Friday, 28 September 2018

Professional Development Ideas for TAs

There is so much emphasis put on professional development for teachers, but professional development for TAs is never prioritised as much. As a class teacher, I'm fully aware that TAs play a huge part in the successful running of a school and their professional development is just as important. In my role of TA Co-ordinator, I put a lot of thought into activities and training to support professional development for TAs. It can be difficult to find inspiring training opportunities for TAs, but these training workshops were very successful with our TAs.

Planning Professional Development for TAs
  • School Improvement Plan - When planning TA development  you should consider your school's improvement plan and the TA training that would support whole school aims. 
  • Survey - it's always beneficial to ask TAs what they would like to receive training on, which can be done through a simple survey or conversation.
  • Utilise Teachers - Teachers have a world of knowledge and experience to share and you should capitalise on this when planning TA training.
  • Performance Management - All staff should be performance managed each year. Analyse this to identify the key areas that your TA team should develop further.
  • Outside Trainers - While training can often be delivered in school, it's often nice to get an outside trainer in to offer training. This gives them something different to learn but also supports TA value and well-being.
Professional Development Ideas

2 Minute Forums - TAs have a lot of skills that they can share with their colleagues when given the chance. We ran 2 Minute Forums where the TAs shared an idea with their colleagues, given a maximum of 2 minutes sharing time. It was great to hear about the things they do well and learn new ideas, however, some TAs did feel a little pressured about presenting.
You can get ready to print resources for 2 and 5 Minute Forums on my TPT Store and TES Store.

Speed-Dating - Similar to the 2 Minute Forums, Speed-Dating was one of our most successful professional development sessions. Each TA brings an idea to the session and chairs are set up in 2 rows, facing each other. They are then given a specified amount of time to share their idea before moving seats to share with somebody else. This was particularly successful as TAs didn't feel under pressure in this situation.

Qualifications - It's always great to support your TAs in becoming more qualified in their field. There are many companies offering TA training that is recognised all over the world. We have previously worked with TA College and TAs were very enthusiastic about the opportunities to gain further qualifications.

Browsing Fortnight - Each term our school organises a Browsing Fortnight in which all staff go and observe 3 colleagues. This doesn't need to be pre-arranged, it is simple a drop it. Each staff member has two forms to complete, one with positive feedback to the colleague they observed and the other a reflection of what they have learnt from the observation. The reflection cards are then put into a box and one is drawn out for a prize. This is such a great and fun way to learn from the already good practice that is happening in your school.
You can get ready to print resources for Browsing Fortnight on my TPT Store and TES Store.

Inclusion - Children have many different needs and you can never predict the challenges you may face year on year. Teachers are more prepared for these challenges due to their extensive training, however, our TAs are often the people who spend the most time with students displaying challenging needs. Teaming up with your local school counsellor or behaviour unit would be a great way to offer relevant training and better prepare them for the challenges they may face.

Behaviour Management - No matter how much you demand that your class respect your TA, it's often difficult to enforce that same level of respect. Children know there is a difference there and some TAs don't always have the confidence to demand the respect they deserve, particularly in more challenging situations. Behaviour management training is always a beneficial development idea.

I think the key importance when planning professional development for TAs is to give them a voice in what they find challenging and provide training to meet these needs. A more confident and well-trained TA has an incredible impact in the classroom. Taking the time to train them fully will pay huge dividends to your students and your school so invest in these incredible people!

I hope you find some of these ideas useful.

What training opportunities are offered to teaching assistants at your school?
If you're a TA, what opportunities would you love to have?
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