Six suggestions to help first-time supply teaching assistants


The role of a teaching assistant is to help support the teacher with teaching and learning or manage classroom behaviour. During recent years, teaching assistants have become more important and to help you prepare for your challenging first day, we have created the following useful suggestions.


Be enthusiastic Students are very aware of what is going on around them and they are likely to respond in a negative way if they sense you think a particular task is pointless or not interesting. Being passionate about everything you are involved with makes it easier for other people to work with you whether its staff of students.


Get involved in the lesson Make yourself useful by supporting when it is needed. If a teacher is presenting a topic, help by minimising disruption by following the positive behaviour policy and keep the class on track if you notice any distractions. Once a task is underway, make sure you get involved by going round the class and reinforce the learning methods the teacher has demonstrated to provide extra support to those that need it.


There are usually white boards and pens nearby so use these to help when you explain tasks.


Learn students’ names This helps make a connection and provides personal attention. Students are more likely to respond positively to you as you interact with them. To establish your relationship more quickly, look on the computer system and see what the students look like as it helps put a face to a name.

Print off a seating plan so you can use it as a reference.


Carry a notebook There can be a lot to take in. Carry a notebook as it helps you remember information given last minute. For example, there may be a late timetable change.


Be flexible You may work with different teachers and pupils during the day so adapting to various learning styles will be important. For example, you may work one to one with a specific student for part of the day, then support group work at another.


During exam season, timetables change to accommodate GCSEs. You may be required to invigilate an exam or work with students that are not on your timetable.


Keep calm and patient As you are interacting with different people, some will be easier to work with than others. You may be supporting students that require additional assistance so be prepared to explain topics more than once and present it in different ways to help them grasp it.


If you are a teaching assistant looking for supply work, contact us today.

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