How to Work With a Teacher’s Aide?
Although calling someone a teacher’s aide has become slightly frowned upon, preferring the term teacher’s assistant, the job is still the same. It is one of the most important jobs in the whole education system.
In a school where parents demand for children to be socially brought up as much as educated, the teacher alone can't pull that double duty. This is where the aide comes into place.
It is the right hand of the teacher that assists in three very important fields:
- Facilitating communication
- Assisting troubled students
- Monitoring troublesome students
By covering these fields they allow the teacher to focus on the education and passing the curriculum plan as intended.
Finally, with good communication and cooperation with your teaching assistant, you will not only optimize your teaching and reduce job stress, but also give a great example to the students on how cooperation can be done.
Role of the Teacher’s Aide and Assistant
The fact that the teacher's aide is not a teacher doesn't mean that they are in any way lesser in the classroom. In many cases, a well-trained TA will have a skill set that can't be matched by a teacher, as it will focus on different fields.
But they would also lack the experience and expertise to lecture the students. This is why both are necessary.
The role of the TA is to support the class in the places where the teacher can’t. If some students have problems, both educational and emotional, they can be assisted by the teacher’s aide and thus won’t halt the entire class by taking the time from the lecture.
Best Practice for Cooperation with Your Teacher’s Aide
The biggest issues that come between teachers and aids are due to miscommunication. In many cases, the TA will be rather young and the teacher won't be used to having another adult in the class.
Such disconnect will, at some point, seem like disrespect. Once that happens there is no chance of recovering that working relationship. So you need to do everything in your power not to come to that.
As a teacher, you need to pass any ideas of uncertainty and not treat your assistant as a servant. They are there to cover your inability to be in two places at once and do two hours of work per hour, so until you ascend to divinity you will need their help dearly.
#1 Establish Good Communication
While this is easier said than done, there is no perfect handbook on how to communicate with people. Some people will click immediately and pass this point with zero issues, while others will just don’t see eye to eye.
The only solution is to approach this relationship calmly. Explain all of your positions and get to know how your assistant is thinking. Make sure not to conduct an interview, because they already have a job, but to establish an exchange of ideas.
Ask them about their strengths, and where they might not feel comfortable. Also, elaborate on what type of help you most often need in the classroom. This is the best way to learn about what two (or more) of you can do for each other.
#2 Play on Each Other’s Strengths
Nobody is omnipotent. We each have our strengths and weaknesses, and many abilities that fall somewhere in between. This is where teamwork comes in handy as you can complement your strengths with those of your TA.
You might be a great math teacher, but not good with language, and your TA might be a multilingual person with high empathy that can easily communicate with students. Let them ‘translate’ what you are saying to students that otherwise wouldn’t understand.
This isn't only for different languages, but also different speech. Even when everyone is speaking English, different backgrounds and education will often cause misunderstandings. Use your TA to cover where you can't and help those that need it the most.
Then you can focus on leading the class from the front, while they push from the back.
#3 Make some Ground Rules
While your TA will very often become a very good friend, in class it is still a working relationship. And as such, some ground rules need to exist so that everyone is comfortable.
When discussing strengths, you should also discuss some boundaries that can be either personal or professional. Usually, some things like publicly second-guessing and diminishing someone's authority should be out of the question.
But there can also be personal moments that some people might find grossly offensive, while seem casual for others. Discuss these ‘’triggers’’ with your TA beforehand and agree to accept everything someone mentions beforehand.
This will also remove the possibility of post-festum offense that often happens today because of different cultural backgrounds.
#4 Share Your Resources
Unless you are wealthy, there will rarely be financial funds you might have in excess to share. This means the teaching resources you have acquired over the years or made for this class in particular.
This can include your teacher’s daily diary, visual and media aids, or any notes that you might have.
Also, because many TAs want to become teachers themselves in the future, this will greatly help them in that path. And it will help you in organizing your class.
#5 Work in Turns
Although working in education is very fulfilling, it can also be very stressful. Keeping center stage and carrying the whole class day after day is exhausting and you should split that burden with your aids.
Let them present your materials while you observe the class. They can also assist their focus students in presenting what they have learned or in simple communication with the class.
Such an action will be very beneficial for everyone, including yourself, your students, and the teacher’s aide themselves.
Having a teacher's aide is not only beneficial but in modern education systems, it can be rather necessary. Otherwise, it will be practically impossible to include all of the students, answer to their particular needs, and still, keep the curriculum going year after year.
A good teacher is the one who can communicate with their aids, figure out each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and work as a team to make the best results.
Those who succeed will not only see an improvement in how their students are learning and behaving but also in their own quality of life and work as they get some much-needed assistance in their corner.