Top 10 Tips For a New Teaching Assistant

Becoming a teaching assistant can be extremely rewarding, and is useful for getting you some experience in the classroom, but your new position might be intimidating if you’ve never worked in a classroom environment before, so we’ve put together some helpful tips that are going to help you get started!

1. Be friendly and approachable

It’s important to present yourself as someone that’s easily approachable, helpful and friendly when you’re working alongside children in any role so that they feel comfortable coming to you with any issues that they’re dealing with or help that they need, and remain comfortable in the classroom.

You should try and present yourself with a smile and try to be as helpful as possible. Even if something might seem tedious to you, it could be important for the children you’re working with. If children are comfortable with their teachers and TAs then they’re more likely to want to contribute in class and make your job easier.

2. Be flexible and willing to adapt your approach

Every child is different, so it’s important that you’re ready and willing to adapt your learning strategies for each of them. Get to know the children you’ll be working with beforehand by collaborating with the teacher and find out about any individual needs that you’ll need to accommodate.

You’re going to naturally discover the children’s personalities as you work alongside them, so don’t worry too much about knowing it all right away. Your approach should be evolving over time as you get to know your class and what suits everyone best, just make sure you’re centring your work around creating the best learning environment that you can.

3. Develop strong working relationships

Since your main role as a teaching assistant is to support the teacher(s) you’re working with and the teaching and learning of students, it’s smart to have a good relationship with your teacher that fosters a happy and effective learning environment for students.

If you’re coming in to work alongside a teacher you haven’t worked with before it’s best to figure out how they run the classroom and how you can best support that, as well as what you could do to help them improve.

Maintaining that strong working relationship will be crucial when you’re delivering learning experiences because you’ll be working so closely together. Make sure to keep communication open and clear to ensure that you’re both on the same page.

4. Get your teaching assistant qualifications

If you’re a first time teaching assistant then it’s going to be helpful for you to get a teaching assistant qualification. These qualifications give you the knowledge you need to get started in a classroom environment or go further in your current position if you already have some experience. 

A Level 2 teaching assistant qualification will give you the knowledge you’ll need to get started in the position, whether you’re considering becoming a TA or recently started in the job.

If you already have some experience and want to progress, you should look into taking a Level 3 teaching assistant qualification instead. This can be especially useful when you’re looking to head into a more specialised teaching assistant role.

5. Always come prepared

As a teaching assistant you need to make sure that you’re as prepared as possible. Make sure that you’re clear on what you’ll be doing throughout the day and which children might need special attention.

If you’re new to the job make sure you learn about the children you’ll be working with. Collaborate with the class teacher and find out how you can best help the class and individual students!

Work with your teacher to understand the curriculum, as well as going over individual lesson plans and learning objectives so that you’ll know what you need to be doing on a given day. 

6. Read up on school policy

It’s important that you’re aware of your school’s policies so that you can act appropriately in any situation that might arise in the classroom, and not having the right knowledge is going to put you at a disadvantage.

You should be provided with the right information when you start, but make sure you learn it well and continually put it into practice. If you’re ever unsure about something make sure that you ask! It’s always good to make sure you’re clear on things, and it’s going to reflect well on you if you’re striving to work to the school standard.

7. Be patient and remain calm

Everyone knows that children can be frustrating, especially when misbehaving, but you should do your best as a teaching assistant to be patient with children and keep your cool even when facing bad behaviour. Maintaining your professionalism in the classroom is key.

Ensuring that you have a plan of action when dealing with bad behaviour or frustrating situations is going to help you out in the long run. Try and observe what issues seem to crop up often in your class and think about how you can best deal with them!

If you find yourself overwhelmed make sure to take a breather and find some support if you need it, whether that be from colleagues or elsewhere. Just because you should keep calm in the classroom doesn’t mean that you need to hold in your frustrations outside of it.

8. Get some supporting qualifications

Having some supporting qualifications is important in a school environment because you can learn how to better handle certain situations. 

For example, a qualification in safeguarding and Prevent is going to ensure you know what to do if any safeguarding issues arise, as well as reassuring both employers and parents that you have the right skills to handle your safeguarding responsibilities properly.

You could also look at qualifications in understanding autism or other, more specialised courses, depending on the children you’ll be working with, especially if you have additional responsibilities like being a SEN teaching assistant.

Having supplementary qualifications can help round out your knowledge and will always be seen as added value by employers, as well as improving your confidence in fulfilling all your responsibilities on the job!

9. Be proactive

Don’t just wait for problems to crop up, be proactive in dealing with issues! If you’re noticing an issue developing, whether it’s an issue with a pupil or something else, then it’s good to do what you can to solve them before they cause a larger issue.

Work with your teacher, colleagues, as well as parents to overcome any issues you notice. You’ll find it much easier to deal with things if you’re collaborating with others and coming up with solutions together!  

10. Don’t expect yourself to know it all

As a teaching assistant, especially if you’re new to the position, don’t expect yourself to know everything. If you need to get an answer from elsewhere don’t be afraid to ask!

If one of the children you’re working with asks you a question and you don’t know the answer, then be honest and get back to them the next day when you have the information (or tell them if you can’t get it). This applies to any situation that you’re dealing with on the job. If you don’t have the information, or don’t understand what to do, then step back, find out what you need to know, and return to it later.

You’re not expected to have all of the information, so try not to put pressure on yourself to be perfect. Starting in a new position is a learning experience and you should treat it as such (while striving to do your best).

Becoming a teaching assistant might seem like a huge undertaking if you don’t have any experience, but it can be one of the most rewarding jobs around.

If you’re still looking for that next teaching assistant role, why not take a look at our available teaching assistant courses to boost your employability, or check out our available teaching assistant jobs and find your next dream job! 

If you need any more help on your journey to becoming a teaching assistant, be sure to head over to our teaching assistant career advice.