Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by teachK-12, Jul 17, 2008.
Jul 17, 2008
Do you value your teacher assistant and how much teaching do you let them do?
I never let my assistant teach. If she had to cover me for a meeting or something, I would give the kids independent work. She couldn't do the work herself, so I could not let her teach anything.
This year, I am getting a different assistant. My assistant last year was split between SEVEN teachers. I will share with 1 other teacher this year! I am SOO excited about this. I have not met my new assistant yet (she was just hired), but my friend on the interview commitee said she is awesome!
I would love to let her do something every now and then. And I would REALLY love it if she did a small math group pull out type thing daily. Maybe while I am teaching the class, she can teach 2 or 3 that are really struggling.
Yes! The teaching assistants in my school are required to be highly active within the classroom. They aren't supposed to be running copies all day, grading papers or putting up bulletin boards until after the kids have left. Last year was my first year and I found it very hard to include my t.a. (who was only in my room for 1 1/2 hrs/day and was often pulled out by another teacher) in the teaching part. We finally nailed a schedule down of what she would be doing. This year I'm going to have a full time t.a because I have the inclusion class. I've been brainstorming all summer things she will be doing within the classroom.
We often had to attend an hour workshop here and there and our t.a. would cover our class. I also was sent home several times last year (I was sick and being stubborn) and the t.a. would cover my class.
It depends. I had a t.a. that didn't do anything but chit chat with the kids. I had to report her several times. But a teacher across the hall who was amazing. She covered my class a couple of times and did a great job teaching.
Our school is the same. The assistants are constantly pulling groups and doing lessons with them. As a first grade teacher last year, I had a full time assistant. She was great! She did small groups while I did small groups. If I needed to leave the room, she could take right over. A lot of times when I had a sub, she would do most of the teaching, because she was more comfortable doing so and knew how things were run in the room.
Going back to second grade, I will only have an assistant part of the day, but would definitely feel comfortable if I needed her to take over if needed.
In the past I had my TA do morning circle (it was my prep but I stayed in the classroom) and she ran a center for me during centers. If I had a meeting, I would leave her a whole group activity to do with the students.
This year I had child care counsellors who were there to help with my students' behaviors. They refused to run a center, they would not photocopy, wipe off the white board, put away a crayons, neaten any centers, pick up a dropped book... They did help them when I gave out assignments and the students were working independently -- but having 6 grades in one class, they had no choice b/c if the students weren't helped we would have major behaviors. If they had nothing to do because the students were well behaved or able to work independently they would just sit and chat with each other, play on the computer...
Our educational assistants are expected to take a very active role in the classroom; they are there to help support students academically. The year before last, I had an absolutely remarkable assistant who, literally, taught half of my program (I taught one group in my room while she taught the other have of the group next door). This year, she worked worked with a grade 7/8 classroom and often pulled small groups to help reteach or reinforce concepts. At the other end of the spectrum, we have assistants who take no initiative or direction and do next to nothing. Unfortunately, those are the ones with the most seniority so we may lose our most skillful assistant next year.
Our TAs are supposed to be active, too. But when you only get one 2 hours per week and they don't understand the material... Well.... There is not a lot you can do.
I set her up with a student who was really low. I purposely chose something easy to work with her with (as opposed to fractions, measurement, geometry, etc...). I gave her ordering decimals (tile game) to work with the student with. She did not know how to do it.
At my school, TAs aren't allowed to teach the class...and where I'm student teaching at right now, TAs aren't allowed in the classroom with students unless a credentialed teacher is in there! And that goes for me, too--I don't have my credential yet, so if my master teacher isn't in the room, I can't be, either. Feels very strange, since I have my own class (at a private school) during the regular school year.
Where I work, I'm the only one that can be teaching lessons. My TA can grade papers, prep materials, work with small groups, and circulate among students, but she can't actually teach the lesson. So she does what she's allowed to do--and that in itself is a tremendous help.
Our TAs are required to have at least 90 college credit hours.
We don't just have plain ole TA's. Ours are very specifically for Special Ed. They have assigned duties -- such as carrying out small group lessons (from lesson plans made by the Sped or Classroom teacher,) reading assignments, transcribing writing, etc.
Other TA's are there to service one and only one student (our more severely autistic students who are in a special program.) Their duties include restraint and removal from the general ed classroom when needed, making the million little accommodations that must be made "on the fly" each day, etc. Now most of them stick totally to this role, but one or two like to teach small group and will ask to do so, with their student included in that group. It is up to the classroom teacher whether or not that happens.
Our T.A. for Elementary teach some. Some follow lessons. Some do busy work. I created many lessons based on a concept. All of us, except one TA, has at least a BA degree. All of us do small groups daily and/or some kind of center work. Usually it is whatever the teacher puts forth. Other TAs in our school (middle & high school and their corresponding special needs departments as well as the specials departments) all have different types of TAs. That changes things as well.
Having said all that.... I LOVED creating lessons, running small groups and I had 2 of my own centers I created for. Despite my obvious enthusiasm for all of that, I feel we are overused in this department. Because so much of it is done unplanned, even if the TA isn't creating, it means that plans have to be changed and dropped so often and it FULLY interrupts with how efficiently the teacher is following the curriculum.
Bottom line, TA can do a lot if they have the skills for it, but they should not be used as in house subs WHILE the teacher is there. That sets up a situation that can make things become a little too lax and that doesn't help the students.
:2up: I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE my TA and she is a GREAT teacher. She has her MBA and is better in math than I am . I always let her work with small groups, and she does a great job. She also helped me design a unit on Japan this last year (she is Japanese) and taught the kids to speak simple phrases, make kanji symbols, play Japanese games and make origami. She is wonderful!! She is also far better organized than I am, and checks all the math papers (mad minutes especially) and is very thorough with their work and making them go back and fix it.
Nothing is better than a GOOD TA!
--a lot of teachers use their TAs to make copies and cut things out, watch the kids at recess, etc. I always try to utilize my TAs strengths. When I had another TA, she did the art with the kids because she is really crafty and could plan it and it made her feel helpful. I do like a TA who can handle the academics though, as it is a real help where I need it.
I am a TA, and I teach the Algebra 2 and the social sciences classes. I don't "assist," but I teach the classes. I create the curriculum, grade the papers, and turn in the grades to the lead teacher. Most of the time the lead teachers just leave me alone because they either can't do the work (Algebra 2) or my lessons just seem to go over better than theirs (Social sciences). I've had my failures teaching other classes before (who hasn't?) but over all, I am a very effective teacher.
I also seem to be the class disciplinarian. The kids listen to me, usually, and usually know better than to try to pull the wool over my eyes. They think I am too strict, but they quickly learn to fall in line, and usually enjoy the rest of the year.
To be fair, I do have a Bachelor's degree, and am working on my Masters. I originally wanted to be a teacher, but changed my mind because I didn't really want to spend so much time doing all the paperwork that comes with Spec. Ed. Being a TA at my job is the best of both worlds for me for now. I get to teach, and I don't have to do the paperwork. Of course, I don't get the pay either, but that is to be expected.
I have my TA pull small groups or take a student for 1 on 1 tutoring. I think at the beginning of the year I may have her do some assessments until I see who needs more practice/help. She doesn't ever teach lessons to a class and usually I give her the materials to work with small groups. I would be willing to let her take the lead with the small groups if she was interested.
Jul 18, 2008
I am a former T.A. turned Teacher, the school I worked in wanted all the T.A.s to be utilized to the fullest. The principal told us if we weren't to see him and he would make sure we were. My duties including pulling a small group for Word Journeys (Spelling), teaching Handwriting, observing and checking progress while students were at centers, and helping the teacher check student's writing and math. Being utilizied in the classroom helped me get through college and obtain my Teaching Degree. When the Teacher was out, I always subbed for her until she went on maternity leave and there had to be a certified teacher to fill in for her. Which was funny since I was the one showing him how things were done in our class but that's a whole different story in itself.
This coming school year, I will have to share my T.A. with 3 other teachers but from my understanding she is a wonderful T.A. and will be utilized while she is in my class.
MissFroggy..are we sharing the same assistant?! I couldn't teach my SPED without her and she can teach anything! She also LOVES doing bulletin boards (not my favorite activity). She is the teacher in charge for me when I am out and the hired sub just sits back and helps. She is the best!!!
As a TA, that's exactly what I like to hear!
I don't mind doing the work, particularly if I'm good at it or have a strength in it. The biggest key is to always COMMUNICATE. This means communicate whether things are still working harmoniously but also to make sure you are on the same page work wise too.
I think I would have felt better about those 3 months had I had more communication regarding what skills REALLY needed to be taught and when. While I am fantastic at it, making things up on the fly constantly was not my cup of tea BECAUSE I knew it wasn't in the best interest of the students. Otherwise, I have a ton of fun.
One week I had all their work displayed all over the hall because I was so excited about it. We practiced vocabuary by popping balloons and finding the words inside theme. We grew a garden in a trashcan for the classroom rats, predicted what their response would be and so forth. We gave the rats a bath and wrote a book about it. We color coded different parts of the story on the smart board. We played a new phonics board game (a big deal in a classroom that doesn't use phonics). We used bubbles to teach vocabulary. We discovered that playing in the dark was fun because the smartboard becomes a neon writing pad on the black screen (end of powerpoint). We read stories. We held a class store to practice money. We read books from www.starfall.com and then we used the adjectives and action word games to start lessons/webs/etc to apply to writing. We did a ton of things. It was fun. They definitely learned a lot. But I believe that 3 months of randomly making stuff up doesn't help ensure they met the goals for the year.
I guess my point is only this: I LOVE LOVE LOVE teaching. I love it when I get to be sub for the day. I love my centers. I love it all. I just caution teachers from overusing them when they are still in the building IF IF IF they aren't fullying communicating.
All of you are too dedicated for that.
One more thing, not all T.A. even WANT to be considered for academics. They consider that the "teacher's job." So the perceptions and expectations go both ways and communication (again) is crucial. A good team is WONDERFUL!!!
Wish I could have a T.A. even though my kids are identified gifted and talented. I still have kids who could use extra help writting their letters, math, and reading. The other teachers get the T.A.'s because their kid's needs are greater than my kids and I fully understand that. It would just be nice to have an extra pair of hands.
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