Tips for Improving the Role of Teaching Assistant

Teaching Assistant (TA) is a delightful job if you like working with children. The working hours and holidays are ideal if you have children of school age yourself. The salary is good and you can even get part-time jobs. Prospects too can be attractive with the opportunity to specialise in special educational needs (SEN) or go on to be a higher level TA. Here are some things teaching assistants can do to improve their role in the classroom.

In Class

The most important roles of a TA is to help with classroom management during lessons. When the teacher is busy working with a student, TA should answer students’ questions, assist students with their work, and give feedback or encouragement if necessary. While the teacher is giving instructions or lecturing, you can help maintain order by breaking up student conversations and minimizing distractions. You can also help when students form groups or move desks in between activities to shorten the amount of time these things take and thus ensure that students have more time to practice English. With a teaching assistant in the classroom, the primary instructor will not have to disrupt the flow of the lesson by trying to be in two places at once.

How They See You

It can be difficult to establish a good rapport with students because TAs are not “real” teachers in students’ eyes, or because TAs’ actual power is minimal. At the same time, you are in an excellent position to assist students who are struggling because you have more time to monitor them. For instance, the class clown who sits at the very back of the room and consistently interrupts may have little interest in the lesson, difficulty understanding the material, or just want some attention. Whatever the case may be, you can help by working with him one on one to keep him focused, answer questions, and obviously fulfill the need for attention without being disruptive to the rest of class. The student may still be reluctant to focus on the lesson material but will appreciate the teaching assistant’s attentiveness and the rest of the class will benefit by having the undivided and uninterrupted attention of the teacher. How students see you and your role in the classroom depends heavily on how you are treated by the teacher you assist. It is beneficial to talk about your responsibilities during particular lessons before heading into the classroom and to develop strong respectful working relationships with teachers.

Out Class

Depending on the teacher, a teaching assistant may be responsible for any number of tasks outside the classroom. Teaching assistants are commonly asked to mark papers and grade exams. You may be asked to create and edit worksheets, handouts, and exams and will most likely have to make copies of these items. You are free to express your ideas about lessons but they will not always be taken into consideration. The extent to which you are involved in any and all activities depends on who you are assisting and may vary from teacher to teacher within the same school. Remember that you are a teaching assistant and not a personal assistant so that you can remind your teachers of that if required.

Team Teaching

In an environment that encourages team teaching, you as a teaching assistant may, on occasion, have the opportunity to plan activities or entire lessons. This is especially common if you are a native English speaker teaching abroad with a non-native English speaker. In this situation, your activities should focus on pronunciation and speaking while your lesson plans should revolve around cultural topics such as holidays. When you are teaching, do not expect a full role reversal. While it would be nice for the other teacher to assist you, that is not always how things work out so you should be prepared to do everything on your own just in case.

Pros and Cons of Distance Learning

Nowadays, we can easily learn almost anything at any time through internet regardless where we are. Distance learning programs are taking the advantage of internet technology that enables us to acquire knowledge at a flexible schedule from any place as long as we have internet connection. While it seems that distance learning provides many benefits to its learners, it may carries some downsides which you should know so that you can take into consideration when deciding to take up a course through internet. Below are the pros and cons of distance learning that you should consider prior to taking a course.

Pros:

Flexibility. With distance learning courses, students can complete their course work from just about anywhere, provided there’s a computer and internet connection. This allows students to work when and where it is more convenient for them without having to squeeze in scheduled classes to an already busy life.

No commuting. Taking a course online can be one way to cut down on costly gas or public transportation. Since students can often work from home to complete their class assignments, both time and money are saved in cutting out the trips to and from class.

Various schools to choose. Even if you live in a community with few or no colleges distance learning allows you to choose from a wide variety of schools to complete your education. You may find online schools that specialize in your particular field or one that can provide a great general education. Either way, your options for education will be greatly expanded.

Affordable costs. Prices for online courses are generally cheaper than their on-campus counterparts and you won’t have to worry about commuting, moving or getting meal plans on campus, some additional benefits to learning from home.

Learn while working. As distance learning can usually be completed on your own schedule, it is much easier to complete distance learning courses while working than more traditional educational programs. Keeping your job gives you more income, experience and stability while completing your degree giving you less to worry about and more time to focus on your studies.

Cons:

Lack of social interaction. If the classroom environment is what you love most about learning you may want to take a step back and reconsider distance learning. You’ll likely get some interaction on chat rooms, discussion boards and through email, but the experience will be quite different than traditional courses.

Format isn’t ideal for all learners. Not everyone is an ideal candidate for online learning. If you know you have problems with motivation, procrastination and needs lots of individual attention from an instructor you may want to think long and hard before enrolling in an online learning program.

Some employers don’t accept online degrees. While a majority of employers will, there are some who still see a stigma attached to distance learning. Realize that your online degree may not be the ideal tool for some job fields or for future learning.

Requires adaptability to new technologies. If you’ve never been one to love working with technology you will probably get a lot less out of an online course than your more tech-savvy counterparts. Make sure you feel comfortable working with computers and with online programs before you sign up for a class.

Not all courses required to complete the degree may be offered online. It makes sense that more practical majors like nursing aren’t offered entirely online, after all, part of the degree is learning to work directly with patients. Find out all the requirements of your degree to see what may need to be completed offline.