Ever since I became a teacher back in 1999 I have become fully aware of the value of teaching assistants. Without them in class I really do not think teachers could survive, especially as mainstream schools now have more children with specialised learning needs. However; even without inclusion issues, where on earth would a busy classroom teacher be without a teaching assistant when a young child suddenly becomes ill or distressed? It is often the quick thinking and supportive teaching assistant who often rushes to help. As someone who has recently worked as a supply teacher I have appreciated their presence even more. I won’t spend too long on the discussion about teaching assistant roles be they female or male (Yes Mr Gove there are quite a few men working as TAs too!) For an excellent article on this issue I suggest you read this post by Cherryl http://cherrylkd.wordpress.com/2013/06/08/letter-to-mr-gove-re-teaching-assistants-please-rt/
In my last school I undertook a two year training programme for teaching assistants on using technology to help support the children they work with. These women and men took to the technology learning process with enthusiasm and style. Many a funny moment happened during the two years but watching a group of adults handling roamers in the same way the children did made me appreciate that age is not a barrier to learning. The two projects that appear below were handled by teaching assistants after they had learnt how to use the relevant resources and software.
The power point below was actually made by the children, a group of mixed ability year five students who were learning alongside their other classmates about sound. Initially I had taught everyone how to use the data logging equipment. After planning their science investigation, the children went off to run the experiment with the class teaching assistant offering support. When they returned to class they uploaded their results and discussed what had happened. I’m not quite sure who looked the most delighted the children or the teaching assistant. This work, along with other different work examples, was eventually shown at Southwark’s ICT in school’s event held at Southbank University
Earmuffs – their full presentation
Another piece of work that was made a few years after the above project, was the video below. It was made by two boys who each had a full statement of educational needs. They had learnt alongside their peers and teaching assistant how to use photostory3 and they went on to make a lovely video about Jack’s lost tooth. As they had an assistant working with them every day, they were able to leave the class and go with her to make the video. Their delight when they presented the work to the rest of the class is pretty hard to describe but not something I will forget in a hurry.
The clip appears here a very easy piece of software which gave these children the chance to shine and have a sense of achievement, the TA was pretty thrilled too! Technology is there for all to harness no matter what our age or learning needs, lets make sure we give everyone the chance to use it. After reading Cherryl’s article I suddenly realised that I have many more examples of teaching assistants using technology to support children, just have to now track them down on the hard drive – oh dear!
If you are interested in good quality training for your teaching assistants then check out our current course for supply teaching staff.