After returning from Toulouse and running my one hour workshop there, I was then able to do the same with another one of our courses for Teaching Assistants here in Moscow. Initially, the plan was just for the workshop to involve the teaching assistants but due to time constraints we included the teachers into the session.
We started off discussing the secret teacher article that appeared recently in the Guardian, the article can be found here and the subsequent comment that came up on twitter.
The teachers were shocked at the twitter comment as most of them had pretty positive comments to make about the support they received when in class
There were equally positive comments coming from the teaching assistants:
I have always had huge respect for the work that teaching assistants do in schools. Most of the staff agreed with the comment that Fiona made here on twitter
So the session started off with the need for communications both verbally and also in writing. Providing the weeks plans for the TA important. If any adult is coming into a class to support a teacher, they need to know what is going to be taught, not just the activity but what the teacher wants the child to learn. I have seen teaching assistants in the past change an activity when it wasn’t working because they knew what the learning intention was.
Preparation and resource making was also an area we covered, this then led on to a very interesting discussion with the early years and key stage one group about acknowledging bilingualism, and should we have dual language vocabulary around the class. Due to the limited time the children have in Moscow within the school day to speak and use English, some believe that focusing on English is more important.
Another area that proved interesting was assessment and marking of children’s work. In the KS2 session a very lively debate ensued between two teachers about this. One believed that he had the experience so should mark the work, whilst another believed we should empower and respect the teaching assistants and they should be able to mark the work of the children that they have worked with. Personally, I believe this is an individual teacher’s professional judgement. However, I did point out that as the children are taught maths in Russian, there could be methodologies and other issues that an International teacher could miss. The Russian teaching assistant may spot something that the class teacher could miss. The debate will no doubt continue.
I did introduce everyone to the idea of using an observation sheet during sessions so the teacher could have permanent feedback on how the children coped in the lesson, we shall have to see if this is taken up. I also was able to show teachers the school podcast that I have developed. I think it is essential that the children get the chance to hear and listen to themselves speak and using this resource is a lovely chance for this. Their talk is also very easily to record and certainly something the teaching assistant could do for the teacher and children. Thankfully, quite a few of the staff seemed keen to try this out.
I had a lovely morning! I always enjoy exchanging ideas with education colleagues, and frequently come away from sessions with plenty of new ideas and a positive view of education, and not mention the wonderful people who work in it. Long may it continue