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TA Induction: For TAs new to St John's

This module has been designed to support your induction process as a Teaching Assistant new to St John's.

The module contains a range of activities for you to engage with over the course of Term 1 with approximately 30 minutes of online learning each week.

Term 1 will include one face to face session and 6 online sessions

All the materials can be accessed here.  Work through the activities at your own pace, but follow the chronological order presented.  

The materials are the property of, and copyrighted by, Bowden Education and must not be reproduced.

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Face to Face Session

This is introductory session will take place on 26th September 13.30 - 14.30 at St John's Primary School.

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In this session we will:

  • Explain the aims of this module

  • Explain the weekly release time

  • Demonstrate and explain how to access the online learning materials

  • Learn how to set up a GoogleDrive to use as your online professional development portfolio.

You were given a paper copy of the guides to access your online learning and to set up Google Drive at the face to face session.  You can  also access these below, should you need to:

Accessing online Learning

Setting up GoogleDrive

Introduction to Online Materials

Welcome to this online induction module, which we hope will familiarise you with St John’s and the expectations of teaching assistants within the school. 

 

Your headteacher has agreed to 30 minutes of development time each week in Term 1, during which you can complete the materials. 

 

If you are unsure of any of the activities or have any questions about the module, do contact us - we are very happy to answer questions!  Our email is educationbowden@gmail.com.

 

Each activity will be accompanied by a symbol which denotes whether you are expected to read/watch a video/access a website etc.  Here are the symbols to look out for:

 

 

We hope you enjoy this module and find it useful!

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Undertake an

activity

Read

Watch

Write

Listen

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Think

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Discuss

Session 1: St John's Mission and Values

It is important as a practitioner (in any school), to be aware of the mission and the values of the setting, so that we are able to apply these values to our own practice and promote them with everyone associated with the school community.

 

St John’s mission and values are:

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How do you see your role within this mission? 

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Download this PowerPoint. 

 

Slide 2 has the ‘living’ values of St John’s and Slide 3 the ‘learning’ values. 

 

Within each diagram, write an example (or more if you wish) of how you think you might promote these with your pupils.  An example has been provided. 

 

Upload the slides to your Google Drive Portfolio.

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Session 2: General Expectations of a TA at St John's

Job Description

We often find that, when we discuss with colleagues their working role, we are surprised by how different it might be to our own, even when the role has the same title! 

 

When we share our experiences about the ‘duties’ performed each day, the expectations, the support provided etc. we become aware that every class/school will have a different approach (to pretty much everything!!).

This is the absolute joy of education - the diversity and the fact that everyday is different and interesting. 

 

It is, however, also a major challenge, particularly when we are new to the role, and can sometimes lead us to wonder what is the ‘right’ approach in any given situation. 

 

What is so important is to keep lines of communication open and, if in doubt, ask others!  St John’s is a very supportive community and somebody will undoubtedly help you and give advice.

Often, once we start in a role, we no longer think about the original job description we would have read, before applying for a post. 

 

It is useful, however, to return to this periodically, and remind yourself of your own responsibilities. 

 

Revisit your job description now and consider these questions: 

  • What were your expectations when applying for the role and has the job lived up to these?

  • What are your employer’s expectations of you?

  • What can you legally be asked to do?

  • Is there work you do beyond this?

  • What might be termed ‘going above and beyond’?

 

If you are not sure about the answer to any of these questions, chat to colleagues within the school to gain confirmation.

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School Rules

To be a successful and effective TA, it is important to be very aware of the school rules, in order to promote them within the classroom and other areas of the setting.

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It is vital that we all adhere to the rules and are seen to uphold these in all situations and contexts. 

 

Children of all ages thrive on routine and knowing expectations and it is our job to be role models, living the rules and requirements of St John’s, so that children feel safe and know that there is a consistent approach.

 

  • Which do you think is the most important school rule (no right answer here!)?  

  • Why is this?  

  • What does it mean to you and what might it look like in practice?  

  • How might this school rule support a sense of community?

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The Behaviour Policy and its intended impact

Another key aspect of the role of a TA is to support the teacher in promoting appropriate behaviour. 

 

The starting point for this is the behaviour policy and it is vital that you are aware of what this entails.  

 

Click on this link to find the St John’s behaviour policy and take some time to read this through. 

This policy has recently been updated and you might want to compare it to the previous policy, to note any changes and discuss these with colleagues.

 

 

 

 

Have you seen any examples of the policy in action in either:

  • Whole class work

  • Small group work

  • Work with individuals?

 

 

 

 

It is vital that this behaviour policy is consistently applied.  Continue to observe the policy in action and make notes on its impact on children’s behaviour and learning.

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Session 3: Being Proactive in the Classroom

To get the most fulfilment from your role, it is important to feel that you are supporting the teacher and the children in an effective way. 

We all want to do a good job and feel that we make a difference - to be part of a happy, successful team. 

 

This can take time to achieve, so don’t worry if it all feels a little overwhelming at first. 

 

Allow yourself time to become familiar with St John’s, the children, staff, parents and everyone involved with the school community.

One of the key elements of your role is understanding what is expected of you and developing a strong relationship with the teacher/s you work with.  The following video - ‘The diverse role of the TA’ - shows TAs and teachers working together in different international schools and has short interview clips where they discuss their roles. 

 

It is so important to hear the perspectives of others who do a similar job, as it allows us to feel part of a global community - all doing our best to support young learners.  Watch the video below (it is only 11 minutes).  Once you have watched it, make notes on the questions beneath the video.

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​Questions:

  • Did anything surprise you about the roles of these TAs?

  • Did you notice any words that cropped up quite a lot?

  • What seemed to be the key messages?

For us, successful teamwork in the classroom is vital and here are words that we feel summarise this:

  • Flexibility - things often do not go to plan in classrooms - be prepared for this!

  • Diplomacy - developing strong relationships with children and adults takes time, patience and diplomacy

  • Cooperation - cooperating with others leads to strong teamwork

  • Communication - always keep lines of communication open, polite and honest

  • Collaboration - working effectively with others leads to a happy learning environment for all 

Use this template to record any similarities and differences between your first weeks at St John’s and those experiences discussed in the video clip. Return to this template each week of the first term or even up to Christmas, and continue noting similarities and differences.  Upload this to your Google Drive Portfolio.

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Being proactive in your role involves the following:

  • Observing

  • Recording

  • Reflecting

  • Responding

 

Click on the boxes below to find out more about these.

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The next session will look at leading effective group work and hopefully you will be able to take the ideas from this session into the next activities and into your work in the classroom.

If you would like to find out more about becoming effective in your role, there is a powerful article here, which listens to the voices of TAs and provides useful points to consider.

Session 4: Leading Effective Group Work

Leading effective group work can be quite challenging - keeping everyone involved, ensuring all children in the group have a voice, managing behaviour issues and working towards the learning objective/s - that is a lot to manage!

 

Listen to the short podcast below, where we are discussing our own experiences of leading group work and what we found worked best.

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Leading Group Work - Podcast

This article provides some useful advice. 

Some of the suggestions might be beyond your control, as the class teacher may make these decisions. 

However, there is plenty that you might be able to use, as you work with your groups across the curriculum.

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There are also some useful, practical ideas on this site

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Session 5: Strategies to discourage inappropriate behaviour.

Earlier in the module, we introduced the importance of the behaviour policy and adhering to this at all times.  You might want to return to the policy now, to refresh your memory.

 

Inappropriate behaviour can lead to children disrupting their own and others’ learning and can lead to a negative learning environment.  Your own and the teacher’s job is also made much more challenging if inappropriate behaviour occurs.

 

Download the table below, by clicking on the image. Make a list of what you consider to be minor incidents of inappropriate behaviour e.g. shouting out rather than raising a hand.

Make a list of what you consider to be major incidents of inappropriate behaviour e.g. swearing at a teacher.

Tick if you have experienced any of these and note how colleagues have responded. 

 

Keep returning to this table, each time you experience something different.

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Does the behaviour policy advise on how to manage these different types of behaviour? 

How confident do you feel to respond in an effective way?

 

Below are some suggestions which we hope will support you with responding to inappropriate behaviour.

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Tactical ignoring

Many inappropriate behaviours are very minor e.g. flicking an eraser across a desk or eye rolling when asked to do something!

 

Often it is better to tactically ignore, rather than make a big thing of it and risk changing a minor incident into something more confrontational.

 

  • Firstly, consider why the child is acting in this way

  • Secondly, is their behaviour disturbing others?

  • Thirdly, does the child appear to be listening and learning?

 

Sometimes, tactically ignoring works and here are some ideas for this:

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However, it is important that we do not ignore certain behaviours, for example:

  • If a child may hurt themselves or others

  • If a child is breaking the school rules

  • If a child is very anxious or distressed

  • If a child has experienced trauma

 

Getting to know the children in your class is the most important aspect of being a TA - knowing their interests and needs and developing strong relationships, based on mutual respect.

 

This will allow you to know how to respond to different behaviours. 

 

Try out some of our tactical ignoring strategies and see what happens!

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Acknowledging and reinforcing appropriate behaviour

Avoid using negative language - always try to switch your statement to be positive. 

 

The table below shows examples of this:

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Staying positive usually involves the use of praise. 

 

Praise can be a very powerful way to encourage appropriate behaviour, but it needs to be specific and relevant. 

 

Often in classrooms we hear, ‘Well done!  Good job!’ 

 

This is very positive but it is not providing the child with information about what it is they have done so well. 

 

Instead, you might say, ‘Well done Peter - I can see that you have labelled 2 of the angles on the triangle - great work!  Are you going to work out the 3rd angle now?  How will you go about this?’ 

 

In this way, the child knows what is going well, his self-esteem rises and he starts to think about next steps. 

 

Or, you might say to a child who struggles to sit and concentrate, ‘Well done Mia, you are sitting so well on the carpet today!  Let’s hope everyone follows what you are doing.’

Role modelling

It is vital that we always role model exemplary behaviour in all contexts of the school setting. 

 

Children look to us for guidance and they copy behaviours they see and hear. 

 

Ensuring that we are always polite, encouraging, positive, kind and honest will support children with their behaviour and attitudes towards others and their learning. 

 

If we can also take every opportunity possible to raise children’s self-esteem, then that too will promote positive behaviours.

The Jubilee Centre at the University of Birmingham has produced a Framework for Character Education and this lays out the virtues that we need to have as successful practitioners.  Click here to access this framework.

Take a look at The Building Blocks of Character.  You might want to take a screenshot of the blue diagram and upload it to your Google Drive Portfolio. 

 

Developing these virtues will support us as we promote kind, thoughtful behaviours and actions in our pupils.

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Session 6: Supporting Successful Playtimes

It is so important that children have positive, engaging playtimes. 

 

Different children like different activities, whether it be just chatting with friends, or skipping, ball games, practising dance routines etc. 

 

Our job is to know when support is needed or if we need to step in to ensure rules and appropriate behaviours are followed. 

 

Follow this link to an excellent blog which explains 5 ways to create a happy and positive lunchtime and playtime. 

 

You may also want to follow some of the links on the right side of the page (on the blog) - there is a great deal of useful information.

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Now go to a Padlet we have set up, where we encourage you to share your own ideas and read those of your colleagues. 

 

We have posted an idea, to get things going.

 

Padlets are brilliant to use with children in any lesson, to share ideas, collaborate, be creative and learn (you can set up a free Padlet account at www.padlet.com ) .

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You have now completed your St John’s induction module - well done!  We hope the activities have been useful and look forward to sharing more ideas in future modules!  

 

Good luck in your role!

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