is able to support in the most effective way it is vital that they are well briefed. Teaching assistants should have access to Literacy and Numeracy planning for the week first thing on a Monday morning (or before) to ensure they are clear about the following; * the learning objectives for the lesson,
* the role of the teaching assistant in reaching those objectives, * the group or individual that the teaching assistant will be supporting. * The key vocabulary that is to be developed or used during the lesson * Appropriate methods or approaches e.g. written calculations. * Effective use of questioning.
* Clear expectations of outcomes for the lesson.
It is vital that there is regular dialogue between the class teacher and the teaching assistant before the lesson to prepare and after the lesson to share assessments and feedback. The teaching assistant who is briefed as to what their role is in a lesson is far more likely to make a positive impact upon teaching and learning. It is important that teaching assistants give feedback to the teacher regarding progress made or difficulties encountered by children during the lesson so that planning for the next day can be modified. The presence of a teaching assistant in a class will make it possible for the teacher to plan more exciting and challenging activities. Assessments of individual children’s ability and skills can give teaching staff valuable information on which to base future planning. Teaching assistants can also play an important role in improving attention of children who find it difficult to stay on task enabling them to become better learners by acting as prompters. Teaching assistants can also have a positive impact upon behaviour, supporting children who may otherwise have been withdrawn and therefore promoting inclusion. The role of the teacher in planning and organizing for pupils’ progression has changed considerably over the past twenty years. While the teacher once had much more control and decision regarding both curriculum and how that curriculum was implemented, national standards now guide both local authorities (LEAs) and individual teachers in their planning and organisation (Bage, Grosvernor and Williams 1999).
This has produced both benefits and drawbacks. Many teachers plan more thoroughly and a standardisation has occurred from school to school and class to class through the national guidelines. The National Curriculum is divided into teachable segments, with teachers responsible for planning and teaching each segment in a way best suited to their students and teaching style (DfES 2005). However, government and educational authorities often advocate teachers produce linear, formulaic lesson plans and student progress plans, in which pre-ordained objectives for children’s learning are dominant (Bage, Grosvernor and Williams 1999, 50).
Teachers need to allow for flexibility in their planning, so they can respond to the children’s interests and any unpredicted learning needs presenting during the lesson. How an individual teacher plans and responds to pupils during a lesson, therefore, is and should be variable. Bage, Grosvernor, and Williams, in their study of primary teacher’s planning and the National Curriculum, found teacher planning remains a complex, variable and necessarily individualised activity (1999, 49).
As the DfES Special Educational Needs Code of Practice acknowledges, At the heart of the work of every primary school class is a continuous cycle of planning, teaching and assessing which...